New Rabbit Owners
Rabbits and Guinea pigs are perfect first pets for your family! They are easy to care for and are cute, friendly pocket pets for the younger members of your family.
However there are some things you need to know before considering a rabbit or guinea pig. From choosing a healthy pocket pet to nutrition and living arrangements, we are here to provide you all the information you need!
Responsible rabbit ownership
Owning a rabbit requires the following:
- A hutch or enclosure to house your rabbit.
- A diet catered to their dietary needs.
- Regular grooming.
- Regular health check-ups at the vet.
- A lot of love and attention from the family
Rabbit’s Dietary Needs
Rabbits require a high fibre diet with a variety of plant based foods, due to them being herbivores. Grass and hay are the main food sources for rabbits, however they can also eat a variety of vegetables. They should not be fed meat or dairy as foods like these are detrimental to their health.
The types of hay rabbits can eat:
- straw for bedding (that they will also nibble on).
- oaten hay.
- pasture (meadow) hay.
- lucerne hay.
- Other types of hay can be used, such as rye grass, but it is important to check for dust and prickles in the hay that may not be suitable for your rabbit.
- All hay must be free of mould and signs of ‘vermin’ (rat or mouse droppings and creepy crawlies). This can be quite challenging until you find a reliable source of hay.
Rabbit Safe Vegetables
Rabbits are able to eat small quantities of vegetables, however it is important to provide only small quantities of these, as rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems. Below is a list of vegetables that are safe for your rabbit to eat. However, hay and grass should remain the staple of your rabbit’s diet.
- Asian greens (buk/bok choy/pak choy/choy sum)
- Chopped celery
- Spinach leaves
Are rabbit pellets healthy?
Most pellets in rabbits are junk food and cause lots of problems. If you would like to feed some pellets, then use only the Oxbow brand of pellets and only 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.
Vaccinating your Rabbit
It is important to get your rabbit vaccinated to protect them against calcivirus. The initial vaccination is given to your rabbit at three months of age. Following on from this, your rabbit will require yearly boosters to ensure they stay healthy and protected.
Desexing your Rabbit
It is important to have your rabbit vaccinated as rabbits are extremely fertile! The gestation period for a rabbit is only one month long and a female rabbit can give birth to up to 12 young each time she births. Preventing unwanted pregnancy is one of the many reasons we recommend you have your rabbit desexed.
In addition to preventing pregnancy, both male and female rabbits that are not desexed have a higher risk of developing cancer: testicular cancer in males and uterine cancer in females. In some rabbit breeds this chance is between 50-80% by age 5.
Both male and female rabbits have a tendency towards aggression and territorial behaviour, including urine spraying as well as inter-rabbit and rabbit-human aggression. Desexing your rabbit reduces these behaviours.