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Everything you ever needed to know about rabbits... from A to Z


Everything you ever needed to know about rabbits... from A to Z

Thinking of adding a bunny to your menagerie this Easter? Clare Pemberley offers 26 expert tips to help you keep them happy. From the PetPeople magazine archive

A is for aggression

Your bunny will be much less likely to bite or scratch if neutered or spayed, provided with plenty of space and picked up correctly. Always supervise young pet carers to prevent mishaps.

B is for brushing

All rabbits need grooming weekly, but long-haired breeds need brushing every day - hair balls can block the stomach and prove fatal.

C is for chewing

Bunny-proofing is vital if your rabbit is going to be loose around your house. Move houseplants out of reach, cover phone and computer cables with plastic piping and give him treats he is allowed to gnaw, such as a sea-grass mat or chewable toys.

D is for diet

Your pet is designed to eat a high-fibre, low-protein, low-energy diet. Feed him complete rabbit food, a constant supply of grass and hay, and fresh leafy vegetables in moderation. He must always have access to fresh drinking water, too.

E is for exercise

Rabbits need to be able to run, jump and dig, which they can't do in a hutch. Let them loose in the garden if you can supervise them. When you can't, provide them with an exercise run that's at least 8ft x 4ft x 2ft (2.4m x 1.2m x 0.6m).

F is for flystrike

This potentially fatal condition is caused when flies lay eggs on rabbits and maggots hatch. Check your rabbit at least once a day - twice if he's obese or has open sores or an unclean bottom. If you see maggots, or if he's listless or in discomfort, take him to your vet immediately.

G is for grass

In the wild, rabbits spend many hours each day grazing. Your pet needs a constant supply of grass or hay to snack on. Ideally, give him a portable run that can be moved around an area of medium-length, weedkiller-free grass.

H is for hutches

Rabbits were first housed in hutches by the Victorians, who kept them for meat. Hutches were never intended as long-term accommodation. The minimum recommended size for one rabbit is 6ft x 2ft x 2ft (1.8m x 0.6m x 0.6m), but bigger is always better.

I is for intelligence

Rabbits are intelligent creatures that need the stimulation of suitable toys and human company. A bored rabbit can become depressed or destructive, particularly if it is solitary.

J is for jumping

Your rabbit needs things to hop on, crawl under and climb on to stop him becoming bored or overweight. Try ramps and look-outs, pieces of root vegetable hung from a string, cardboard boxes and paper bags.

K is for keep in pairs

Rabbits are much happier when kept in pairs. Keeping a solitary rabbit deprives it of one of its basic needs: the company of its own kind. The easiest pairing is a neutered male with a spayed female and, contrary to popular opinion, rabbits and guinea pigs don't make good hutch mates.

L is for litter tray

Rabbits are, by nature, clean animals and easy to litter train - usually all you have to do is put a litter tray where he chooses to go. As he may nibble the litter, avoid toxic or clay-based makes, which could swell up in his stomach. You could also use a thick layer of newspaper topped with hay.

M is for MOT

Regularly check your bunny has a clean and dry nose, ears, tail and bottom. Check he doesn't have a runny nose or eyes, or any patches of red, sore skin, and ask your vet how to trim his nails.

N is for neutering

Have your rabbit neutered as soon as your vet recommends and bunny will be happier, healthier, easier to litter-train and able to live with a companion without fighting or causing a population explosion!

O is for other pets

House rabbits often enjoy the company of other animals and will be accepted by many cats and dogs, provided they are carefully trained and introduced. If your cat hunts wild rabbits, choose a large breed for your pet - a confident rabbit that doesn't run away is best. Never leave a rabbit alone with your dog or cat.

P is for poisonous

Anything grown from a bulb is poisonous to a bunny - contact the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) for more details. Rabbits can't vomit, so, if you suspect he's eaten something poisonous, take him straight to your vet.

Q is for quiz

Ask your local vet if he specialises in bunnies. If not, the RWAF has a list of rabbit-friendly vets.

R is for rescue

About 35,000 rabbits end up in UK rescue centres every year. Baby bunnies are adorable, but if you rehomed an older rabbit, he may already be house trained, neutered and vaccinated.

S is for snuffles

This is a common respiratory condition, highly contagious between rabbits, and caused by the bacterium Pasteurella. If you are concerned, contact your vet.

T is for teeth

Rabbit teeth never stop growing, and if the top and bottom teeth don't line up correctly, your pet won't be able to eat properly. Apart from his annual check-up, take him to the vet if he drools, appears to be in pain or has lost weight. His gums should be nice and pink.

U is for uterine cancer

Cancer of the uterus or ovaries occurs in 80 per cent of female rabbits who haven't had babies or been spayed.

