Rabbit care

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Many people have rabbits as one more domestic pet, but although their possession is common, it is true that it requires more specific care than another type of animal. You must know the rabbit as a wild animal to be able to provide everything it deserves and needs. For this reason, you must correctly inform yourself of what they are rabbit care.

In order to help you and have a happy rabbit at home, in this AnimalWised article we will talk about how to care for a rabbit and all that that entails: food, health, vaccines, education, etc..

You may also be interested in: Angora rabbit care Index
  1. The rabbit as a pet
  2. How many years do rabbits last?
  3. The rabbit cage
  4. Rabbit feeding
  5. Rabbit hygiene
  6. Rabbit physical activity
  7. Rabbit health
  8. How to catch a rabbit?
  9. Do rabbits recognize their owners?
  10. Rabbit curiosities
  11. Do you want to know more about rabbits?

The rabbit as a pet

In many cases, and due to ignorance, many owners believe that the rabbit is a rodent and that, like any other, it requires a cage, food and little else. But it's not like that. In fact, the taxonomy of the rabbit is quite another. The rabbit is a lagomorph, that is, an order belonging to placental mammals that is distinguished from rodents by presenting 2 pairs of continuously growing incisors, in addition to having other physical and behavioral differences that make it require special care unlike hamsters or guinea pigs..

In addition to some obvious differences, we must bear in mind that the rabbit is an animal that when it is free runs throughout the day, digs and enjoys the smell of plants and flowers. The rabbit is also a social animal that needs care and affection by their owners. If you take care of him and dedicate enough time to him, you will have by your side an incredible friend with long ears and soft hair.

To start with rabbit care, It only remains to add that all are equally important and that spending time with our pet will increase its longevity, quality of life and happiness.. ¿Thinking of adopting a rabbit as a pet? So keep reading. But first, in the following video we show you some of the main care of rabbits.

How many years do rabbits last?

On average, rabbits have a life expectancy of between 6 and 8 years, although some may live up to 10 or 12 years. Everything will depend on how we take care of our pet, as well as its genetic conditions, since there are breeds of rabbits that last longer than others..

Wild rabbits, meanwhile, have a shorter life expectancy of about 3-4 years due to predators and untreated diseases..

For more information, you can read this other article about ¿How long does a rabbit live?

The rabbit cage

The cage will be your rabbit's nest, where it will sleep and spend most of its time. Therefore, we recommend that you provide a cage as spacious as possible so you can move the more the better. The size will be directly related to their quality of life and, for that reason, we advise you to have one of 80 cm2 minimum, always located in an environment without currents or direct sun. It is true that in the market you will find even smaller cages, but we do not recommend that you have such a small space because it can generate anxiety. There are people who even dedicate whole rooms for their genetic space needs.

Rabbits are social animals and if you plan to have a couple of friends you will need a space of at least 4 m2 (as recommended by animal associations).

Types of rabbit cages

On the other hand, keep in mind that there are different types of rabbit cages, so it is important that you choose the most suitable for you and your pet:

  • Indoor cages: most of the cages that we can find in pet stores are indoor, that is, cages to keep indoors. In addition, you will find some with wider doors than others. In this sense, the bigger the cage and its corresponding door, the better for our rabbit. This will allow you to get in and out of the cage more easily.
  • Outdoor cagesOn the other hand, if you are considering having your rabbit in a garden or area outside the home, you will be interested to know that there are suitable cages for the outside of the home. Most of these do not have soil, that is to say, the animal will step directly on the grass or the earth of your garden. This type of cage without soil is not recommended if you have dirt instead of grass, since your pet could mistakenly eat dirt or stones.
  • Rabbit hutches: if you have adopted a pregnant rabbit, it is necessary that you get a hutch-type cage, as it will have everything you need for the future mother to give birth comfortably, as well as for her kittens to be safe.
  • Grating cages: you will also find some cages whose surface is iron bars or mesh. These types of cages are not very suitable for rabbits, since, not only are they not comfortable for our pet, but they are also very unhygienic.
  • Transport cages or carriers: more than cages, they are temporary transports to take our rabbit to another place, such as the vet. There are several types and materials, one made of plastic being preferable to one made of fabric, since the fabric can be easily bitten.
  • Wooden cages: Although they are very pretty, they are not always large enough for our pet to be comfortable. Generally, these types of cages are usually outside the homes, so it is advisable to put, for example, a fence around the wooden cage to be able to keep it open and, thus, offer a larger space to move around.

