Keeping a rabbit as an indoor pet has increasingly become popular nowadays. Who doesn’t want a pet that literally defines cuteness? Well, aside from its looks, owning one can benefit your health. If you have a rabbit in your family, then keep in mind that like any other animals, they also require special attention and care to stay healthy and happy.
Here are some tips to become the best rabbit “parent” you can be:
Know Their Nature
Rabbits are naturally sociable animals, and so they like companionship. They love to live with like-minded groups or at least with one “friend.” Therefore, when choosing among the several breeds out there, try to consider adopting a pair.
Before, adopting a rabbit or a guinea pig was very common. In fact, it is normal to see them placed in one cage at your local pet stores. However, this is no longer a good idea as rabbits tend to harm guinea pigs because, as much as they are similar, they are still two different species. If you are adopting a pair of rabbit, this brings us to the next tip.
Neuter or Spay Your Rabbit
When you buy a pair of male and female rabbits that are not neutered, it is expected that they’ll breed, while same sexes that are not neutered might end up fighting. Basically, spaying will reduce the chances of uterine cancer in female rabbits by 80%. This will also reduce aggressive and territorial behaviors.
Male neutering, on the other hand, eliminates sexual frustrations that are usually relieved by putting on stuffed toys and spraying of urine. In addition, neutering doesn’t just make their urine become less foul-smelling, it will also reduce their aggressive behavior.
Feed with Proper Diet
Rabbits have evolved a grass diet in which their primary diet consists mainly of grass and hay. These plants are high in fiber and are good for their sensitive digestive tract. But when feeding these to them, make sure they eat approximately as much hay as their body volume. Also, when feeding them hay, be sure that it is sufficient for their body size.
If hay and grass aren’t available, you can provide them with a variety of fresh and clean fruits and vegetables, such as apple, berries, lettuces, collards and other green leafy veggies. Although you have seen carrots fed to rabbits on TV, particularly from Bugs Bunny, this isn’t actually recommended as this vegetable has high starch and sugar content. Nevertheless, it can be given as an occasional treat.
Provide a Good Home
Your rabbits should be able to move around their well-built hutch. The required minimum size of a hutch should be 4-6 feet long, and 2 feet wide and deep. However, it is best to have a specially constructed rabbit run, so that they can hop around whenever they want.
As for their beddings, several good pet stores have clean straw. Before you put them, make sure their hutch it is cleaned and replaced if soiled, because this may invite flies, which love to lay their eggs on soiled hay. If not given special attention, maggots may burrow in your rabbit’s fur and cause fatal health complications.
To avoid the worst things to happen, as early as possible, you can litter-train your pet rabbits. If you think this isn’t possible, place a litter tray in the area they commonly use as a toilet.
Ensure Rabbit Care and Parasite Control
Always be on the lookout for troublesome signs that your rabbit may be showing because this may imply an underlying health problem, such as changes in appearance and behavior. Check for swellings, scaly patches inside the ears, diarrhea and discharges from the eyes, nose and ears. Though dental problems are common, checking the oral cavity is still advised.
They should also receive proper vaccination and deworming. Hence, it is important to have all contact details of a veterinarian so that you can ask for instructions during emergency situations. It should also be your responsibility to research and know everything about rabbit care.
Additionally, long-furred rabbits should receive daily grooming, while your short-furred bunnies should be groomed at least once a week. Grooming will not only keep them looking and smelling good, but will also promote bonding with your beloved pets.
Keep Them Safe
If your rabbits spend lots of time outdoors, make sure they are within a safe area away from predators like dogs and other wild animals, including foxes and larger birds. As for rabbits that are kept indoors, ensure that your house is kept rabbit-proof. Keep cleaning products and electrical cords away from their reach, and take down items that may trip or fall off. Also, take extra precautions during holidays and special occasions especially if you expect visitors.
Keep Them Happy
A healthy rabbit is a happy rabbit. Apart from the nutrition, grooming and the like, there are other things you can do to add to their happiness. One way is to keep them busy or entertained. Provide items that are safe to chew on – you may find an edible wooden chew from your local pet store, or simply use an apple wood or willow. Also, let them roam in your yard to play and exercise. But, again, ensure safety first.
Finally, keep in mind that rabbits also seek for some attention. After all, they are part of your family, so do not be scared to show them your affection. Checking on them at least one or twice a day, as well as petting or rubbing their heads are a good way to show them that you do care. Keep all these simple tips in mind, and you can guarantee a healthy and happy life for your furry family.