They are inquisitive animals that will become very tame if handled correctly. They are also popular as house pets because they can be easily trained to use a litter tray. A healthy rabbit kept in clean conditions will have an average life span of 6-8 years. The most common breeds kept as pets are: Dwarf Lop, Dutch and Netherland dwarf.

Caring for your rabbit

Handling

Your new rabbit might be very nervous when you first get him home. This is due to the change of environment and the stress of travelling. Allow your new rabbit time to settle into his new home before trying to handle him. Gently introduce your hand into the hutch and let your rabbit come to you. When you pick up your rabbit, support his bottom and hold him firmly, but not too tightly so he feels secure. If you handle him gently and with kindness he will soon learn to trust you and start to become really friendly.

Housing

The housing should be as large as possible. Just for Pets have a huge range of hutches and we would recommend that you speak to a member of our staff who will be happy to choose the best one for you and your new pet. It should have two sections, one for the day and one to snuggle down in at night. A secure hutch is the ideal housing if your rabbit is to live outside, this will help to keep him safe from predators. It should be placed out of draughts and direct sunlight and raised off the floor to prevent damp problems. The base of the hutch should be covered with a layer of wood shavings to absorb all waste and plenty of good quality hay should be provided for sleeping and eating. The hutch should be cleaned daily, and should be disinfected at least once a week with a suitable animal disinfectant. It is very important that you purchase a run also, to provide your new pet with plenty of exercise and fresh air. Always ensure though that part of the run is covered to protect from the sun.

Feeding

Always try to buy the food that your rabbit is used to. Rabbits have sensitive digestions and changing the food could lead to illness and can in some cases be fatal. If you have to change the food, this must be done gradually, begin by adding a small amount of the new food into his bowl with his usual food. Slowly increase the amount of the new food whilst decreasing the old food. This should be done over the course of a week. Any new addition to the diet should be introduced in the same way

We recommend that any rabbit under the age of 6 months is not given green foods such as cabbage or broccoli or left in a run where they have access to grass for extended periods of time. This is because many young rabbits are not used to these foods and can suffer from extreme diarrhoea or even death if not introduced to them gradually. Lettuce should not be fed to rabbits.Treats can be given sparingly.
Food and water must be changed daily and fresh given when needed.
Never use hay, straw, shavings or food which could have been contaminated by the urine or droppings of mice or rats, as these rodents carry various diseases, which can be fatal to rabbits, if contaminated material is ingested.

Exercise

Rabbits need plenty of exercise, so it is important to provide a run that will allow plenty of room for your pet to move around in.
Fill the run with playthings such as cardboard boxes, flowerpots and logs from natural wood such as apple to help keep your rabbit entertained.
Secure the run and make sure it is out of direct sunlight. Fresh water should be available when your rabbit is in his run.

Companionship

Littermates will usually live together when young, however they will often fight when they reach maturity. Males are more likely to fight but there is no guarantee that two females will stay living happily together either. A male and female will live together, however one MUST be neutered or they will breed.
Health
All our animals at Just for Pets are given a health check before being put on sale. Providing that your animal is properly fed and his hutch and accessories are kept clean, your pet should remain healthy for many years to come.We strongly recommend that you consult your vet on vaccinating your rabbit against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease.

 

Common illnessess

Dental problems

Your rabbit’s teeth will continue to grow throughout their life. It is important to feed a high fibre food that will help to wear the teeth down, if this is not done, the teeth will just keep growing and soon your rabbit will be unable to eat and will experience considerable pain. Indications of overgrown or incorrectly growing teeth are: saliva around the mouth or chest, teeth grinding or weight loss through the inability to eat.

Digestive upset

Rabbits have quite sensitive digestions – therefore if your rabbit becomes bloated or develops diarrhoea, they must be treated quickly. Do not allow your rabbit to become dehydrated. Seek veterinary advice if you are unsure.

Fly strike

Fly strike is a horrible condition that can affect rabbits during the summer months.
Flies lay their eggs around the rabbit’s rear end. These then hatch into maggots, which feed on and burrow into the rabbits flesh. It is often fatal and as you can imagine extremely distressing for the rabbit.Prevention is better than cure and following this simple 3-step guide can help to protect your rabbit.

Step 1: Check your rabbit each day to ensure that the fur is clean and dry. Rabbits with dirty bottoms or a tendency to diarrhoea are more at risk. Ensure that your rabbits diet is balanced with plenty of good quality hay. Avoid leafy green or watery vegetables, as these can cause diarrhoea.
If your rabbit has a dirty bottom, clean him up using warm water and a gentle bunny shampoo making sure that you rinse all the soap out fully.
Don’t let him get chilled whilst his fur is drying. If you see any signs of maggots remove them using soap and warm water. Dry the fur and contact your vet immediately.

Step 2: Change soiled bedding daily. Any soiled or damp bedding must be changed daily. Remove any left over foods especially fruit or vegetables as these could attract flies. Do not allow him to become too hot or cold.

Step 3:Thoroughly clean and disinfect the hutch at least once a week. Remove all bedding and clean and disinfect the hutch using a special animal disinfectant. Dry thoroughly before refilling with fresh hay and shavings. Wash all bowls, bottles and toys in warm water and animal disinfectant and allow to dry.

VacciPet Clinics
VacciPet Clinics are now open in selected Just for Pet Stores

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