¿What should the rabbit cage have?

Inside the cage we will have:

  • Tray or corner so they can relieve themselves and maintain a clean and hygienic environment. We will never use cat litter or similar (it can cause infections) so we can buy pressed chips that are available in any pet store. Its cleaning will be daily with a neutral soap.
  • Feeding bottle of at least 1/2 liter. We can also use a trough that is a small bowl with water, although it is less recommended as it will get dirty often and we will have to clean it more frequently. You will always have plenty of water.
  • Dispenser or bowl to locate feed, hay and daily rations of fruit and vegetables.
  • Bed, cotton towel or cloth are some of the elements where the rabbit will rest at night although it is true that many do not understand the "burrow " function that we want to provide them and end up relieving themselves there.
  • Gnawing woods. They should never be treated, as they could splinter and create a serious problem in the rabbit's intestines. We can choose wood from fruit trees such as apple, orange, etc., or buy untreated pine wood.

Choosing a suitable cage and providing it with everything it needs is crucial for our furry friend. When rabbits are in a confined space for a long time, they can become stressed. If you think your rabbit is under stress, you can read this other AnimalWised article about 5 signs of stress in rabbits..

Rabbit feeding

Rabbit feeding is specific for each stage of its life, as it does not always have the same need for nutrients, but in general we will always find these elements:

  • Hay: our rabbit should always have hay at his disposal, so it is recommended to give it in abundance. Since our rabbit's teeth never stop growing, they need to eat frequently to wear them down. In addition to that, hay is also very beneficial for the gastrointestinal health of our pet, as it helps to expel hairballs in the stomach and keeps the digestive system active..
  • I think: the feed must be in granules or pellets and must not contain added seeds or cereals. In addition, a minimum of 20% fiber or cellulose and a maximum of 16% protein must appear in its composition. From 6 months of age, the rabbit does not grow any more, so from that moment it will be necessary to give it only one tablespoon of feed for each kilo that our pet weighs to avoid problems such as obesity.
  • Vegetable: with vegetables we mean fresh grass and green leaves, such as carrot leaves, spinach, celery, endive, lamb's lettuce, dandelion, etc..

In the case of young rabbits (between 2 months and 7 months) will have at their disposal in a unlimited and in abundance all of the above items, except vegetables, which will be rationed in small daily portions. It is a fundamental growth stage for their development and, in addition, it is when they will begin to experiment with new flavors.

¿What do rabbits eat?

Some of the foods that the rabbit can eat are:

  • Fruits (always without seeds): such as apple, pear, peach, melon, grape, orange ... Give him small pieces, so that he begins to investigate which ones attract his attention the most.
  • Vegetables: such as tomato (only meat, since the leaves are poisonous to rabbits), endive, cabbage, cucumber, spinach, carrot, beans, broccoli or alfalfa. Try which ones you like the most, ¡each rabbit is a world!

Although some fruits are suitable for rabbits, it is advisable to give it to them only occasionally, as they are high in carbohydrates (i.e. sugars), which could lead to significant weight gain.

Forbidden foods for rabbits

Some foods, in addition to being unsuitable, are poisons for rabbits. Among the foods that the rabbit should never eat, the following stand out:

  • Seeds: all kinds will be avoided, including nuts, legumes and cereals.
  • Vegetables: we will avoid iceberg lettuce, cauliflower and curly parsley.
  • Food for other animals: as cat or dog food.
  • Other foods: cooked, meat, cheese, dairy, canned fruit or in syrup, including salt, sugar or barley
  • Poisonous foods: potato, onion, garlic, avocado, chocolate, tomato leaves, legumes, tea leaves, bamboo.
  • Poisonous plants: poinsettia, asparagus, belladonna, mushrooms, orchids, ivy, ferns, cacti, carnations, geraniums, mistletoe, narcissus, oak, cannabis, aloe vera, bulbs, violet, juniper and yew.

