Getting a New Rabbit(*S)?
So you would like to get a rabbit for yourself or your family.
*That “s” is important! Rabbits should never be housed alone, they are much happier in pairs with a male female neutered pair working best. Rabbits are not highly evolved like dogs are to live alongside humans. Dogs can make a human family their own, easily substituting humans in place of a canine family. Nor are rabbits solitary by nature as cats are.
Rabbits are very sociable, in fact they have more in common with a horse biologically and psychologically speaking and live in a herd in the wild, yet we often lump them in with these two pets as they are the third most popular house pet.
When you get your new rabbits have them checked and sexed, this is a service that is usually free of charge at your local vets. You will need to invest in suitable housing facilities that will keep your male female pair safely separated until such time as one or both can be sterilised (neutered). Rabbits can breed successfully as young as 12 weeks of age!
A hutch and run separated by a rabbit proof wire mesh allows the rabbits to cohabit(see and smell each other) without having the opportunity to breed. This is a good way to introduce new rabbits to each other as well as separating a potential breeding pair.
Never keep a single rabbit locked up alone in a hutch all the time. Before getting your rabbits and setting up home for them think about who will clean up after the rabbits; droppings and new bedding etc.
Rabbit water bottles will need new water daily and any remaining water throwing away. The bottles will need to be washed periodically.
Frequently Asked Rabbit Questions
How much time should I allow for pet rabbits?
Time is required for maintenance of enclosures, feeding and cleaning rather than direct interaction, although some rabbits may enjoy interaction with people, it is not necessary to have a minimum amount for a happy life . Cleaning and maintenance should take around 30 minutes daily.
How much does it cost to keep a pair of rabbits?
As with any pet the purchase price is the cheapest part of ownership, with feed, bedding, toys and enclosure and maintenance being required initially and on an ongoing basis. Vaccinations and emergency veterinary care should be accounted for also.
It can cost €50 per month to house and feed two rabbits, €20 per month per rabbit for veterinary care, vaccinations and parasite treatments, not including nail clips, teeth filing and any other illnesses which may occur.
Initially there will be a neutering fee this can be around €250 per rabbit. This is an operation which removes the ovaries and uterus in the female and testicles in the male. It only needs doing once in the rabbits lifetime and prevents unwanted breeding.
What do rabbits need to eat?
Rabbits need to have good quality hay as a main part of the diet. This can be supplemented with fresh greens and some complete rolled pelleted food. Avoid mixed cereal foods as rabbits tend to get fat on those, picking out the tasty oily seeds and leaving behind the fibre.
What do I need to vaccinate my rabbits against?
Rabbits need vaccination against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic diarrhoea (known as RHD or VHD). These are two viruses that are common among the wild rabbit population and can spread via flies, midges and on moist air droplets to pet rabbits. VHD-2 is a new strain which causes sudden death and there is now a vaccination available to protect pet rabbits against it.
Do I need to flea and worm my pet rabbit?
This will depend on your rabbits lifestyle. If you have a house rabbit or a rabbit that spends time outside or lives outdoors. We would recommend deworming every six months for mostly indoor rabbits and every two months for rabbits that live outside. Most formulations for rabbits will flea and worm at the same time.
What are Caecotrophs?
Caecotrophs are your rabbits faeces, however you should never see caecotrophs in a healthy rabbit as the rabbit should eat them off their coat as soon as they are produced. The are then re-digested and passed out in the form of hard round pellets. This is what is visible in your rabbits bedding as you clean it out
What is “Fly Strike” and how do I protect my Rabbits from it?
Fly strike occurs in the warmer months. Large flies will lay eggs on a warm moist part of your rabbits coat, usually around the bum. These eggs hatch into flesh eating larvae, which can cause death of your rabbit within 48 hours of initial infestation. The biggest risk factor for fly strike is obesity, and illness or old age, as any of these reasons could prevent your rabbit from ingesting their produced caecotrophs thus attracting flies to lay their eggs here.
Do my Rabbits need their teeth filing regularly?
Not necessarily but all rabbits should have their teeth inspected every six months to check for spurs or overgrowth. Some rabbits have malformations of the incisors(front teeth having an over bite or under bite) and will require filing at the vets every 6-8 weeks depending on growth. In very bad cases the incisors may be removed to avoid the stress of repeated filing, although many rabbits tolerate it while awake.
How long will my Rabbits live for?
Be prepared to take care of your rabbit for a lifespan of 8-12 years!