It's Rabbit Awareness Week! From what I can tell, due to the current situation, a lot of rabbit awareness events have been cancelled. However, I think this is an important subject so I will be promoting care that rabbits need.
Rabbit Awareness Week
Rabbit Awareness Week starts on the 1st June. This highlights the welfare needs of rabbits including the necessary vaccinations. This is a worthwhile week as usually free bunny checks are available at vets etc. Due to the virus, these have been cancelled.
If you are concerned about your rabbit's health or behaviour, please ring your vet for an appointment. If you want a check up or nail trim, a veterinary nurse appointment may be suitable.
Burgess Excel, a rabbit food manufacturer has produced an information pack. It is worth downloading as has activities for children such as colouring in, word search, care leaflets and how to make activity feeders for rabbits. If you are considering getting a rabbit, the RSPCA website has lot of information that covers rabbit health, housing, entertainment and enrichment activities.
Care of Rabbits
Baby rabbits are adorable. I've often fallen in love at pet shops at the small fluffy bundles but am aware that they need lots of time and space over their lifetime. Rabbits as pets can live for up to 12 years according to the Blue Cross.
The RSPCA have got a wealth of information on their website. They have a downloadable PDF's but there is one that lists the costs that you will encounter with rabbits and the possible vet costs. Basic housing, food and care can cost just over £1000 for one rabbit each year. They also suggest the time needed to care for a pair of rabbits is an hour a day. This is not a pet to get on a whim.
There are many breeds of rabbits. I have got a thing for lionhead, dwarf and angora breeds. Many, many years ago, I had a dwarf rabbit and an angora rabbit. The angora was quite a stroppy madam! She was very destructive and even nibbled the skirting boards.
Before you get a rabbit, please research their requirements to make sure you can provide the care that they need. In a previous article, I covered the minimum animal welfare requirements. The main things a prospective rabbit owner should consider are listed briefly below.
Rabbits should be vaccinated to be protected against myxomatosis, Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) and RVHD2. All of which can cause suffering and death.
These are diseases can be carried in the air, on clothing, by wildlife or other rabbits.
I could go on for ages about how the rabbits would suffer if they got any of these diseases, but take my word for it - vaccinations help keep your pet safe and alive.
As with most pets, neutering is recommended. Not only to prevent unwanted litters of babies; but also to prevent cancers that are related to hormone production. The chances of uterine tract infections are reduced.
As the pet won't be experiencing changes in hormone levels, it is more likely to be calmer and less aggressive.
Like cats and dogs, rabbits should be microchipped too. This means, if the rabbit escapes, there is a higher chance of your pet getting returned to you.
Vets often perform microchipping at the same time as neutering. Microchipping is a very quick process! Such a valuable resource for owners to have peace of mind.
Rabbits need an environment where they are able to perform normal behaviour. This includes space to run, jump, graze, stretch out.
Mental stimulation is important to keep pets happy. This can be done by making activity feeders or spreading their food out so they have to forage for it.
Traditional hutches are usually too small. Bear in mind, different breeds of rabbits have different adult sizes. So research before you purchase either the pet or the home.
The rabbits should have enough space in their home to have a safe place to hide, stretch out, move and stand on their back legs.
Security is an important consideration as rabbits are escape artists. They will persist to find a way out.
Their home should not be in a draught but should have ventilation. If possible, it should be protected from the weather such as direct rain or sunlight.
If kept inside, be aware that rabbits will have a nibble at anything. Wires, carpet, anything they can get their teeth on. Also rabbits have massive wees so if they have litter tray accidents...
This website has great guidance on finding what is the minimum sized home and exercise space for a rabbit. Don't forget if you have more than one rabbit, you will need a bigger home.
With this lovely weather that we are having at the moment, make sure they have got shade, water and air flow. Heat stroke can kill them.
Rabbits need companionship; from their own species and humans. So often rabbits end up forgotten outside. They need daily interaction and cuddles.
Guinea pigs are not suitable companions. Rabbits have a different nature and may damage the guinea pigs with their hind legs. Also they have different food needs.
This helps create a bond between you and your pet! Some will need grooming more often than others depending on the length of their fur.
Grooming the rabbit will give the owner a chance to check it over for health problems, teeth, nails and to make sure any faeces is removed from their fur.
Each day their toilet corner needs changing out. Wet bedding needs to be removed daily and replaced. Each week their whole cage and enclosure should be cleaned out.
Hay is a major part of a rabbits diet. Fresh, dry hay should be available at all times. This will help wear down their ever growing teeth. Rabbits need food suitable for them. Dry food should be always available and supplemented with fresh food.
Not all fresh food is suitable for rabbits!
This is just a brief overview of rabbits needs. Please research more before purchasing a pet.
Rabbit Boarding with Wirral Whiskers
We had Snowball, the giant rabbit pictured stay for three weeks last Christmas. Her owner had found me via Google as she was looking for particular care for her rabbit. We had an email chat to establish what was needed for her rabbit and if I could provide for Snowball's needs.
I do my best to provide the housing and care that the pet receives at home. Snowball was a house rabbit so we prepared a room for her where she had a large dog pen with her bed and litter tray in. As she had the whole run of the house at her home, I did my best to sit in with her a lot so she was only in her pen at night. Snowball has a big garden to explore at home with lots of space.
I collected Snowball from her house so that I could see how she lived and behaved. This made me feel better as we spent an hour going over her likes and dislikes. The owner also showed me her vaccination certificate.
Snowball was a joy to look after. The owner loved her pet so much and this rabbit was cared for very well! I felt honoured to have been trusted with her rabbit.
As I'd not had a giant rabbit before, I was surprised at how much wee she did. It was great that she was litter tray trained. She wanted care and affection - if I was sat on the floor typing, she would nip my foot for attention. My husband and I sat with her to work or eat meals. My little girl loved having her but decided it would be too much work every day.
Snowball has since got a new friend. The owner has sent me photos and updates with progress on how they are getting on.
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