Gone are the days when Thumper was a lone rabbit crammed into a minuscule hutch in the backyard. Our bunny-kids are very much pampered members of the family, living in tailor-made bunny palaces or taking over an entire room of the house. Once you fall in love with your first rabbit, you realise they have complex rich social lives, want to be involved in everything you do, and have some specialised needs to be met to keep healthy and happy.
Wild rabbits live in large groups, eat an exclusive diet of grass and fibrous plants, and hop miles each day playing and avoiding predators. Despite the fluffy coats and floppy ears, our bunnies are the same!Many of the common rabbit health problems can be avoided or minimised by understanding their uniqueness. Rabbits are great at hiding pain but can become ill just from being in discomfort. This means it’s extra important to ensure they are healthy and catch any illnesses early.
Rabbits' guts and teeth are designed for an extremely high fibre diet - around 90%! The best source of fibre is grass freshly eaten directly from the garden or in good quality bales of hay like those in our online shop. Do not give your rabbit grass cuttings as it can cause fatal illness. Fresh leafy vegetables make up the remainder of the diet. Give fruit, root vegetables, fresh herbs, dried herbs, and a small amount of dried rabbit pellets as supplementation and treats.
Rabbit gnashers grow around 2mm every week! Can you imagine your teeth after one month of this growth?! High fibre is best for giving all of your rabbit's teeth a workout to prevent overgrowth. Overgrown teeth cause extremely painful toothache or may cause starvation, permanent damage to the soft structures of the mouth, and even damage to the eyeballs. Teeth problems are one of the top causes of rabbits passing away but luckily a good diet is preventative.
Your rabbit’s incredibly soft coat is all part of their charm but also needs regular upkeep for health reasons. Long-haired rabbits need daily grooming to keep them clean and prevent painful mats and deadly fly strike. See here for skin care or wound care.
Rabbits' huge eyes give them their gorgeous looks - and also function as 360degree headlamps designed for spotting danger from almost every angle. Because of their size and bulge, they are prone to injury and need extra eye care.
Rabbits are not designed to live alone so ideally, each rabbit should be part of a bonded pair. This means they have a 24/7 companion for their physical and mental well-being. A rabbit who can’t share shifts on ‘danger watch’ and get rest, can become depressed and stressed. If you need help finding a bond partner for your rabbit, chat with your veterinarian about how to do this as rabbits are quite territorial. It is best to have your pet neutered but if you have any questions on feeding baby rabbits see our rabbit food selection.
Like any pet, bunnies can pick up bugs and parasites while living their best life. There are preventative measures you can take to avoid and treat parasites such as flies (flystrike), ticks, fleas and worms.
Rabbits tend to hide their symptoms until things are advanced so contact your vet immediately if your rabbit is:
● Off their food for more than one meal
● Hunched up
● Not passing poop
● Grinding teeth
● Wet or uncomfortable around their bottom
● Seizing or circling