Adelaide Vets Logo
Adelaide Vets
Facebook Google Plus

023 8040 6215

PROFESSIONAL CARE FOR PRECIOUS PAWS

TOP

Rabbits

Rabbits can make very good pets, as they are both friendly and intelligent. However they do have some important husbandry needs to keep them happy and healthy. Their average life span is 6-10 years, with a record age of 15 being reported.

  • Vaccinating pet rabbits

    Your rabbit should be vaccinated routinely against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) and Myxomatosis. Both these viral diseases can be rapidly fatal in an unvaccinated rabbit and there are no cures once infected. The only protection you can give your rabbit is by vaccination.

    VACCINATIONS

  • Viral Haemorrhagic Disease

    VHD is spread by direct contact between rabbits (both wild and domesticated) but also via indirect contact such as from people, clothing, on shoes, other objects, fleas and other parasites.
  • Myxomatosis

    Myxomatosis is spread mainly by fleas or other biting insects and is transmitted in this way from wild to pet rabbits but can sometimes also spread via direct contact with other infected individuals.
    A combined Myxomatosis and VHD vaccination can be given from as early as 6 weeks of age. Boosters are given every 12 months and cover both diseases. At the time of vaccination the vet will give your rabbit a thorough health check as well.

Preventative Health

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits need preventative healthcare to keep them fit and well.

Rabbit Teeth

Each tooth in a rabbit is constantly growing. The usual rate is about 2mm per week but this can be increased when there is dental disease present. To prevent overgrowth there must be a constant wearing down of the teeth by chewing. For the wear to be even, and prevent sharp spikes and spurs developing on the teeth, it is important that the teeth are perfectly aligned.
Even if your rabbit’s teeth start off perfectly aligned problems can occur later in life. It is common for a pet rabbit’s diet to be deficient in which case the jaw bones become soft and the teeth can move slightly out of position. This means that the wear becomes uneven and spurs appear.

Diarrhoea in Rabbits

Diarrhoea is a common problem in pet rabbits. It can be a very serious condition as dehydration can develop rapidly so veterinary advice should be sought immediately. Some gastrointestinal infections that result in diarrhoea can be fatal in less than 24 hours. It is normal for rabbits to produce softer droppings at night, which they then eat. This is an important part of the rabbit’s diet.

E.Cuniculi in Rabbits

E.cuniculi is a tiny parasite, which has to live inside a host cell in order to survive. E.cuniculi primarily infects rabbits and is a significant cause of disease. It is also important to rabbit owners as just occasionally it can infect humans, especially if they are immuno-compromised.

Insuring Your Pet Rabbit

If your rabbit is unwell the last thing you want to worry about is how to pay for treatment. We recommend that you consider pet insurance for all of your pets.

Neutering

Neutering of both male and female rabbits is recommended unless you wish to breed from them.. Rabbits become sexually mature between 4 months (in smaller breeds) and 6 to 9 months (in larger breeds). It is recommended that young rabbits are separated into single sex groups at 4months of age.

Feeding Your Rabbit

The most important part of a rabbit's diet is good quality hay together with fresh grass. This is what they eat naturally, so it should make up the bulk of the diet and be offered all the time. A small quantity of pellets (nuggets, rather than muesli type mix), and fresh greens   can also be added to their diet.
A guide to feeding your rabbit is:
Good quality hay. Your rabbits should get at least their own body size amount of good quality hay each day. As a rule, either fresh hay or growing grass (not grass clippings) should always be available.
Fresh greens. An adult-sized handful of suitable fresh greens should be fed morning and evening.
Pellets or nuggets.  A good general rule is to feed a maximum of 25 grams of pellets each day for each kilogram that your rabbit weighs.
 
 
  • Feeding your rabbit hay and grass

    Hay and grass provide essential fibre that keeps the teeth and digestive system in good health and nibbling throughout the day will keep your rabbit occupied and prevent boredom. Good quality meadow hay should be sweet smelling and not dusty. Dried grass products that retain the green colour and are highly palatable are also now available.
  • Dry food problems in rabbits

    Overfeeding dry foods to adult rabbits is a common cause of diseases such as obesity, heart and liver problems, chronic diarrhoea, dental and kidney disease. A large number of rabbits will only eat certain components of mixed muesli type feeds, risking an insufficient uptake of protein, calcium and phosphorous. This is why high quality dry pellets, where all nutrients are present in each individual pellet is the preferred option. Water should be available 24hrs a day and water bottles or bowls should be cleaned daily to prevent the build-up of bacteria and contamination.
  • Feeding rabbits fresh food

    You can feed your rabbit limited amounts of fresh vegetables, fruit and greens daily. Wild plants are also greatly enjoyed. If your rabbit is not used to getting fresh food though, it's best to begin by feeding green leafy vegetables, adding a new type of vegetable every two-three days. If the addition of any item leads to diarrhoea within 24-48hrs it should be withdrawn. Fresh foods should not make up more than 15% of the rabbit's diet. Items to try are Chinese cabbage, watercress, kale, parsley, spinach, radishes, celery, bramble, raspberry leaves, dandelions, chickweed, plantain, groundsel and clover.
  • Feeding treats to rabbits

    Do not feed your rabbit chocolate, biscuits or other sugary treats like honey sticks, bread, or fatty, salty foods like potato crisps. Be careful with feeding treats generally as they can lead to obesity and digestive upsets. Treats your rabbit may like include strawberries, pineapple chunks, apples, pears, melon slices, banana slices, raspberries, peaches and dried fruits.
    However, fruits are high in sugar and should only be fed very occasionally as they can lead to dental problems. For good tooth wear you may provide your rabbit with twigs or tree branches and he or she will enjoy gnawing and stripping the bark.
    A general rule is that you can offer branches from any tree that we eat the fruit from such as apple, pear or plum but do make sure that the tree has not been sprayed with chemicals.

Housing

Choose the biggest hutch that you can.
Place it in a shady area of the garden away from draughts, wind and driving rain.
Cover the front of the hutch with a blanket/piece of carpet overnight in cold weather.
The hutch should allow your rabbit to stand up fully on their back legs and perform at least three consecutive hops.
The hutch should be divided into an enclosed sleeping area and a larger area for daytime use.
Provide a thick layer of straw for bedding in the sleeping area.
Provide access to a large grassed run.
Remove wet and soiled bedding daily.
Rabbits are social animals and are best kept in pairs or small groups. To avoid them breeding or fighting both sexes should be neutered.
 

Indoor Rabbits

Rabbits can be kept indoors and make good house pets
They love to chew and can cause considerable damage so all electrical wires should be kept out of reach.
House rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray – paper based cat litter is best.
 

When to contact us

Please phone us if you are at all worried about your rabbit, as rabbit’s can go downhill very quickly once they start to show health problems. Signs to look out for are:
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Looking depressed
Skin trouble
Runny faeces and/or urine soaking into the back legs
Discharges from the nose
Quick Links:
Information:
Contact Details:
Long Lane
Bursledon
Southampton
Hampshire
SO31 8DA
Tel 023 8040 6215
Julie Ann Moore, Web, Social, Photography