Rabbits are fantastic pets, they are friendly, playful, curious and content to play with their owners and are more than happy to be held and stroked. With the correct diet, care and handling you and you rabbit can lead a long and happy life together. So here are a few important things you need to know in order to enjoy your experience of being a rabbit owner.
Rabbits love to socialise, therefore it’s better to have more than one, and they should be of similar size to prevent bullying. Rabbits from the same litter are ideal because they will get on well, its important to remember to get your rabbit neutered, to prevent any unwanted births. Un-related females may just tolerate each other if they are given their own space, but still may fight. Un-related males will certainly not get along, and could potentially inflict some nasty injuries onto each other.
The best idea is to pair a neutered male with a neutered female, but not all rabbits will be friendly to one another, so it may be a good idea to ask your vet what would be the best way of introducing them correctly.
You should never keep rabbits with guinea pigs or chinchillas. They have completely different housing and food needs and may fight with each other.
Homing your rabbit
Whether your rabbits are living indoors or outdoors, a hutch with a run permanently attached is perfect for your rabbit. Think of the hutch as its bedroom, the rabbit is going to want to play and explore, so they should have access to the run at all times so they can choose whether they want to be inside or outside as they wish.
The hutch should be high enough for your rabbit to stand on their back legs, and to stretch out fully, they should have enough floor space to do at least three to four hops in every direction. It goes without saying that the more rabbits you have the bigger the hutch will need to be. It’s important that they have their own toilet and eating areas, and a place where they can go to be alone, as everyone enjoys their own privacy.
You should line the floor with newspaper and then cover the newspaper with bedding such as straw or dust free wood chippings this absorb the urine and keeps the hutch warm and comfortable. Hutches should always be dry, well-ventilated and kept cool. Heat can be fatal so if you’re keeping your rabbit indoors then avoid placing the cage next to a radiator. If you’re keeping yours outside avoid direct sunlight, and when it gets colder add extra bedding into their hutch and move into a garage.
It’s important to keep your rabbit’s hutch clean, they can leave scent markings and if they are removed it may cause the rabbit distress. Bedding should be changed every two or three days, so always leave a small patch in the corner so the hutch smells familiar.
If you’re housing your rabbit indoors it’s important to consider the surroundings. The house needs to be ‘rabbit proofed’. Wires are very appealing so it may be an idea to duct the metal wires so they’re covered up. Also, laminate or wooden floors can cause your rabbits to slip potentially injuring their lower backs. So be wary.
It’s important to ‘predator proof’ the area in which they’re living. The fear of predators like rats, dogs, foxes and birds can cause distress, so it’s important to minimise this potential for example, cover your hutch on a night time so your rabbit can’t see outside if any predators do enter your garden on a night. You should also make sure your garden is free of poisonous plants that your rabbit may be tempted to nibble on.