Rabbits can be very rewarding pets but like most things you only get back what you put in. The more time you spend handling and socialising your rabbit from an early age the more fun you will have with your rabbit.
Feeding is one of the most important areas that some of us fall down on. Keep it simple in the summer: base your rabbit's diet around grass. Not surprisingly they do very well with this, as this is what they are designed to eat. In the winter base the diet around hay. Use proprietary diets such as the excel pellets as an add on to the diet and try and give them as much fresh vegetables as possible from as early an age as possible. Obviously keep a constant supply of fresh water available.
Feeding is key to so many problems we see with rabbits. Feed your rabbit well and you are likely to have very few problems.
Protecting your Bunny
Rabbits run the risk of contracting one or two possible fatal infectious diseases: myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD). The good news is you can protect your rabbit from both of these through vaccination.
The myxomatosis and VHD vaccines are now available as a combined vaccine. The main advantage of this vaccine is it is a single injection to cover both diseases and can be given at 5 weeks old and onward.
Your baby rabbit can be vaccinated against myxomatosis and VHD from 5 weeks of age. Your adult rabbit can start its primary vaccination at any stage. Generally it takes about 2 weeks for the immunity to develop and your rabbit to be protected.
Immunity to these diseases does not last indefinitely and will gradually fall leaving your rabbit at risk. After the primary vaccination, your rabbit will then need booster vaccinations every year. If you are in a high risk area, the vet may recommend to boost the immunity to myxomatosis every 6 month.
Spaying is important for your female rabbit because it reduces the risk of her developing cancer of the womb. Up to 80% of un-neutered female rabbits can develop cancer of the uterus. It also allows her to live with another rabbit (e.g. a neutered male) without having unwanted young. This is important because rabbits need company from other rabbits.
Castration allows your male rabbit to live with another rabbit (e.g. a neutered female) without having unwanted young. It can also reduce behaviour that is linked to hormones, such as urine spraying and aggression, but you should get advice from your vet about any problems you are having with your rabbit’s behaviour.
We recommend neutering from 5 months of age.
Rabbits can be affected by several different parasites which can make them poorly. Heavy worm infestations can cause sickness, diarrhoea, weight loss and weaken your rabbit's immune system.
Therefore it is important to treat your rabbit to get rid of any worms it may have picked up on a regular basis. The vet can recommend a specific worming programme based on your rabbit's lifestyle.
What is it?
Flystrike is an unpleasant and distressing condition, not just for your rabbit but for you as well. Unfortunately it is quite common, but can very easily be prevented. It occurs mainly in the spring and summer months when flies are more active and looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. Your rabbit and its cage is an ideal area. The fly eggs hatch into maggots which then feed on the rabbit, burrowing into the flesh. The rabbit is quite literally eaten alive. Some rabbits can be successfully treated, but Flysrike is often fatal.
Examine your rabbit every day. Always make sure your rabbit is clean. A rabbit with diarrhoea or a dirty bottom is at far more risk, as the smell will attract the flies.
Make sure your rabbit has a complete balanced diet as this will help prevent diarrhoea. Avoid overfeeding greens, fresh grass and vegetables as these can worsen diarrhoea. Your rabbit's diet should mainly consist of hay and/or pelleted dry food.
Clean out any dirty bedding daily as clean bedding is less likely to attract flies. At least once a week, completely empty everything from the hutch and disinfect with a purpose-made solution suitable for the use with small animals.
Should you see any signs of maggots remove them with warm soapy water, thoroughly dry the affected area and consult the vet immediately.
By spending a little time doing these few things you can prevent your rabbit suffering from a horrible disease.
If you have any questions relating to anything above or have any questions about your rabbit in general please contact us at the surgery.