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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Top 10 questions asked about rabbits

A pet bunny is one of the cutest and easiest animals to take care of. Which is why many parents apt to get their kids rabbits as a first pet. If you’re a new rabbit owner, or if you’re planning to get a pet rabbit, below are the 10 most common questions about caring for your furry little friend.

Will I need a pair or can they live happily solo?
Rabbits are social animals, so it’s better to get them in pairs rather than having a single rabbit. However, solo rabbits might do well in homes with other pets. Keep in mind though that rabbits are territorial creatures so they might get into trouble with their housemates if they get too close to their territory. Some animals, such as Guinea pigs, are susceptible to respiratory disease from bacteria which rabbits carry. Rabbits are also known to bully smaller rodents sharing territory.

Can it live outside?
Rabbits are actually pretty active creatures. They need a good amount of space to run and hop around, so placing them outside may be a great idea. You can create a fenced area with a hutch that your rabbit can use for cover in case of rain and really hot days. Place large pipes that the bunnies can use as a makeshift burrow. If you will be placing the rabbit outside, make sure their pen is protected from any predators like foxes or stray cats. The best place to set up a pen for them is in the shady part of the lawn or backyard. Bunnies don’t like high temperatures, so keep them in a shady area.

What about indoors?

Yes, rabbits actually make good indoor pets. Most people don’t know that rabbits, like dogs, can actually be toilet trained. In the wild, rabbits use latrines, so you can use a cat litter tray lined with news papers and some hay on top will suffice. Rabbits actually like to eat where they poop (sound nasty, i know), so the hay will help encourage them to do their business in the tray. The rabbit should also be given a place where they can run and hide in if they ever feel threatened. A cage is a big help, unless you want your rabbit to roam free, but never keep the rabbit in the cage all the time. They as mentioned, they do need to move around. Bunnies are also notorious when it comes to chewing, so make sure they don’t get access to household plants, electrical cables, and other things that could harm them.

What do they eat?

They’re herbivores so they love to eat everything from fruits, vegetables, grass, and hay. Fiber is important in their diet, so give them food that’s rich in this. They should be given grass and meadow hay, but it’s important that there are no chemicals in them. Mixed vegetables should be added to their diets, but these must be introduced to their daily meals slowly to minimize the chance of an upset stomach. There are high fiber rabbit pellets available in most pet stores, which makes a good, day to day meal for them. However, it’s important that they still be given vegetation to help keep their stomach and teeth healthy. Water bottles are a must since bowls can easily be tipped over and the water spilled. Keep their water supply fresh and clean by changing it every day.

When should I clean their enclosure?

Their enclosure and hutch must be cleaned regularly. Faeces and soiled bedding must be removed and replaced with fresh, cleaned bedding. Their litter box should always be cleaned out and the lining replaced with clean lining and new hay. The hutch can be cleaned using a 5% concentration of diluted water and bleach. Nothing stronger than this though since any residue could harm the rabbit. Cleaning the enclosure and replace the bedding once should be good enough.

Do they need treatments for parasites

Yes, they can acquire parasites like mites and fleas. You might need to talk to your vet about this to know what treatment is the best for your pet. If you’re worried about your rabbit getting these parasites from other animals, like pet dogs and cats in your home, it’s important that they be given treatment as well to avoid these pests from spreading.

Will rabbits need vaccinations?

They should be vaccinated for diseases such as viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) and myxomatosis. Schedule a session with your vet so you can get your rabbit these vaccinations at the right time. These shots are done annually, so you’ll need to discuss with the vet a vaccination regime that is best suited for your rabbit. Keep a record of their shots with you to ensure they don’t miss it.

Can I have it neutered?

We all know how fast rabbits can reproduce. Rabbits can become sexually mature from the age of six weeks and can successfully reproduce from this age. Neutering your rabbit is a great idea. It can help in preventing territorial, sexual aggression, and unwanted pregnancies. In female rabbits, neutering helps prevent uterine cancer. Call your vet and ask if you can have your rabbit neutered and what are the possible risk associated with the procedure.

Do they need their teeth clipped?

Rabbits have open rooted teeth, which means that their teeth continuously grow. With the right diet, this shouldn't be a problem since their constant chewing should give plenty of abrasion that naturally wears their teeth down. However, if they don’t get to chew enough, their teeth could grow very large, and they might start chewing on things they shouldn’t be chewing on. If your rabbit starts drooling, eats less, starts losing weight, and doesn’t groom itself as often as it use to, these could be signs that their teeth are overgrowing and you’ll need to visit the vet right away.

How should I hold a rabbit?

Rabbits, contrary to how cute and fuzzy they are, are actually not the sweetest creatures in the planet. Most rabbits don’t like to be handled. Those that do, often don’t like it when you handle them for too long. They have very strong hind leg that let them run, kick, and jump. When you hold a rabbit, it’s important that you support its entire body, particularly the hind limbs, by placing one hand under the tummy and the other under the tail while holding them close to your body. They need to feel secure when you hold them, and holding them close will also stop them from kicking themselves free and end up injuring themselves from the fall. Never hold a rabbit by the ears. That’s the last thing it wants you to do. 

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