If for any reason you have concern for the health of bunny,
ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VET
CARING FOR YOUR BUNNY
Rabbits are naturally inquisitive and friendly, however if they are mistreated and/or mishandled, the only way they can respond is to scratch and/or bite. So education on the correct way to handle and care for your rabbit is of utmost importance.
DO NOT bring a rabbit into your home with the intention of a child being totally responsible for it. It is harmful to the welfare of the rabbit if you impose a life of being shut in a hutch, they deserve the best possible living conditions and the chance to move around freely, in a safe and stimulating environment. They also need warmth ,affection and companionship. If your bunny is lonely or bored it is your responsibility to do something about it. In return your bunny will respond by becoming friendly and affectionate, and a very special family member.
A new home can be stressful for bunny, especially for a youngster who has been taken from mum and the rest of the litter, give a little time for adjustment.
HANDLING YOUR BUNNY
Never pick up your pet by the ears or by the scruff of the neck, the ears are very sensitive and can be easily damaged, both of these methods of handling are painful and stressful to bunny. The correct way is one hand under the tummy, the other supporting the bottom. Hold bunny close to your body so he/she feels safe. With a new or fiesty bunny it is advisable to sit on the floor with him/her until you both feel confident, that way he wont be injured if jumps from you. Panic causes bunny to move extremely quickly, it only takes a few seconds for him/her to fall and twist. The more you handle your bunny the better the pet you will have. Rabbits are bright animals, sodo not under estimate their intelligence. Rabbits also enjoy playing with toys, baby rattles & balls, are a few of their favorites.
HOUSING YOUR BUNNY
The cage or hutch need sto be the correct size for your rabbit. He/she should have ample room to move freely, stretch up & out and hop/run around (if you are unsure of a youngsters breed you mey be caught out), this needs to be raised from the ground, draught free and waterproof, and securely made to protect your bunny from predators. A cover should be placed over the cage on cold nights. The cage contents should be scooped & freshened daily, with a complete clean at least once a week. This should be replaced with a thick layer of newspaper & a clean bed of Barley straw. A litter tray can be used. Let bunny find their own toilet area, put a tray in place and bunny will soon use it. A garden run can be used but it is advisable not to give your rabbit to much freedomto begin with, build the time allowed out up, as your bunny gets used to you and being caught. Remember you should have to chase your pet, too much !!!! Of coarse, bunnies also make wonderful house pets !!!
It is advisable to vaccinate your bunny against VHD (yearly) and Myxomatosis (every 6mths). These should be ten days to two weeks apart. Your bunny may be quiet for a few days after each vaccination.
Although vaccinating does not entirely prevent the disease, it does give bunny a chance to survive.
Babies can be vaccinated from approx. 8 weeks of age. Each vaccination consists of 1 injection per virus.
Bucks can be done from 16 weeks old : this can help with behaviour and spraying urine.
Does can be done from 6mths old : this prevents uterine cancer and hormonally aggressive behaviour.
This also helps companion bunnies to live happily together.
Check your bunnies drinking water. A bunny that is not drinking water, is almost certainly not eating either. This is a danger sign that you need to investigate more thoroughly. Make sure he/she has clean, fresh, cool water at all times, especially during the hot summer months. Also, make sure that the water bottle is not leaking, or blocked or dirty :- A dehydrated bunny deteriorates rapidly.
One of the first signs that a bunny is sick is that he/she stops eating. Check the food dish every day, check around and underneath to make sure that your bunny has eaten his/her food and not just thrown it around. Never top up the half full food dish, as it becomes stale very fast and moulds and toxins can build up, which can be very harmful to rabbits. Food should be stored out of sunlight, in a clean air-tight container.
Do not play around with your bunnys diet, if for any reason you have to change his/her diet, do it gradually, introducing the new brand a little at a time, incorporating it into what he/she is already being fed, slowly building up. Your bunny has a very delicate digestive system, sudden changes are harmful. All Belgrave Bunnies are fed on My Pet Foods Super Rabbit Mix. It is high in protien and provides all the essential vitamins and minerals that bunny needs. Daily treats, of fresh fruit and veg, will also help to ensure that bunny stays happy and healthy.
