What to consider before buying your first rabbit

 

ram-rabbit-2744826_1920

Rabbits can make great additions to your household but as with any pet, they are a big commitment. If you are thinking of getting one, here’s some of the things you need to consider before buying your first rabbit.

Where is your rabbit going to live?

Before buying your first rabbit you need to think about where your rabbit will live.  Whether indoors or outdoors, they need to have plenty of space to stretch out and move around inside their ‘house’. It’s a good idea to establish how large your particular breed of rabbit will grow.

The recommended minimum living area is  10ft x 6ft x 3ft high (3m x 2m x 1m) for a pair of average sized rabbits. This will offer ample room to move around and should be tall enough to prevent your rabbit from being able to touch the roof if they stand on their hind legs.

Their home should be ‘carpeted’ with comfortable bedding such as dust-free shredded paper or hay. This is likely to be eaten, so it needs to be safe.

The toilet area should be separate to the main sleeping area. If you will be having more than one rabbit, they should each have their own litter tray.

How long will your rabbit live?

Looking after a rabbit is a long term commitment, they live on average for somewhere between 8 and 12 years but some rabbits can live even longer than this.

Grooming and general care

Rabbits will generally keep themselves clean but you’ll still need to groom them to keep their fur in check.

Long-haired bunnies can get matted fur if they are not groomed regularly.

You should also check their back end to make sure it’s clean and dry, especially in summer months.

Most bunnies will also benefit from having their claws trimmed roughly every six weeks and they will need regular worming and flea treatments.

Important healthcare

  1. Vaccinations: Your rabbit will need vaccinations against the two strains of Rabbit Viral Heamorrhagic Disease (RVHD). Rabbits can be protected by injection anytime from 5 weeks of age, then a booster every 12 months, this is when it’s part of the combined Myxo-RHD vaccine.   Your rabbit will also need a separate RVHD2 vaccination every 6 – 12 months.
  2. Neutering: This is VERY important – particularly for female rabbits (not just to prevent the huge number of unwanted baby kits) but because a very high number of females get uterine cancer. Ensure you plan for the associated veterinary costs.
  3. Dental care: Rabbit’s teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. In the wild, tooth length can be kept in check and at a safe length by the regular chewing of hay. Pet rabbits may not get the same amount of hay in their diet, and some of the smaller or round-faced breeds may not have enough room for their teeth. If you have a rabbit, then you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the care of their teeth. Discuss things to look out for and best rabbit tooth care with your vet.

If at any time you spot worrying symptoms such as a runny nose, fur loss, appetite loss, lumps/bumps and breathing difficulties, you should take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible.

Food and drink

A common misconception is that rabbits eat root vegetables (carrots) or fruit as part of their main diet. The truth is, rabbits don’t naturally eat vegetables. Carrots and fruit are high in sugar and should only be fed in small amounts as occasional treats.

Your bunny’s daily diet should be largely made up of leafy greens, grass and hay. Eating lots of hay or grass helps wear down rabbits’ constantly growing teeth and keeps their tummies healthy. It also allows foraging and grazing, which are important natural behaviours.

Be aware that some foods are unsuitable for rabbits and should be avoided. These include;

  • avocado
  • grapes
  • raisins
  • parsnips
  • fruit pips
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Walnuts
  • Rhubarb
  • Cauliflower

The ‘wrong’ type of diet can lead to digestive and dental problems as your rabbit’s teeth will not be worn down properly. If you’re not sure what to feed your bunny, ask your vet for advice.

Clean water should be provided and this should be changed on a daily basis.

Temperament and care

Rabbits are generally affectionate and social creatures. Many rabbits are happy to be handled and will enjoy this connection, but they are fragile and can be easily hurt so it is important you know how to handle them properly.

If you’re buying a rabbit for a child, make sure you supervise and teach them how to handle the rabbit first.

Rabbits are happy to have some time to themselves, but do not feel comfortable being left alone for long periods of time.  If they are left alone for too long, this can cause stress and anxiety.

Playtime and exercise is essential for keeping your rabbit healthy. Spend some time with your rabbit away from their hutch, if you bring them indoors, remember to watch them carefully most rabbits will happily chew electrical cords!

You could of course decide to buy more than one rabbit – it’s always nice for pets to have another to interact with but careful – two bunnies can quickly become too many bunnies! So ensure you get them neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

If you do decide that you are prepared to invest in the long-term care of a rabbit, don’t forget Animed Direct can supply lower cost rabbit prescription medication as well as a range of foods, bedding and accessories.