For a number of years of years the House Rabbit Society has been desinated the fourth Saturday or Sunday of September as Inernational Rabbit Day drawing attention to the increasing popularity of the rabbit and their care. Once kept only as a food source or their fur these soft loving creatures are increasing in numbers as household pets. Estimates are there well over three million of these cuddly
have moved into our households as pets. They are a the third most popular pet in the United States behind the dog and cat.
A Care Guide For New Rabbits
If you’re a new rabbit owner, you’re currently probably a combination of both elated and nervous. Elated, because your new pet is amazing, cute, and everything you’ve ever wanted in a furry friend. Nervous, because owning a rabbit is a big responsibility and you’re not totally sure about how to take care of your new pet yet. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ll go over two of the more important aspects of basic rabbit care in order to help take some of the stress out of your first rabbit-owning experience. We hope you find this information helpful.
It’s important to make sure that your new rabbit has a comfortable home of their own within your household. Whether it’s a rabbit hutch in your backyard or a rabbit condo inside your house, make sure that your rabbit’s cage is large enough for them to hop around inside. Additionally, be aware of whether an indoor or outdoor environment is better for your rabbit. Some breeds do better indoors, and you should also take into consideration the presence of any natural outdoor predators in your area (such as coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions) before placing your rabbit’s home in your backyard.
Another factor is your local weather conditions; your rabbit may have a fur coat, but if temperatures get too cold outside at night, your rabbit will likely become sick. The same goes for hot regions, like desert or chaparral areas; your rabbit can get overheated and become ill if they stay in an outdoor hutch on a hot day. In general, rabbits don’t react well to extreme temperatures of any kind, so make sure to always keep that in mind when deciding where and how to house your new rabbit.
It’s important for your rabbit to get enough exercise, so make sure to let them out of their hutch or rabbit condo for at least a few hours every day. Make sure to bunny-proof whatever area you let them play in, though. If you’re letting your rabbit roam around inside your house, take the time to cover or wrap any electrical wires that they could chew on, and also make sure to safeguard any furniture or baseboards if you don’t want your rabbit to gnaw on them. Alternatively, if you’re letting your rabbit outdoors it’s important to make sure there’s nothing they could chew on or ingest that could cause them harm, such as poisonous mushrooms or any other type of plant that is toxic to rabbits.
Regardless of if your rabbit exercises indoors or outdoors it’s important to never leave them unsupervised for long periods of time; pets have a way of finding trouble without us looking out for them, and rabbits in particular are quite fast and therefore can find ways to get into mischief even quicker than normal.
Rabbits are designed to eat primarily grass. The main source of food should be hay- the most commonly available hay is timothy grass. Other hays may be fed with the exception of alfalfa hay. Only young rabbits generally less than 4 months should be fed alfalfa hay. Pellets should be fed in limited quantities or not at all. As a general rule of thumb fed 1/4 cup of pellets for every five pounds of body weight.
Leafy green vegetables should be added to your rabbit’s diet. When first introducing greens, introduce one type of green at a time every three days to make sure your rabbit is handling things well. Keep track of the foods you have fed. Once they have been successfully introduced you can feed any selection you like each day. Feed at least three different types of greens daily so that you provide a variety of nutrients. Greens should be washed thoroughly to remove dangerous pesticides. Uneaten fresh foods should be removed from the cage after 3 to 4 hours to prevent spoilage. Feed up to a maximum of 1 packed cup of greens for every 2 lbs of body weight daily. You can feed this all at once or divide it between two or more feedings a day.
Some examples of nutritious greens are: dandelion greens (and flowers), raspberry leaves, kale, mustard greens, escarole, endive, collard greens, beet greens, carrot tops, parsley, turnip tops, romaine, Swiss chard, bok choy, mint leaves, cabbage (red and green), etc. Do no feed light-colored thin-leafed greens such as bibb lettuce and iceberg lettuce.
While rabbits do not require vaccines as a routine they are prone to develop a number of a serious number of problems. A sick rabbit should be seen as soon as possible. A sick rabbit will often die within 24 hours of showing symptoms. Fifteen percent of pet rabbits die before 1 year of age. Healthy appearing rabbits should be examined every 6 months which includes an accurate weight check and a dental examination with an oral scope to evaluate the molar teeth.