Always maintain a fresh supply of quality hay for your bunny, remove any left from the previous day. Always store your hay in dry conditions as damp hay goes mouldy very quickly and must not be fed to your bunny.
Feed your bunny fresh greens and fruit, but remember everything in moderation, what seems like a little to us is a lot for buuny, to much leads to diarrhoea. Never feed bunny fruit/veg that you wouldnt eat yourself. Cauliflower heads, a few leaves, carrots, celery, dandelion leaves, brussel sprouts leaves. Cabbage may be fed in small amounts but sometimes causes upset tums.
Lettuce ................................................. is poisonous to rabbits
Runner beans and leaves........................are poisonous to rabbits
Rhubarb/tomato leaves ............................are poisonous to rabbits
Potato sprouts ............................................are poisonous to rabbits
Bunnies do not know what is bad for them,
so it is down to you to do the research.
Take a look at your bunny. Does he/she look bright and alert, or is he/she just sitting around, in a listless sort of way. Is he/she relaxed, hunched up, or grinding his/her teeth ( which is a sign of pain). Is your bunny behaving the way he/she usually does ?
After time with bunny, owners will tell you that the first sign that they have illness is :"the rabbit just didnt act the same".
Look in your bunnies ears. Are there signs of a wax build up or a grey-black debris? If so, the rabbit needs to be checked for ear-mites, and treated if needed. Redness and signs of infection need to be looked at by your vet. If your bunny shakes its head and scratches behind its ears more than usual, it may have ear mites.
A healthy bunny has bright, alert eyes. Watery eyes, eyes with lots of redness and puss are all signs of an eye infection that needs veterinary attention. Dull eyes indicate that the rabbit isnt feeling well, and you need to investigate further to determine the cause - wood shavings and sawdust can cause eye problems.
If your bunny is sneezing with a wet runny nose it could be that he/she has sniffed in particles of grain dust or bedding. However it could also be a sign of illness, such as Snuffles. This is highly infectious and can lead to pneumonia, it is a potentially fatal illness, so immediate attention from a vet is advised.
Check your bunny for signs of broken/overgrown teeth. Bunny teeth grow constantly and need to wear against each other, front teeth for gnawing and back teeth for chewing. Two reasons for teeth overgrowing are dietry and hereditary problems. plenty of hay and chewing is essential, a rack full of hay provides a constant source of chewing and activity (bunnies can chew through hutches and chicken wire ! ). Sometimes bunny may need teeth clipped by the vet but this is stressful and can be painful, the final resort would be to have the teeth removed.
If bunnies teeth are left overgrown it will make it impossible for him/her to eat/drink, resulting in death.
Check the bottoms of the feet weekly for signs of abrasion, infection or sores. Sore hocks can result from poor sanitation, clean your bunnies hutch or cage regularly with a proprietary cleaner. Check his/her housing for roughspots on the timber or wire, this can also cause sore hocks. Some bunnies seem to inherit a tendency for this condition. If not caught in time, it can result in an abscess or a systemic infection that can make your rabbit very ill.
You will also need to check your bunnies nails. Make sure that they are not getting too long, and that none have broken off. Nails need to be clipped regularly, avoiding cutting into the blood line in the centre of the nail. Rabbits nails should not be clipped untill they are 6 months old.
The first sign of many rabbit diseases appear in the droppings. There several warning signs that will be obvious if you check daily. Droppings that are diarrhoea-like, or contain mucous or blood, are a strong sign that your bunny needs a visit to the vet. If the droppings start to increase in size, or your bunny stops producing droppings, veterinary attention is needed. Also be on the lookout for an increase in "string-of-pearl" droppings- droppings that are strung together with hair. Although occasional string-of-pearl droppings are a sign that bunny is passing the hair through his/her system, an increase can be a sign that a wool block is developing, due to excessive grooming for the rabbit. No droppings at all, means bunny needs veterinary treatment straight away.
