Learn How to Take Care of a Rabbit
You'll need to learn how to take care of a rabbit if you want to keep one as a pet. Rabbits make fun companions, and they have far more personality than you might expect. They can be playful and even affectionate.
Of course, caring for a rabbit isn't all play. Learn what you'll need to provide your rabbit with in order to keep him healthy, comfortable and content.
The type of housing you choose for your rabbit depends on whether you plan to keep him indoors or outdoors. If you plan to keep him outdoors, you'll need a hutch with a wire floor on one side and a sturdy wooden enclosure on the other to protect him from the elements.
The entire unit should have a hinged roof that doubles as a door, and there should be a locking mechanism to prevent an accidental escape. Keep a good layer of straw in the enclosure for insulation.
If your rabbit will be an indoor pet, you can select a roomy cage with a deep bottom to hold bedding. Add a water bottle on a hanger because rabbits will soil a water bowl very quickly. Likewise, a wall feeder is a better option than a food bowl that can easily be dumped over or soiled. Both of these accessories leave more floor space for your rabbit to move around. You may also want to offer your pet a rabbit house he can take shelter in when he wants to be left alone.
Although premium pellets make up part of most pet rabbit diets, fresh timothy hay and alfalfa are far better alternatives. Rabbit teeth grow perpetually, so chewing this high quality roughage helps wear down the rabbit's teeth and keep them at the proper length.
Along with the hay, rabbits need a good variety of fresh veggies and fruits. Try offering a little spinach, carrots or apple slices. Avoid iceberg lettuce because it has nearly no nutritional value, and its high water content can cause diarrhea if the rabbit eats too much. Whichever fresh foods you feed, make sure to remove any uneaten portions after one hour so your pet won't wind up eating spoiled food later.
Holding Your Pet
Rabbits are actually quite fragile, so always make sure you support your rabbit by his chest or scruff as well as his legs, and hold him close to your body so he feels secure and is less likely to squirm.
Good grooming begins with good husbandry. Keep your rabbit's hutch clean, feed him a h dietealthy, and you're off to a good start.
Brushing your pet once a week or so will help cut down on loose fur that leads to hairball formation. Rabbits with longer coats need to be brushed more often to also avoid mats that can lead to skin sores. There's really no reason to give a rabbit a full bath, but you can rinse his behind if it becomes soiled.
Beyond that, trim your rabbit's nails to keep them from overgrowing, and have your vet check your pet's teeth for a malocclusion. The vet can trim the teeth if needed in order to ensure your pet's ability to eat.
There are few common ailments to watch out for in pets rabbits.
- Obesity - Rabbits that are fed primarily on pellets and receive too many extra treats often become quite fat. This can lead to heart issues and diabetes, among other conditions, that will shorten a pet's life.
- Hairballs - Since rabbits can't throw up, hairballs can cause blockages. Vets usually administer mineral to help them pass through the digestive system, but surgery is sometimes needed to save the rabbit's life. The best way to avoid hairball issues is to give your pet a hairball preventive as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Pasturella infections - This bacterial infection produces motor balance issues as well as abscesses and eye, ear and nasal discharge. Vets usually treat this with long-term antibiotic therapy.
Parasites are another problem to look out for.
- Worms - It's not unusual for a rabbit to pick up an occasional case of worms, and the problem is easily treated with medication.
- Fleas and mites - Fleas can be removed with a flea comb during grooming. Let your vet treat your pet with the proper medication to remove mites and persistent flea infestations.
Care for Your Pet
Pet ownership is both a pleasure and a privilege. Understanding how to take care of a pet rabbit gives you the knowledge you need to help make your companion animal's life a long and happy one. Feed him well, give him a good shelter, and he'll give you years of quiet companionship.