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RABBIT CARE & ADVICE

Vaccinations

 Rabbits should be vaccinated against calicivirus at 6-8 weeks of age, and again at 10 - 12 weeks of age. Booster vaccinations are then performed every 6 months to maintain immunity throughout your rabbits life. Unfortunately Calicivirus and Myxomatosis were introduced into Australia to help control the wild rabbit population, but the virus does not discriminate and if your rabbit in housed outside they should be vaccinated and their hutch regularly checked for security.  

 

Fleas & Mites

Rabbits can get fleas, fur and ear mites. Symptoms for any of these parasites include, scratching, dry/flakey or dandruff like skin and hair loss. Advantage and Revolution can be used of rabbits to control these parasites. Contact us to discuss dosage and proper application techniques.  

 

Dental Care

Rabbits teeth continually grow throughout their life but should be worn down consistently and naturally through their diet (chewing hay). Unfortunately, it is possible that the teeth can become overgrown. We often see rabbits with overgrown teeth due to poor diet or chronic illness. If this occurs your rabbit will need their teeth burred down regularly under general anaesthesia. 

Desexing

We recommend desexing rabbits between 4 and 6 months of age. We would recommend 4 months of age if you have multiple males sharing a hutch or both male and female rabbits sharing a hutch. If you have just one rabbit, with no possibility they can be accessed by another rabbit (indoor living or secure hutch) waiting until 6 months of age is ok.

 

We recommend desexing for a number of reasons, 

  • Birth control. Female rabbits can have up to 12 rabbits in each litter and cycle all year round. 

  • Prevention of cancers. It is estimated that between 65 - 80% of entire female rabbits will develop fatal uterine cancer if undesexed. 

  • Reduction of testosterone. Undesexed male rabbits are likely to show aggression to both people and other rabbits. This can result in expensive treatment of wounds inflicted between the male rabbits, or bite injuries to yourself and/or your children. 

Diet

Desexing surgery for a rabbit is a day procedure. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits do not need to fast prior to surgery. Instead we ask the owners to bring their normal/favourite food in with the rabbit so it can continue eating until right before surgery and start eating again as soon as possible afterwards.

Enrichment 

Rabbits in the wild usually spend their days eating, digging, running, hiding, and socialising with other rabbits. For your pet rabbit some of these behaviours need to be supplemented in their enclosure to ensure a happy & healthy pet. Luckily most enrichment can revolve around foraging behaviours with supplies you will already have for your bunny, the main one being hay!

  • Hanging Hay Basket - Rabbits need to graze on hay for both their diet needs and dental care. Instead of spreading it on the hutch floor you can purchase hanging baskets from your local garden store, fill with hay and suspend from the top of their enclosure. This prevents the hay from becoming soiled quickly, encourages your rabbit to reach and stretch for its food. 

  • Scatter feeding - As mentioned above, rabbits like to forage and snuffle around for their food. Throwing their food in their enclosure instead of leaving it in a bowl creates an easy enrichment activity. 

  • Creative feeding - More out of the box ideas for feeding are: Placing hay inside a finished toilet roll, placing their food spread out in an old muffin tray (not silicon as they may eat this too) and using a treat ball stuffed with food for them to roll the food out of. 

  • Digging tray - a large litter tray can be used as a digging outlet for your rabbit. Just fill with soil and let the rabbit do the rest. 

  • Tunnels -  you can buy tunnels from pet shops or can create your own using cardboard boxes with a hole cut at each end (rabbits need an entrance and exit option to feel safe). 

  • Room to rear up - Rabbits need have at least 1 metre of height so they can stretch up within their enclosure. This will avoid a painful spinal deformity and encourages normal behaviour.