One of the fastest killers of rabbits, especially young rabbits, is Scouring. This is easily recognised as a green jellyish liquid staining the underneath of your rabbit. Pick up your bunny every day, and check underneath. Does he/she have droppings stuck in his/her fur? If so, clean off with a safe antiseptic disinfectant, e.g Savlon. If the rabbit has Scoured, you will need to take immediate action.
When you pick up your bunny, you should immediately be able to tell if it "doesnt feel right". A healthy rabbit feels solid and sturdy. Squishy, sounds from the tummy mean the rabbit might be developing an upset tum. You should be able to tell if your bunny is losing weight, or feels bony. If it does, you may need to find out why as soon as you can.
Look at you bunnys coat. Does it have any fleas in it, or any white dandruff-like particles, or black flea debris ? Is its skin flaky and dry ? Is it dull (no shine) ? Are there any cuts, wounds, abrasions, sores, scabs or other breaks in the skin ? If the bunny has any of these problems, you will need to treat them and take corrective action to prevent them from coming back. Bunnys do moult, so grooming is important - a small cat comb and brush are ideal. Done regularly your bunny will keep a lovely coat and the bond between you will strengthen. If bunny swallows too much fur, serious complications can occur.
At any time of the year fly-strike can occur but as the weather gets warmer (spring/summer) your bunny is more likely to be at risk. Flies lay their eggs in fur around your bunnys bottom and tail. Maggots emerge, usually within 12-24 hours, and start eating into the flesh. If left untreated bunny will be in extreme pain and eventually die. Be sure to check bunny twice a day, cleanliness is of extreme importance, especially if he/she has trouble cleaning him/herself. If you do have to wash bunny, dry him/her thoroughly, as he/she can chill easily. One helpful form of prevention is to spray him/her near his/her rear (not on the genitals) with a suitable fly repellent for rabbits (Bob Martins produce an excellant fly repellent ). Keep his/her hutch clean and fresh at all times as flies and insects lay eggs there too.
Rabbits get extremely hot in summer. Never leave your pet without a shady area and always make sure he/she has a good supply of fresh cool water (water also heats up ). A rabbit with heat exhaustion will lie outstretched breathing rapidly with nostrils wide open. If his/her temperature becomes to high he/she may die if immediate action is not taken.
Emergency treatmant prior to seeing a vet is as follows :
Move bunny to a shaded area and offer room temperature water to drink. Apply a damp cool compress first to the head and then to the legs and body.
DO NOT use ice cold water/compress as bunny could go into shock and NEVER plunge bunny into cold water.
Sometimes a sealed container, such as a plastic milk carton (watch for bunny chewing), filled with cold water, placed in hutch or near bunny can help. He/she can lay against it to keep cool and it will also act as an air conditioner.
A HELPFUL LIST OF PLANTS / FLOWERS / VEG THAT IS / ISNT SUITABLE FOR BUNNIES
Treats for bunny - in small amounts
Bread - must be dried to rock hard
Hard burnt toast - very nutritious
Cabbage ( outside dark green leaves are high in Vitamin C )
Corn on the cob
Carrots - carrot tops
Savoy / kale
For bunny having the run of the garden all of the following are safe :
Clover - not Red Clover
Dandelions - very small amounts, as plant is diruretic / laxative
Nettles - high in protien
Poisonous and dangerous plants that bunny should not be allowed to eat.
All plants grown from bulbs
Frozen or wet greens / vegetables
Lily of the valley
Love - in - a - mist
Many, if not most houseplants are poisonious, so if bunny lives or comes indoors, keep all out of reach.
This is only a small list that we hope will be helpful.
Always make sure food is washed clean and dry.
PESTICIDES / CHEMICALS WILL KILL BUNNY
Litter Triaining Rabbits
Rabbits are somewhat naturals at litter training, although some flexibility may be required by the owner. Rabbits naturally pick one or more toilet areas, and owners can take advantage of this in litter training.
