Rabbit

beaumont_petadvise_small animals_rabbitsLooking after your rabbit

Housing

Rabbits need at least .4 square meters each of hutch space and the hutch should be high enough for them to stand up on their hind legs. A rabbit’s hutch is usually made out of wood. Wire mesh floors may be used but the mesh openings should not be greater than 1 x 2.5 cm. The hutch should be positioned in a place where it cannot get too hot or too cold.

Bedding

Bedding is usually hay, straw, wood shavings or shredded paper and their should be a separate nesting area. In winter it is best to cover the hutch or move it into a shed or garage When it is warm rabbits enjoy an outdoor run but this must be cat proof and remember that rabbits burrow so the run must be escape proof. There should also be an area where the rabbit can get out of the sun. Rabbits are best housed in groups but adult rabbits can be very aggressive to new arrivals, and if rabbits are to be housed together it is important that their sexes are known. Cages should be cleaned out at least twice a week. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray as they are naturally clean and toilet in the same place.

Feeding

A commercial food is best, supplemented with small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as grazing grass in the summer. Picked grass is not a good idea as it can produce stomach upsets. Free access to food often leads to a fat rabbit and so a measured amount of food per day is best. Fresh water should always be available, usually from a bottle as rabbits knock all but the sturdiest bowls over.

Handling

Firm gentle, and frequent handling is best. A rabbit may be picked up in the arms or by the scruff. They should be carried close to the body to make them feel secure. With the head and eyes covered they are less likely to struggle. It is important to remember that they can kick out at any time. For this reason it is best to not carry them too high off the ground.

Reproduction

Rabbits can be sexually mature at 12 weeks old. They can breed all through the year and have a gestation period of about 31 days. Normally 6-8 young are born. Once the young are born they should not be disturbed, weaning usually takes place at 6 – 8 weeks.

Lifespan

6-8 years