As we begin to welcome the warmer weather, we have enjoyed seeing our bunnies hop by for a spring health check. We asked one of our qualified nurses Bethany Mendoza for her top tips on looking after your bunny this spring!
“From feeding to fly strike, here are my top tips on providing the best care for your bunny.
Rabbit’s can make wonderful and rewarding pets, and are often chosen as a first pet due to their temperament. However, it is important to understand that bunnies require a lot of care and attention to ensure they live a fulfilled, happy and healthy life.
Top tips for choosing your rabbit
Each breed of rabbit brings it’s own charms, characteristics and individual requirements. If you are thinking of choosing a rabbit remember to think about:
- The size your bunny will grow to
- The care your bunny’s coat may need
- Any special healthcare requirements
If you are choosing your bunny from a reputable rescue, talk to the people involved in their care as they will know each bunnies characteristics.
Top tips for housing your rabbit
- Stand on their hindlegs without their ears touching the roof
- Lay out fully stretched in any direction without being cramped
- Have space to hop several places at a time without being restricted
- Have fun digging somewhere safe
- Go to the toilet in an area away from their food
- Go to the toile in an area away from their food
- Have a hiding place in case they ever feel threatened, whether they are indoors or outdoors
- Have space to exercise and forage all times of day and night (bunnies are most active at dawn and dusk)
- Move to a shaded, cooler area if needed
Your bunnies housing should also be
- Secure at every point to prevent escape, and if they are outside stop predators such as cats, dogs, birds of prey or foxes gaining access
- Safe, dry, warm and free from draughts at all times
Top tips for house rabbits
It is increasingly popular to keep rabbits indoors to allow them more room to roam. Here are my top tips for house bunnies
- Ensure all wires and electrical cables are kept out of reach
- Rabbits can be trained to use litter trays and follow voice commands
- Ensure your rabbit has hides to retreat from threats in the house, such as loud noises or other pets
- Ensure your rabbit has a warm and cool area to retreat to with fluctuating temperatures
Top tips for feeding your rabbit
- Rabbits teeth continually grow, so give them lots of roughage to wear them down such as hay and grass. This should make up around 80% of their diet. It’s low in nutritional value so should encourage your rabbit to eat continuously to help keep their teeth worn down to a healthy length
- Complete nuggest can be used to supplement your rabbits diet, but take care to follow feeding guidelines as feeding too much can cause obesity and poor dental health
- Muesli diets are not recommended, they can cause selective eating where your rabbit picks out the bits they find most tasty leaving the rest.; they may not get all the nutrition they need as a result
- You can treat your bunny with small amounts of veggies, but take care with root vegetables such as carrots as they can be high in sugar causing your rabbit to put too much weight on
- ALWAYS ENSURE FRESH WATER IS AVAILABLE – watch in the winter it’s protected from becoming frozen, or too warm in summer, so changing two or three times a day is recommended in extremes of temperatures
Top bunny healthcare tips
- Parasite control is recommended to protect you bunny from fleas, lice, mites and worms. Get in touch and talk to our nurses for more details about how you can protect your bunny from nasty bugs
- Vaccination against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is strongly recommended to prevent your rabbit contracting either of these devastating illnesses
- Nail clipping is sometimes needed to prevent rabbits nails becoming ingrown or uncomfortable when they grow to long
- Dental procedures are sometimes required if your bunny’s teeth become too long. As mentioned earlier their teeth continuously grow and this can sometimes lead to other health problems if untreated. You can read about overgrown teeth in rabbits here
- Neutering is something to consider to help keep them healthy now, and as they age. You can read more about neutering your bunny here, or speak to a member of the nursing team on 0113 267 8419 or 01274 610627 for more information
Regular health checks with your vet or nurse are the best way to ensure your bunny is in good health all year round. We love seeing bunnies and have developed a health plan combining our recommended healthcare regimes to make it easy to care for your rabbit. You can find the plan here and talk to our team about how to get started on 0113 267 8419 or 01274 610627.
- As summer approaches, you may hear about ‘fly strike’ and how it can be devastating to your rabbits health. It occurs commonly in warmer weather when flies are attracted to animal faeces or urine around a rabbits bottom. The warmth makes it ideal for flies to lay eggs, and when they hatch you see maggots. Awful for your bunny, so here are my top tips for preventing spotting fly strike:
- If your bunny has diarrhoea, loose stools, urinary problems or is becoming elderly, less mobile and unable to groom themselves, clean and groom their coat regularly taking care to groom their back end regularly to prevent flies becoming attracted to them
- All bunnies should be checked morning and night, or more often if possible, for any signs of itching, redness or sores around their bottom. Any signs require urgent medical attention
- Keep all accommodation clean, removing faeces and urine at least once, preferably twice daily
I hope that you enjoy looking after your bunny and that my tips have been helpful. If you have any questions I work from the Cookridge branch and you can contact me on 0113 267 8419, or you can speak to any of our nursing team who will be happy to answer any questions on all aspects of bunny care this spring with our free nurse health checks and half price nail clipping throughout April and May.
Beth Mendoza RVN