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15 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5PA 0207 017 8950

Rabbit Care

Rabbits are becoming increasingly popular pets in the UK and are easy to look after. There are many different breeds and they range in size from the tiny Dwarf to the larger New Zealand White. Having a pet rabbit can be fun and rewarding but there are several important guidelines to follow to make sure your rabbit stays happy and healthy!

Housing

  • Rabbit hutches should be at least 1.5-2m in length and high enough to allow the rabbit to jump freely. If the hutch is outside. If the hutch is outside, make sure part of it is in the shade.
  • Avoid wire floors as these can cause injury. Floors should either be slatted wood or solid. Use straw as bedding and change it every 1-3 days. Old bedding can cause painful skin infections on rabbits.
  • Rabbits do well indoors too and can be easily litter trained. Make sure the room is rabbit-proof as they will try chew through anything, including wires! Keep them pre-occupied with lots of toys and boxes.

Insurance

  • Insurance for your rabbit is highly recommended. Most companies that supply insurance for cats and dogs will also cover rabbits.
  • For a small monthly fee, you can then ensure the best medical care for your rabbit should something go wrong.
  • Call us for more advice about insurance and the different policies that companies are providing.

Feeding

  • A rabbit’s diet should mostly consist of grass (75-80%). This can either be fresh grass or dried hay. Their teeth grown continuously throughout their life, so a high-fibre diet helps grind down the teeth to a normal level. It will also help prevent diarrhoea and obesity.
  • You can feed 1-2 tablespoons of commercial feed per day (depending on the size of your rabbit). Avoid muesli mixes as rabbits will pick out their favourite sweet bits and leave the healthy stuff behind! Complete pellet diets are a much healthier option.
  • Greens, weeds and herbs can be given as a handful twice a day. Fruit should only be given as the occasional treat as they are very high in sugar.
  • If you are going to change your rabbit’s diet, do so gradually as sudden changes can upset the important bacteria in their gut, leading to diarrhoea, gut stasis or weight loss.

Foods

The following are a list of plants safe for your rabbit to eat:

  • Artichoke leaves
  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot (care with leafy tops as high levels of oxalic acid)
  • Broccoli (and its leaves, including purple sprouting varieties)
  • Cabbage (can sometimes cause digestive upsets)
  • Carrots (and carrot tops) – should be limited as they are high in sugars
  • Cauliflower (and the leaves)
  • Celeriac
  • Celery (and its leaves)
  • Chicory
  • Courgette (and flowers)
  • Cucumber
  • Curly Kale
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Kohl rabi
  • Parsnip
  • Peas (including the leaves and pods)
  • Radish Tops
  • Rocket
  • Romaine lettuce (not Iceberg or light coloured leaf)
  • Spinach (only occasional)
  • Spring Greens
  • Turnip (only occasional)
  • Watercress

Herbs (often powerful tastes so may take some getting used to):

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Mint (peppermint)
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Wild Garden Herbs/Weeds/Flowers

  • Calendula
  • Camomile
  • Chickweed
  • Clover (leaves and flowers)
  • Comfrey
  • Dandelion
  • Goosegrass (cleavers) but may stick to coat!
  • Lavender
  • Mallow
  • Nettle
  • Nasturtium (leaves and flowers)
  • Shepherd’s purse
  • Sow Thistle
  • Plantain
  • Yarrow

Rabbit Neutering

  • The onset of puberty is 4-5 months in females and 5-8 months in males
  • Females are generally spayed at 5-6 months. This is strongly advised as a preventative measure against cancer of the uterus (uterine adenocarcinoma) which affects 50-80% of entire females over 3 years of age. It can also help reduce aggression and nesting behaviour.
  • Males are generally castrated at 4-5 months of age. This helps prevent aggression, hypersexual behaviour, unwanted breeding and urine spraying.
  • After being castrated, male rabbits are still able to breed for up to 6 weeks after the procedure so keep them separate from entire females.
  • If you want to have you rabbit neutered, speak to one of our vets or nurses for more information.

Some Rabbit Facts

  • Rabbit teeth are always growing! The high fibre in their natural diet helps grind down the teeth to normal levels.
  • The life expectancy of rabbits ranges from 8-15 years.
  • Rabbits cannot vomit.
  • Rabbits can only breathe through their nose. This means that any obstruction, like a runny nose, can be a serious health issue.
  • Rabbits produce two types of faeces-dry pellets and wet pellets called caecotrophs. Caecotrophs are usually produced in the morning and are covered in mucous. They contain lots of important vitamins and minerals, so rabbits eat them!
  • Rabbits excrete large amounts of calcium in their urine, giving it a white, cloudy appearance.