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updated 20150903

CARING FOR YOUR RABBIT

 

Feeding

  • Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters) so a diet high in fibre is required. Provide a diet of 80% fresh grass, good quality meadow or oat hay (not lucerne), and 20% vegetables and herbs (eg broccoli, endive, beet and carrot leaves, brussel sprouts, Asian greens, chickory, kale, parsley, dandelion, coriander, basil, dill and mint). Only feed celery and lettuce in limited amounts as they are of little nutritional value.
  • Commercially available pellets can make up a maximum 10% of the diet
  • Seed, nut, and chaff mixtures are not ideal and should not be offered
  • Water is best offered in a bottle and all food and water should be fresh and changed daily.

 

Health Care

  • A vaccination against calicivirus (a disease spread by mosquitoes that can cause sudden death) is required at 8-10 weeks of age, a booster at 12-14 weeks and again with a regular health check every 6-12 months for life.
  • Desexing is recommended for female rabbits at 5-6 months of age to help prevent unwanted litters and the development of uterine cancer which occurs in 50-80% of rabbits over 4 years old.
  • Desexing is recommended at 4-6 months for male rabbits to reduce aggression, territorial behaviour (including inappropriate soiling) and bullying.
  • Overgrown back teeth leading to the inability to eat is a common, life-threatening problem and so teeth need to be examined at regular health checks.
  • Rabbit-safe flea and mite prevention should be used monthly. This includes Revolution™ and Advantage™ (for cats). There are no rabbit specific products. Discuss their appropriate use and dose with your veterinarian
  • Rabbits in Australia can not be vaccinated against myxomatosis. To protect your rabbit from this insect-spread diseas keep them inside at dawn and dusk, cover outdoor enclosures and make sure your rabbit is up-to-date with flea and mite prevention

 

Housing

  • Rabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors provided they are protected from the extremes of heat and cold. They are extremely sensitive to heatstroke as they can neither pant nor sweat and temperatures above 26ºC should be avoided.
  • If living in a hutch, ensure that the floor is made of solid material such as plexiglass or wood with a thick layer of regularly changed straw or hay to prevent foot trauma. A concealed area is also important to allow the rabbit to feel secure.
  • Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box and this should be changed daily to prevent urine scalding.
  • Rabbits should have access to unfiltered sunlight on a regular basis and given the opportunity to exercise – daily supervised periods in the garden are ideal.

 

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