Wrriten by Tana Pressly
Rabbits naturally hide illnesses from predators and so do our domestic rabbits. You need to pay close attention to your rabbit’s behavior and eating habits. If your rabbit is not eating/drinking/pooping/peeing, these are serious symptoms. Take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately. A change in either of these is a a sign to take your rabbit to the vet. Do not wait for the “illness” to pass, many issues are deadly and will cause death within 24 hours of onset.
Rabbits should never be fed muesli mixes as they cannot properly digest corn, peas and seeds. The types of mixes are low in fibre and will lead to dental issues and deadly digestive disorders and a large nutritional deficiency. Feeding these mixes will shorten the life span of your rabbit.
Avoid cheap based pellets as these contain a large amount of alfalfa (Lucerne) which can cause bladder stones and other issues due to the high calcium content.
Feed your rabbit non muesli mixes such as Burgess Excel nuggets, oxbow rabbit food, science select. These can be fed daily and in addition to hay and grass.
25 grams for a 1 kg rabbit, 37.5 grams for a 1.5 kg rabbit, 50 grams for a 2kg rabbit, 70 grams for a 3kg rabbit and so forth.For pregnant, nursing or rabbits younger than 6 months of age, pellets should be available all day due rabbits requiring the extra calcium for development. *Please note that these are guidelines. If you have questions about your pet’s daily feeding regimen, please contact your veterinarian for more specific feeding information.
Rabbits live 10+ years. Adopting a rabbit is a long-term commitment. Rabbits are high maintenance pets with expensive food, vet and housing bills. Feeding cheap food will lead to many health problems and will only increase your vet bills. Make sure you are READY for the long term.
Getting a rabbit
Don’t get a rabbit, get two rabbits. Rabbits will enjoy human company, but it is not the same as having a fellow fluffy friend to cuddle with, groom and clean each other. Your food and vet bills will double, but you rabbit will be happier.
Remember you will need to take them to the vet at 8 weeks old to check gender (never believe a pet store), no later to determine the sex. Rabbits can have babies from as early as 12 weeks old.
Males can be sterilized at 13 weeks old, or when their balls drop and females no earlier than 6 months old.
Unsterilized rabbits will fight.
Rabbits & Children
Rabbits are very fragile and at the best of times don’t like to be picked up but rather prefer to be petted on the ground.
However, young kids love to pick up bunnies and this is very risky due to rabbits backs being very fragile. If a rabbit kicks in the air whilst being picked up there is a chance that it could cause damage to the rabbit’s spine, leaving him/her paralyzed for life, with this, we suggest that rabbits are not given to kids as pets.
Rabbits also don’t always come when they are called and most don’t want to be cuddled. This could provoke the wrong type of behavior such as a child trying to hold a rabbit down, chasing the rabbit or cause a child to lose interest in their pet, leaving it lonely, and stuck in a cage for the rest of its life.
If adult is going to be the primary owner of the bunny, then it is suggested young kids only interact with the bunny under supervision. Make sure any youngsters in your family know how to handle your bunnies properly and are always supervised. Younger children should interact with rabbits while they’re sitting down, which makes it safer for them and for your pet.
Rabbits have amazing personalities, but will only reward you with affection on their terms (much like a cat). This is worth the patience and effort.
Rabbits need space
A hutch with a run extension is not adequate enough, rabbits need a large area to run, jump and binky. Keeping your rabbit in a hutch or a small confined space is detrimental to their health, as they easily become depressed and it will lead to very aggressive behavior. They are crepuscular which means they are active at dawn and dusk and therefor need adequate running space during these times.
It is easy to rabbit proof your home, to allow them to be free roaming rabbits
Cover all wires with protective cables.
Clear sellotape on your furniture corners will deter them from eating furniture.
Lots of chew toys such as willow sticks, hay balls, cardboard boxes to keep your rabbit entertained.
The average cost per bunny per month is R250
Average vet consultation is R400
Sterilization costs R1200 – R1600, so best is to support your local rescue who will have you rabbits sterilized already and a cost of no more than R500
Rabbits tend to hide their pain and illnesses because it is their natural instinct. First sign of illness is your rabbit refusing food, especially treats, hiding away and sitting hunched up. VET care is a must, treatment cannot wait, if a rabbit stops eating it will lead to stasis and sadly death within 24 hours.
Please read more on the “is you rabbit sick” tab.