Here we show you a more extensive list of Prohibited Foods for rabbits.

Rabbit hygiene

Rabbits are very clean mammals that groom themselves. It is not advisable to bathe them unless dirty excessively, otherwise, they may lose the skin's natural protective layer. We will bathe the rabbit at most once or twice a year. We will try to remove any dirt that we can observe with baby wipes..

¿How to bathe a rabbit?

If in an exceptional case our rabbit has gotten very dirty, follow the steps below:

  1. Look for a quiet place to wash your rabbit, remember that they are very sensitive.
  2. Never put it on its back, it creates stress.
  3. Fill out a pica or a container with lukewarm water, make it pleasant for him.
  4. Simply use water to wash it, in case the dirt does not come out you can use a shampoo with a neutral pH.
  5. Rinse and dry.

¿How to brush a rabbit?

Also, remember that you must brush your rabbit habitually to remove dead hair and prevent swallowing. It is also important that you use the specific nail clippers if you see that they have grown excessively, always with care.

To brush your rabbit, you will have to do it with a lot of softness and care. Normally, the most difficult areas to brush are the belly part of the tail, since the rabbit can move a lot.

¿How to clean the rabbit cage?

Likewise, it is very important to keep our rabbit's cage and play area clean. To clean in depth, you can use a little bleach or vinegar, always taking care to keep the animal away during cleaning.

Bleach and vinegar are perfect for eliminate bacteria and odor to the urine of our pet, so it becomes a perfect ally when we try to teach our rabbit to relieve itself in the corner.

Rabbit physical activity

As we have already mentioned, the rabbit is a mammal with a high physical activity when it is feral.

For this reason, it is very important to leave our rabbit get out of the cage at least a couple of times a day, always under supervision, as it can gnaw on cables or dangerous objects. We can also ride him tours with elements that we buy in the store or that we design ourselves. Toys of all kinds are allowed. Here we leave you some ideas of homemade toys for rabbits. It is also important that you spend time with him and show him love and attention. Remember that the rabbit is an intelligent animal that can learn tricks and commands if you spend time and patience.

Taking a rabbit for a walk

In addition, we will find more and more pet stores harness to take him for a walk, for example, to a meadow, a forest and even the beach. All this is important so that you smell and enjoy the wild environment without getting lost.

If you are going to take your rabbit out for a walk, put the harness on it for a few days at home, so that it gradually gets used to wearing it. When it comes to taking it out for a walk, look for quiet places and away from other types of pets, such as dogs.

To stimulate your furry, in the following video we give you some ideas of homemade toys for rabbits.

Rabbit health

Regarding this issue, in addition to daily hygiene, you should know that your rabbit should visit the vet periodically when he tells you to. They too need vaccination, as we show you in this other article on Vaccines for rabbits.

Most common diseases in rabbits

Here we detail the six most common diseases of rabbits:

  • Colds: Like people, rabbits also suffer from colds and can spread from each other. The symptoms are the same as in the case of humans (they secrete fluid through the nose and sneeze). Although a cold is not serious, since you will not need veterinary assistance, take special care of it during the time it is bad.
  • Mushrooms: fungi are a serious problem that can be transmitted from one rabbit to another. Take him to the vet as soon as possible in the presence of a fungus. It usually appears in young specimens and is detected by hair loss.
  • Coccidiosis: it appears when the rabbit licks dirty hair, drinks or feeds on water in bad condition. To avoid the appearance of this disease, take seriously the hygiene of the cage and the utensils. It is a very serious case that can lead to the death of the rabbit. Symptoms are sudden hair loss and diarrhea. Take him to the vet urgently.
  • Heatstroke: it is very common especially in times of heat. If you observe that the rabbit continually gasps and falls on all fours, it is the symptom that will indicate heat stroke. Do not take him to the vet unless he does not improve. Take it to a cool and quiet space, apply a few drops of cold water on the head and armpits, little by little you will see that it improves.
  • Red urine: If you see reddish urine but it is not blood, do not be alarmed, it is because you are feeding it with excessive green vegetables. You must give it plenty of water and vary the type. If after 12 hours the problem does not improve, go to the vet. You should not confuse this problem with bloody urine, a more serious problem that requires urgent and immediate treatment.
  • Scabies: these are small red insects that live in the ears of rabbits. It is about mites. It is also common for them to appear on the legs or skin. The most common is the one that appears in the ears and in advanced cases it already appears outside the ears. Go to the vet to recommend the most appropriate treatment to combat them (application of cranco lotion) and you must also sanitize all the cage and utensils with boiling water or chlorine and leave it in the sun for at least a day.

