Following a few simple guidelines from the Rabbit Welfare Association will mean your bunny can live in comfort and stay in excellent health.
Quite simply, cleanliness is essential. The build-up of urine and droppings over time (which can be a lot when rabbits are living in bonded pairs or groups, as recommended) will result in breeding bacteria that could cause illnesses in your bunny, or even lead to flystrike (myiasis), which is when flies lay eggs on the rabbit and the eggs then hatch into maggots. Looking after your rabbit’s home should be top of your priority list.
Your rabbit’s sheltered area should be dry and well ventilated, and kept at a cool temperature. If the shelter has a wooden floor, line it with a thick layer of newspaper topped with a layer of absorbent bedding throughout, plus hay in the bedroom area.
Wherever your bunny lives, indoors or out, it’s best to use a litter tray, which they should have access to at all times. Training your rabbit to use the tray shouldn´t be difficult because rabbits naturally go to the toilet in one area. When you first place the tray into the cage, move littered bedding and droppings into it and your bunny will start to use it.
Don’t over-clean the litter tray – your bunny scent-marks it to claim it as his own, and if you wash this scent away the tray won’t smell ‘right’ to him – but his hutch, shed or indoor cage should be kept clean. Take out soiled litter daily during the week then clean fully and disinfect with a pet-safe cleaner (or steam) once a week. Cleanliness is even more important when treating ill rabbits. For example, if you are treating your rabbit for E.cuniculi (a parasite that attacks the central nervous system), his home needs to be thoroughly cleaned daily or he could become reinfected.
Your bunny should be fed mostly on hay, with just 15 per cent greens and 5 per cent pellets in their total diet. But keep an eye on fresh food, which can go off. Remove leftover veg every day, and try to feed only a small amount at a time so it all gets eaten. If your rabbit´s water bottle is turning green with algae, thoroughly scrub it or replace the bottle. Change your rabbit´s water every day to prevent this problem, and provide a water dish as well, which is easier to keep clean.
A good way to ensure you clean out your rabbit on a regular basis is to establish a routine. Find a time of day that suits you and change the water and the litter at the same time every day. Likewise, decide on the day of the week that you will do a thorough clean-out and make sure you stick to it. Your happy bunny will thank you for it.