Keeping a Pet Rabbit

Rabbits make friendly, intelligent and quiet house pets that can easily be trained to use a litter tray.

They are very social animals that need either another rabbit or a human companion to interact with.

Donʼt assume that they are an ideal pet for very young children as the delicate skeleton of eg. a dwarf rabbit can easily be injured if they are handled roughly.

For older children and adults they make great pets, can be kept indoors or outdoors and can live up to ten years.

There are more than fifty breeds of rabbits, but most pet rabbits are crossbreeds.

As with guinea pigs, proper husbandry and nutrition are essential for a happy and healthy pet.

Rabbits are social herbivores that like to burrow. They are prey animals and fear elicits either complete immobility or a flight response.

The best option is to place two rabbits of different gender together (NEUTERED!) or two does (females) from the same family.

Unrelated females can fight, as can intact bucks ( males).

Donʼt keep rabbits with guinea pigs, as bullying of both species can occur.

Rabbits can also harbour a bacterium ( Bordetella ) which is pathogenic to guinea pigs. Introducing a new rabbit goes best if you put an adult rabbit with another adult rabbit or a youngster with another youngster. Rabbits recognise each other by their unique scent profile.

Rabbits can be housed indoors or outdoors. An indoor cage should be large enough for a

rabbit to stretch out fully and stand upright on its hindlimbs.

Make sure the rabbit gets daily exercise, although not in a room where the rabbit can chew on wires!”

Outdoor housing is a better option as rabbits can tolerate cold better than heat. Raise the hutch up off the ground and provide a place to retreat to in the hutch in case they get frightened.

Rabbits are strict herbivores and their digestive system is adapted to digest a high fibre diet. Pet rabbits eat caecotrophs ( so if you see them eating their own poo there is a valid reason for this!) Caecotrophs are important for efficient digestion of B vitamins, protein and volatile acids.

Rabbits love sweet things and willl select the things they like eating most from their diet. This selective feeding can be a problem so a balanced kibble feed  is a good idea. Hay and/or grass must always be provided for extra chewing activity.