V is for vaccinations

All pet rabbits in Britain, including house rabbits, need to be vaccinated against viral haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis.

W is for worming

We are all used to worming our cats and dogs, but some vets recommend worming rabbits against E. cuniculi - a common parasite that can cause paralysis, kidney disease and cataracts.

X is for xtras

For extra healthy munchies, give him pieces of edible wood (such as apple, willow or hazel), leafy greens and root vegetables. Avoid giving him human treats, which are often full of sugar and fat; eating sweets and chocolate can be fatal for bunnies.

Y is for young children

Bunnies don't like sudden movements and many don't like being picked up. After begging for a pet rabbit, many youngsters lose interest in them. A pet rabbit can live up to 10 years - so might another pet be more suitable for your family?

Z is for ZZZ

Make your rabbit a bed from a cardboard box lined with straw or a synthetic fleece and give him a little veg or fruit - the ideal bedtime nibble.

With thanks to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF). For more information on rabbits, download our rabbit guide.


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julie
My 9 month of male house rabbit is fine in terms of not being aggressive towards my husband and myself, however, when my grown up sons visit, he launches and them, bares his teeth and even bites them. Do you think he is being territorial or is it the fact that they both have house rabbits of their own and he is picking up the scent. Any suggestions? Thank you
Francesca - The Petplan Team
Hi Julie, Thanks for posting. We asked our Petplan vet Brian Faulkner for advice and here is his response: "Hi. I suspect this is a territorial learned response behaviour..... Is it just your sons? Vets are not animal behaviourists but I suggest the simplest solution might be to break the stimulus-response sequence. ie keep your rabbit physically away but within earshot when your sons enter the house, then allow him out after 15 minutes but make sure everyone, especially your sons, ignore him. The temptation is for everyone to stand around and wait to see if he attacks and this ‘ritual’ may actually be conditioning him to do it. If he attacks, he goes into onto the ‘naughty step’ ( ie put him away again for 10 minutes) and repeat each time until he eventually learns that attacking your sons isn’t a productive strategy."
John Chanellor
What a great post, I completely agree with point A. When I had a pet rabbit, It was quite agressive towards me at times. I tried a variety of pet products as I thought it was a boredom issue, but didn't seem to help.
julie
Thank you for your reply Francesca, will certainly try this. Don't know if he attacks other people as I would be too embarrassed to let him out when we have visitors in case he attacks! Have to find a volunteer with a pair of protective boots!
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zoie d
I need to know what breed my rabbit is. She's about 1 year old has blue eyes and is all white with normal hair length(1")and it's very soft. But her cheek hair is about 4" and the same thing by the sides of her tail and right above her hind legs. I just can't figure out what breed she is. If you can help please help. Thank You.
Elayna
I believe your rabbit is a Florida White, but I may be mistaken because of the fact that his/her eyes are blue. That is the only breed I can think of.
Leanne Geary
I have a rabbit to just look things for a rabbit
Rachel
My family and I found a baby rabbit in our backyard the other day. The rabbit was calm and let us pick him up and he was too tame to be a wild animal. He looks about a month old and we try to get him to eat and drink but he just won't do it. We tried to give him some milk just in case he is premature and can't drink water yet, but he didn't want that either. Any help as to why he isn't eating or what we can do to help him survive would be greatly appreciated.
Elle
Hi So I've got a 10 month old lop dawft rabbit and all of a sudden he isn't using if litter box and going everywhere! He next did this before How was I sort this?
Kevin
Wow. My family doesn't take care of our rabbit like how you say so in this website, well nuts some things we do do. Our rabbit is actually quite well it eats normally, its gums are nice and pink, its teeth are lined up, it eats normally, wait did I already say that? Yes, I did. Anyway we have had this rabbit since it was really small, about the size of two apples. Now it's like the size of 4 apples we have had it for like...3 years. We used to let it roam around the house but since we live in a trailer we can't really put stuff out of [her] reach just block cables and stuff but it still gets through and so we just keep it in it's house it's daily bib about the size of two kitchen cupboards. Yeah somewhere around there hey I'm not an adult I'm one of the kids my email is even based off of my rabbit, coincidentally, in Spanish. Well yeah um we haven't neutered it yet but I will see if we could get it neutered.
Nikki
I really want a rabbit but I don't think my parents will let me, they say it's too much work.I've heard that they are hard to look after and cost lots of money, I don't know if they are even the right pet for me but I am quite patient so I am willing to take care of one but I just don't know if it's too much work.Thanks for your help ??❤️
Nikki
I really want a rabbit but I don't think my parents will let me, they say it's too much work.I've heard that they are hard to look after and cost lots of money, I don't know if they are even the right pet for me but I am quite patient so I am willing to take care of one but I just don't know if it's too much work.Thanks for your help ??
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