What's more, we recommend castration of the rabbit to avoid tumors when they reach adulthood, also avoiding suffering or an unwanted pregnancy. Here we leave you more information about the Sterilization of rabbits.

When to go to the vet

After reading the most common diseases in rabbits, you already know how to prevent them and how to act against them. Go to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • You haven't eaten or had a bowel movement in at least 12 hours.
  • You have not urinated in at least 24 hours.
  • He does not move and is very apathetic.
  • Your teeth have grown excessively.
  • You can see mucus in their stools.
  • Severe shortness of breath or runny nose.
  • Tilts head uncontrollably.
  • Has fallen and is not moving.
  • Before any type of seizure.
  • You notice significant scabs inside the ears.

In the following video, we explain more about the most common diseases of rabbits.

How to catch a rabbit?

Rabbits do not like to be lifted off the ground, as that makes them feel insecure. We have to think that in nature, those who lift them from the ground are predatory animals to feed on them. In this way, if we need to hold our pet, we will have to pass him one hand on the chest and the other on the hind legs. You do not have to grab them, just hold them a little so that you notice that you do not have them hanging in the air, that is, so that he understands that we are not a threat to him.

¿How not to catch a rabbit?

On the other hand, we should never catch a rabbit in the following ways:

  • By the ears.
  • For the skin.
  • By the legs.

If we do something like that, we could cause serious spinal trauma or fractures in our mascot.

Handling the rabbit

On the other hand, it is important to note that, also due to its nature, we must not chase him or make sudden movements, not even playing games, since we could scare him and, if the situation is repeated a lot, he could even become afraid of us. On the contrary, if we want our pet to love and trust us, we must be very patient and gentle with her.

Do rabbits recognize their owners?

Rabbits are very intelligent animals that, in addition to recognize its owner, they are able to recognize its name and learn to perform various exercises in exchange for bits of fruit or vegetables. On the other hand, rabbits are extremely sociable and they like to play and pay attention to them, therefore, if you give them a lot of love and give them time, rabbits will not only recognize you, but they will look for you to play and to ask you for caresses.

Also, rabbits they miss their owners If they are away from home for a few days, it shows how much rabbits can love us as pets.

Rabbit curiosities

  • His body temperature is usually between 38ºC and 40ºC.
  • They usually give them heat strokes in summer if we are not careful.
  • The ambient temperature should be around 18ºC or 21ºC.
  • They love living with other members of their species.
  • They can live between 6 and 10 years. There are cases of extremely long-lived rabbits in any case.
  • They like the night.
  • They reach sexual maturity between 3 and 6 months.
  • Rabbit teeth never stop growing, so it is important that they can wear them down by nibbling on untreated wood..
  • They need daily exercise.
  • Like cats and dogs, you should take it to the specialist from time to time.
  • Check and weigh him weekly to check that everything is correct.
  • They should not be bathed.
  • Rabbits make two types of poop, some similar to "conguitos " and others softer in the shape of a cluster. The latter are usually eaten by the rabbit himself. If we observe them in the cage, it is usually an indicator of overfeeding.
  • We must brush them regularly, especially in the molting season.
  • Pineapple and papaya prevent hairballs in the stomach.

Do you want to know more about rabbits?

Investigate the different breeds of rabbit and their characteristics as well as the development between the coexistence between cats and rabbits.

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