Caring for your rabbit
Caring for your Easter Bunny all year round
Many rabbits like "Titus", are abandoned as owners think they are an “easy” pet. But rabbits can live for between 7-10 years so are a long-term commitment.
Rabbits are now the third most popular pet in Ireland, particularly popular as a first pet for children.Although many rabbits are bought as a first pet for young children, some rabbits if not socialised at a young age, can often be too shy and delicate for boisterous children.
Your rabbit requires a balanced diet consisting of grass hay, good quality rabbit pellets and fresh fruit and vegetables. Kale, apples and the traditional carrot are popular with our furry friends.
Make sure your rabbit has constant access to fresh, clean water in his feeding bottle.
Accommodation and Exercise
Rabbits are generally kept outdoors in purpose built hutches with runs attached. The bigger the better, so that your pet has plenty of room to move around inside his home. Outdoor hutches should be weather proof and warm. If possible provide a cardboard box for the rabbit to play or hide in.
Faeces should be removed daily from the cage. Cages should be cleaned at least twice a week with soapy water (no strong disinfectants) and bedding(hay, newspaper or shavings) replaced.
Many rabbits can live happily indoors and can be trained to use a large litter tray lined with newspaper.
If your rabbit is going to live indoors you may need a baby gate to section off a large area for him. You will also need to make sure there are no wires, cables or plants within chewing distance!
All rabbits need a few hours exercise a day, preferably outdoors. Make sure their exercise run cannot be accessed by cats or other animals and that the rabbit cannot dig out under it.
Rabbits are very intelligent so need a lot of mental stimulation. There are lots of fun, safe rabbit toys to keep your pet occupied for hours.
Just like cats and dogs, rabbits require vaccination. The 2 diseases we routinely vaccinate rabbits against are Myxomatosis and VHD (Viral Haemorrhagic Disease).In Ireland, rabbits contract Myxomatosis through flea bites. Symptoms include discharging, inflamed eyes, a swollen face, nasal discharge and difficulty breathing.
VHD is very easily spread as it is transported by people, surviving on their clothes. VHD can also be spread between rabbits via contaminated bedding or hutches. Symptoms of VHD are a loss of appetite, nosebleeds and there can be internal bleeding. Death can occur suddenly with this disease.
All rabbits over 6 weeks of age can be vaccinated. They then simply require a booster vaccination each year.
Just like cats and dogs, male and female rabbits should also be neutered/spayed to help prevent unwanted litters and to prevent uterine cancer in the female.
Rabbits teeth and nails will also need to be clipped regularly by your vet.