Care of Pet Rabbits

Rabbits are best kept singly, in separate cages. Two males (even littermates) will fight and damage each other; two females will often do the same. A male (buck) housed with a female (doe) will mean that the doe is continually pregnant, and also will kill the young (kits) when they are born.

 

 

The cage needs to be of untreated timber, and only non-toxic paints used, as the rabbits will chew the wood. A wire netting lined floor is best, to prevent the rabbit digging out under the cage. The covered in house part needs to be large enough for the rabbit to lie down and stretch out in, and needs to have solid flooring, which can be cleaned readily. It is best to have a smaller box within the ‘house’ enclosure, perhaps upside down and with an opening in it at floor level. This mimics more closely the burrow that rabbits would normally live in.

Bedding of clean good quality hay must be provided. The importance of this cannot be overestimated, both as insulation for the artificial ‘burrow’, and for the rabbit to eat. Bedding should be completely changed twice per week.

Rabbits require a very high fibre diet for good health, and hay provides this. There should be clean water always available, and fresh (never mouldy) rabbit pellets. Greens such as carrots, parsley, grass etc are a relished treats, but do not replace the all-important hay in the diet. Rabbits appreciate things such as apple, lemon or willow branches to chew on, thus keeping their teeth healthy.

All rabbits should be vaccinated for Rabbit Calicivirus disease (RCD) The first vaccination should be given around 8 weeks of age with a booster in 1 month, then yearly vaccinations. Cost of this is about $45.00 per vaccination. The disease causes sudden death and is seen locally within Taranaki.

Rabbits can be spayed or neutered – however speak to your vet to see if they perform these surgeries.