Domestic Rabbit Care Sheet
It is believed that Rabbits were first domesticated over 1400 years ago in Southern France. Since then we have studied these beautiful, sweet fluffy creatures, and we now understand their wants and needs.
Rabbits are understandably active animals and they need a lot of space to be able to exercise out their natural needs such as hopping, running, stretching, digging and standing upright on their back legs. A rabbit need to be able to do all these things on a regular basis to be able to keep fit and healthy.
Although these wonderful animals are now domesticated it doesn’t mean they have lost all of it’s natural wild instincts. So it will need a place to run to so it can hide from all those nasty things that scare them like DOGS! CATS! FOXES! and any other predator that it thinks may harm them.
Housing a rabbit isn’t always as easy as you think, it takes planning, dedication and lots of consideration. Buying a hutch from your local pet shop just isn’t enough. A good pet shop should be able to guide you in how you should house you new pet rabbit.
Firstly before you buy your hutch research how big your rabbit will eventually grow. Some rabbits can grow as big as a small dog so make sure you get a hutch that is big enough for the rabbit to be able to lay out fully flat and be able to move freely around the hutch to forage and most importantly be able to stand up fully on it’s back legs without its ears touching the roof. As well as the hutch you will need a completely secure run so your rabbit can exercise properly.
When finding a place to site your hutch and run consider where the sun rises and sets so your rabbit isn’t in full sun all day or in the cold shade all day, find somewhere there is both sunshine and shade to allow the rabbit to go in out of the warm area. Also think about prevailing winds and rain you don’t want the area you choose to flood or have standing water when it rains.
Remember to put extra bedding where the rabbit sleeps in winter to help to keep it warm.
All toilet facilities should be placed away from where your rabbit eats or sleeps, ideally as far away as possible. You can place a litter tray in this area with suitable litter or you can just lay some bedding down for them to go on. This area must be cleared every day with a small amount of litter/bedding left behind so the rabbit remembers where to go and then the whole accommodation should be cleaned once a week.
Food for your rabbit is so important, you must try your best to give your rabbit a good healthy diet. Rabbits in the wild mainly eat grass and other soft green plants.
Your rabbit must have hay and/or grass and fresh water every day in order to function properly, hay/grass will make up the majority of its diet if left to graze out in its run. You can feed a complimentary rabbit food or a complete food along side a selection of fresh green leaves and vegetables to ensure that your rabbit is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Research which leaves and plants you can get from the wild and also look to see which fresh foods you can buy for him/her. If you have a good pet shop near by with knowledgable staff you could ask them as well. Try to offer a good variety. Safe plants include curly kale, broccoli, mint, parsley and cabbage. Do not feed your rabbit grass clippings as this can make them extremely poorly.
Always keep a good eye on the weight of your rabbit as they can easily become obese and even more importantly become very thin too which could lead to poor health.
Rabbits need stimulation so provide a variety of chews and toys so it can play out it’s natural behaviour. Try putting in shredded news paper, paper bags, old books with the covers removed. Pieces of cardboard or cardboard tubes, plastic tunnels or fabric tunnels from your pet shop. There are so many things you can give them to stop them becoming bored. The more the Rabbit uses it’s teeth the better as rabbits teeth are always growing so they need to wear them down.
It is so so important to handle your rabbit from an early age. No small animal enjoys being handle as it’s not natural for them to be picked up and stroked but the more you do this the more they will tolerate it, it will form a bond and the rabbit will learn to trust you. Handling every day is a must for all small animals, pick them up gently but firmly, supporting their hind legs and body gives them security and are less likely to struggle.
Please take this as a basic guide to keeping a Pet Rabbit, there is always more to learn whilst you are a keeper.
Key facts to remember:-
Ensure your rabbit has enough exercise daily
Has fresh water at all times
A varied complete diet
Fresh warm bedding for the colder evenings and winter
Toys and chews to prevent their teeth from growing too long.
GENTLE but firm handling every day
For more information we recommend you look at the following websites.
This care sheet was compiled and written by Ron’s Pet Supplies. Tavistock. Devon.