How to Look After a Rabbit
Rabbits are popular pets, especially for families with small children, as they can usually be relied on to be docile and safe to be around – although you should never leave rabbit care completely in the hands of a young child. Rabbits may be docile, but they still have complex needs that you as an adult should be taking responsibility for.
This month, the team at Green Lane Farm Boarding Kennels is taking a close look at some of those needs with our guide on how to take care of a rabbit.
Where should I keep my rabbit?
If your rabbit is to be kept indoors, almost anywhere should be okay, but your rabbit will be happier if it’s somewhere you and your family spend time, as they do like the company. Make sure that it’s well ventilated but out of any draughts.
If you’re keeping your rabbit outside, it needs to be kept dry, out of draughts and away from direct sunlight (or at least have a good part of its living area constantly in the shade). It also needs to feel safe, so somewhere to hide in case a local cat shows its face is a good idea.
How much space does my rabbit need?
Like most animals, a rabbit that doesn’t have enough room will get unhappy and stressed. When you’re keeping it in a hutch, it should have room to stretch, hop about and stand on its hind legs. The minimum size hutch you should be looking at is 6′ long x 2′ wide x 2′ high.
What should I feed my rabbit?
This is the food your rabbit should be getting every day:
- Good-quality hay in a bundle about the same size as your rabbit
- Ideally, access to fresh, growing grass
- A handful of washed leafy green vegetables, weeds and herbs – things like spinach, kale, parsley and mint are all good examples
- Pellets – 25g for each kilo of your rabbit’s weight is about right. So, for a 2kg rabbit, you should give them 50g of pellets
- Part of their other food could be replaced by small amounts of treats such as apple or carrot
Rabbits also need constant access to fresh, clean water, preferably from a drip-free bottle or a ceramic bowl.
What shouldn’t I feed my rabbit?
- Iceberg lettuce
- Lawnmower clippings
- Bread and pasta
The above isn’t an exhaustive list – the simple rule to follow is that if you’re not 100% sure, don’t give it to your rabbit!
How much exercise does a rabbit need?
Rabbits need to stay active, so you should schedule in time for them to stretch their legs. If your rabbit is going to be exercising outside, keep an eye on them in case a predator (such as a cat) shows up and they need somewhere safe. If your rabbit is let out of its hutch in the home, make sure they can’t get at any electric wires or cables, because given half the chance they may well try to chew their way through them.
What health care does a rabbit need?
Rabbits need to be vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD). Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour or appearance that might indicate illness – things to look out for include a discharge coming from the nose or eyes, scaly patches inside the ears, swellings or diarrhoea. Dental problems are also quite common, so check your rabbit’s teeth – this is the place to start should your rabbit start to lose weight suddenly.
Other things to think about
- Providing suitable bedding to keep your rabbit warm at night
- Providing a toilet area separate from where your rabbit sleeps
- Cleaning the hutch on a regular basis, especially their sleeping and toilet areas
- Spending time every day with your rabbit – they do enjoy the company
We hope you’ve found these rabbit care tips helpful. Don’t forget that if you’re going on holiday, a rabbit needs looking after while you’re away as much as a cat or dog would. Here at Green Lane Farm Boarding Kennels, we offer small pet care for everything from rabbits and guinea pigs to tortoises and even chickens and ducks.
We’re easily accessible from the areas around Chessington and Kingston in Surrey. To find out more about us, or if you just want to know more about how to look after your rabbit, get in touch with us today.