The Secret Life of Pets: It’s a secret Snowball doesn’t want you to know - how to keep your rabbit happy and domesticated…
If you think you know what your pet gets up to when you’re not around, the new comedy The Secret Life of Pets, which is in cinemas now, may make you think differently.
Petplan is delighted to be a brand partner for the film and explores the best ways to enrich your rabbit’s environment and keep them in the best of spirits!!
It’s vital rabbits have company!
In the wild, rabbits live in groups - so keeping your bunny on their own is depriving them of a fundamental need to be in the company of their own kind. Therefore, it’s vital you keep rabbits in pairs. They should be neutered and a male and female combination, make the ideal pairing.
The easiest way to bond rabbits, is by either choosing a male or female from the same litter, ensuring you have them neutered before any fighting occurs or by choosing two rabbits from different litters but who are around the same age – between 8-10 weeks.
Once rabbits bond, they rarely venture away from each other. They groom each other and eat and sleep together. If you need to take one of the rabbits to the vets, always take them together as they seek comfort in each other when stressed.
Keep your rabbit on the hop!
Rabbits need to be able to display all of their natural behaviours all of the time. They are simply not designed to live in a confined space and outdoor rabbits should ideally have as much supervised free access to a secure garden as possible.
Of course supervision isn’t always possible, so it’s vital that they have permanent access to a run attached to their hutch. The hutch is only for shelter and isn’t suitable for the main or sole accommodation for your rabbits. The hutch should be at least 6x2x2 and the run should be at least 8’ x 6’ – but bigger is better!
‘Link kits’ are tunnels that connect a hutch to a run and fit any hutch. These can also be used to increase the run area as you can fit the link kits from one run to another.
Rabbits are tunnelling animals and enjoy digging. Fill a cardboard box, a clean waste paper bin or something similar, with shredded paper or hay and watch your rabbit dig in!
Rabbits often like to climb – provide logs and hanging hay racks which helps to keep hay fresh and clean. Perhaps invest in a cat tree with platforms at different levels for your rabbit to jump between, or you can construct your own out of cardboard or wood.
Avoid dental problems by feeding your bunny right!
Many owners don’t realise how crucial it is to look after their bunny’s teeth, or the wide range of painful conditions that tooth problems can cause. Dental disease in rabbits is pre-dominantly due to their naturally fast-growing teeth combined with the wrong diet.
Therefore it’s important your bunny’s teeth are continually being worn down by munching on a fibrous diet. Rabbits should be allowed to free-graze grass and hay as well as being offered dark green leafy vegetables once or twice a day. Your bunny’s diet should be 85% hay & grass, 10% dark greens and only 5% of dried pellet food.
Rabbits also enjoy gnawing on cardboard boxes, toilet roll tubes, and willow tree bridges or balls – these also provide extra stimulation and you should rotate different items to keep your bunny’s environment interesting and fun!
Make feeding time fun for your rabbit!
Searching for food encourages foraging behaviour and keeps bunny busy!
Try ‘scatter feeding’ – scatter greens or pellets around their home, whilst hiding food under boxes and flower pots stuffed with hay or shredded newspaper encourages digging.
Food balls and puzzle feeders are also a great way to provide mental stimulation, whereby the rabbit needs to work to unlock the pellets – provide one feeder per rabbit.
Try feeding when rabbits are at their most active, which is early morning, late afternoon and overnight.
How do you make sure that your rabbit is kept stimulated? Let us know in the comments below….