Caring for your Rabbit

Buying a Rabbit

Owning and caring for a family pet is a very rewarding experience. Your pet will offer you interest and enjoyment but keeping a pet brings with it responsibillities which may become a time consuming chore once the novelty has worn off. If you are not 100% sure that you and your family will be able to ffer a pet the attention it requires, then please think twice. 

Housing for your Rabbit

Hutches no smaller than 153 x 60 x 60cm, double tier, make suitable homes for medium sized rabbits. In additon to a hutch, a run no smaller than 153 x 153 x 90cm should be attached. Outdoor hutches shold be placed 25cm off the floor in a sheltered area protected from both hot and cold weather.

Indoor cages shold be no smaller than 140 x 70 x 55cm and shold be placed away from direct sunlight, draughts, TV's, radios, air fresheners and aerosols.

A hutch or cage should have a layer of shavings on the floor with plenty of straw and hay for nesting material. In winter months your rabbit will benefit from extra bedding and hutch covers. A rabbit bought during the winter should be kept indoors until springtime.

Individual runs are also available made from galvanised metal and can be used both in and outdoor. These also contain covers for protection from predators, rain and the sun. If you choose this kind of run, it should contain boxes, plant pots, tubes and lots to keep your rabbit entertained and give a sense of security. Toys are vital to keep your pet active and stimulated.

General Care

Allow your rabbit a 24 hour settling in period before handling them for the first time. It is possible to allow rabbits and guinea pigs supervised playtime together in a large communal run, but due to differences in diet, size and temperatment they should be housed separately. Check their health weekly - back end, claws, teeth, eyes, ears, fur, and skin. If you have any concerns, call Avon Lodge for advice. 0117 977 3230.

Handling

Talk to your pet as you approach them, presenting the back of your hand for them to sniff. Gently take hold of them under their chest with the palm of one hand and support the weight of them with the other hand under their rump. Place them on your lap, or hold to your chest whilst providing continuous support across their back. Keep low to the ground to avoid fatal falls. 

Feeding

Fresh water should be available at all times using a gravity fed bottle. Do not place bottles directly above food bowls. Hay is an essential part of a rabbit's diet, and unlimited amounts should be placed in a hayrack to keep it clean.

Young rabbits should be fed on a complete junior rabbit mix, and should remain on this until six months of age. Avon Lodge recommends Burgess foods for rabbits which can be ordered for next day delivery. The type of food should be changed to an adult rabbit food at six months of age, and fed in the mornings in a heavy ceramic dish that is easily cleaned and gnaw proof. Any further changes of diet should be introduced gradually over a period of three weeks. At approximately 5 months old small amounts of fruit and vegetables can be introduced gradually. Please ask any of the staff at Avon Lodge for further advice if you are considering changing your rabbit's diet.

Good fruit and vegetables - carrot, apple, broccoli, green cabbage, seedless grapes, kale and spinach. Also dandelion (only if you are certain this has not been contaminated with weedkiller) clover, coltsfood and grass. 

BAD FOODS - lettuce, avocado, privet, yew, foxglove, all bulbs, ragworth, lupin, bracken, laburnum and lilac. Please contact Avon Lodge as a matter of urgency if your rabbit has eaten, or may have eaten any of these. 

Wood gnaws such as willow, apple and pear branches, and mineral licks are essential as they help keep teeth trim and replace lost minerals. 

Grooming

Lion head rabbits and other long coat varieties must be groomed daily with awide toothcomb. Short coated rabbits should be groomed once a week to remove moulting hairs and help keep coat in good condition. It's also a good bonding expereince and should be started when the rabbit is young. Nails may also need clipping every three months to prevent them becoming overgrown. A veterinary nurse can do this for you for a modest cost. Please call to book an appointment.

Cleaning of Hutch

This should be done at least once week thoroughly, but heavy sites of excrement and urine should be cleared daily. A pet safe disinfectant should be used. Scrub areas, but leave to dry with the rabbit safely elsewhere, and remove bedding and  uneaten fresh food. If the hutch is dirty, leading to the rabbit getting dirty at it's back end (also caused by diarrhoea) a distressing condition known as fly strike can occur. This can be fatal and your rabbit should be seen urgently if there is any sign of maggot infestation, multiple flies in or around the hutch, or if your rabbit has a dirty back end particularly if this is matted. 

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