First a suitable litter is needed. The rabbit will probably like to lay in the litter box and may even nibble on the litter, so something absorbent and safe is necessary. Rabbit urine also has a strong odor, so something that absorbs odor is preferable. Litters can be found that are made from a variety of materials that work well, including alfalfa, recycled paper, citrus, or oats. Hay can work well too, and some owners even use rabbit pellets as these are economical (but may not be the best choice as the rabbit may overeat if pellets are constantly available). Clay and clumping litters are not a good choice as the rabbit will likely ingest some litter.
For litter pans, cat litter boxes work pretty well, although smaller pans such as cake pans may work for smaller rabbits. If your rabbit tends to back right up to the edge and deposit outside the box, some creativity may be required. A covered cat box is a good option, or a dishpan that has higher sides can work as well (an lower entry can be cut into one side). As mentioned earlier, working with your rabbit is the best way to accomplish reliable training.
Older rabbits are a little easier to train, as they do not need to eliminate as frequently and their natural desire for cleanliness is more developed. However, once rabbits hit puberty the desire to mark territory becomes very strong, so spaying or neutering by 4-6 months of age will make litter training a lot easier. Along with health benefits, undesirable urine spraying and other marking behaviors will be drastically reduced. As well, marking will be reduced if the rabbit feels secure in its home. Tips to reduce the territorial marking by rabbits include not reaching into the cage to pull the rabbit out (makes a rabbit feel threatened), not forcing the rabbit back into its cage, and doing maintenance tasks (cleaning, refilling water, etc.) while the rabbit is out which will not disturb the rabbit while in its cage. It is preferable to allow the rabbit to come and go from the cage at it's own will - which may not be the most convenient but if the rabbit is marking its cage or cage area this may be necessary. Try to set up the cage so the rabbit has easy access in and out, let the rabbit come out on it's own terms and gently try to herd or entice the rabbit bake into it's cage rather than picking it up and forcing it in.
To start, confinement and supervision is the key. If a rabbit is allowed to urinate and defecate wherever it likes from the beginning, it will be much harder to train. Keeping in a cage (not too large at first) with a litter pan, and watching carefully when the rabbit out out will be necessary in the beginning. Place a litter box in the cage, and note where the rabbit goes. It may start using the box, or it may pick another corner of the cage. If this is the case, then move the litter box to here the rabbit seems to prefer. Flexibility on litter box placement may be necessary both in and out of the cage.
Once the rabbit is using the litter pan in the cage, allow the rabbit out of the cage in a limited space. Provide a litter box outside the cage, and perhaps make it enticing by placing a a treat or favorite toy in the box. Watch the rabbit for signs it is about to urinate or defecate (usually backs up and lifts tail slightly), and try to herd it to the box immediately (if your rabbit is very calm about being picked up it should be okay to place it right in the box). If the rabbit uses the box, give the rabbit a treat: food, toy, petting, or praise (whichever would be the best reward for the individual bunny) right away. If you notice the rabbit tends to head to one area to do its business, consider putting the box here.
Accidents will happen, and punishment has no place in training a rabbit. If the rabbit has an accident, it won't hurt to take the rabbit to the box, although the rabbit may not make the connection. Clean the spot with club soda, diluted vinegar, or a commercial pet stain/odor remover, and watch the rabbit more carefully while it is out. The key is to get the rabbit to the box before it goes.
Over time, the rabbit should develop a preference for using the box, and the freedom of the rabbit can be increased. More boxes may be necessary as the amount of space your rabbit is allowed increases, as the rabbit may not be inclined to travel a relatively long way to find a box. Again, if the rabbit repeatedly chooses one place in he room to eliminate, consider moving a litter box there, it is often easiest to work with what the rabbit naturally wants to do. If such a location is really incomvenient, try using a box there for a while and then gradually move it out of the way a bit.
The process sounds daunting, but usually goes pretty smoothly as long as the owner works with the rabbit's natural tendencies and provides undivided attention to the rabbit during it's free time in the beginning. Establishing a routine with your rabbit will also help, as rabbits are creatures of habit. Sometimes a previously trained rabbit will get a little careless, and this usually means starting from the beginning with restricted freedom until the rabbit is trained again.