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Important information for new rabbit owners

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Kammie, Aug 5, 2009.


  1. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Right here we have it the final complete (almost) list of everything a new rabbit owner will need to know.

    For all those new rabbit owners this is a bank of all the knowledge shared between us rabbit people on this forum, it is well worth a good read and will tell you all you need for a first time owner.

    Ideal hutch size:
    - Any rabbit hutch you get should be a MINIMUM of 6ft x 2ft x 2ft, heres a link to a thread detailing the ideal living space more including some pictures of what we on the forums use http://www.petforums.co.uk/rabbits/53724-rabbit-accommodation.html.

    Ideal run size:
    - Rabbits should have access to a run all day long not just in evenings, the size depends on the breed, however it is important to let your rabbits out of their run daily so they can have a proper run around and binky(jump mid air, this is very fun to watch). The majority of rabbit rescues will only re-home a small/medium rabbit to you if it has a run no smaller than 4ft x6ft which should be attached to the hutch and for 2 small/medium rabbits 6ft x 6ft. additionally the rabbit should be able to stand on its back legs, so a height of at least 2 foot is required depending on breed. By attaching the run to the hutch the rabbit is less likely to have territorial behaviour problems. A large rabbit such as French Lop, English Lop and Continental Giant will require a much larger run and it is because of this they can be more suited to house rabbits. Additionally it is important that even a small/medium house rabbit has access to a space at least the size of runs stated above, a kitchen or spare bedroom is ideal for the entire day not just in evening. This gives an idea of just how much space a bunny needs to really go all out and have fun YouTube - The REAL "Energizer Bunny".

    Best type of bedding for bun:
    - Saw dust and wood shavings from pine or cedar should NEVER be used, heres the reason Cedar and Pine Wood Shavings - Problems and Toxicity
    - Hay is probably by far the best bedding, its soft and comfortable plus they can snack on it. Meadow hay and Timothy hay are the best to get.
    - Newspaper can be ok as a kind of underlay to protect the bottom of the hutch from poo being stuck to it but needs something on top or bunny with have a very hard bed.
    - Straw is good for bedding too but can sometimes be a bit course and not as soft as hay. It also provides good insulation during the winter months.

    Caring for bun in winter:
    - Pets at home advice, Pets at Home – where pets come first *-* Rabbit Care in Winter
    - Rabbit Rehome advice, Rabbit Rehome - Adopt a unwanted bunny from a rescue centre
    - Please use both sites for advice as pets at home may be bias towards you buying their products for winter care, whereas Rabbit Rehome gives general advice.

    Feeding, fruit, veg, plants. Good and bad:
    - As a general rule for how much to feed bunny I was told by my vet the following:
    * If feeding twice a day on pellets the bunny should eat all pellets within 5 mins, any left after this time or if bunny walks away from it then you've fed too much,
    * If feeding twice a day the pellets should be gone within 2 mins, again any left after this time or ignored by bunny means you've given too much,
    * Veg should be given daily, enough should be given that its all eaten within 10 mins, any left after this time or bunny walks away from means too much was given,
    * Hay and water should be unlimited all day everyday,
    * To put bunny on the right amount of food gradually reduce the quantity until food is eaten in the times stated.

    - General advice on food: http://www.beechwoodvets.com/html/pdf/Factsheets/Otherpets/24_265656.pdf
    - Here is a link to a food list that has absolutely everything listed that is good, bad and just ok for the bun http://www.petforums.co.uk/rabbits/39071-food-list.html.
    - Heres a link to several articles all with valuable information on food Articles On Pet Rabbits Food And Diet

    Hay, whats the deal?
    Theres a lot of different types of hay out there so its best to look around and find out about the best ype to feed bunny. Theres no point buying the horrible pet shop stuff just because its easy to get. Hay is the most important part of a rabbits diet so they should be given the best of the best.
    Meadow hay and bales you can buy cheaply from farms are good for bedding but not the best quality for feeding. Timothy hay is one of the best as a feed and Excel do a forage that has timothy hay mixed with dandilion and marigold. If possible have a sniff of the hay before buying, a good quality hay will smell sweet and fresh whereas a bad hay will smell damp, mouldy or just old and dry. Make sure to get the dust extracted hay where the dust is removed from the hay so the bunnies don't get breathing problems from the dust. Have a look at these sites for an idea on hay, Hay - Dust Free Hay https://www.thehayexperts.co.uk/Hays,+Grasses+%2526+Herbs.4/Select+by+Hay+Type.130/

    Vaccinations needed:
    (Taken from the RSPCA website) Rabbits need vaccinations to prevent/protect against myxomatosis and Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD) which cause intense suffering to rabbits.

    We strongly recommend vaccinating all rabbits.

    • Single vaccines against myxomatosis and RHD cannot be given simultaneously. Myxomatosis boosters are needed every six months. Myxomatosis vaccinations from six weeks. RHD vaccinations at eight weeks.
    • Combined vaccines offer annual protection against both diseases. Rabbits can be vaccinated from five weeks.
    • Get veterinary advice about the most suitable vaccination course and best ages to vaccinate.

    Prevent and Protect

    * Give regular boosters throughout life, see your vet.

    * Controlling insects may reduce infection risk. Deter flies/mosquitoes e.g. insect-proof screens. Ensure your home and all pets are treated for fleas as advised by your vet. Fleas from cats infect rabbits.

    * Regularly clean/disinfect rabbits’ enclosure/areas rabbit’s access, using rabbit-safe disinfectant. Change bedding/litter regularly. Never use housing/bedding from rabbits infected/suspected to have/have had RHD/myxomatosis.

    * Prevent contact with wild/affected domestic rabbits or access to areas where they’ve been.

    Explaining Myxomatosis http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/content/info-sheets/understanding_myxo_feb06.htm

    Explaining VHD http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/content/info-sheets/VHD_UK.htm

    Why to neuter:
    - Males - Stops them spraying, humping, hormonal behaviour.
    - Female - stops pseudo (false) pregnancies. 80% of unspayed females over the age of 3 get uterine cancer.

    Common health problems to look out for: Heres a few links to common illnesses that rabbits may get, some more preventable than others so well worth reading all these links:
    - http://www.petforums.co.uk/rabbits/39198-sunffles-pasteurella.html,
    - http://www.petforums.co.uk/rabbits/39196-fkystrike.html,
    - http://www.petforums.co.uk/rabbits/39094-gi-stasis.html,
    - E.cuniculi info: Untitled Page,
    - All common health problems listed with short summary about each: Rabbits - health problems and illnesses.

    Dental Problems: Rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout their life, at a rate of 2-3mm per week. Rabbits require a high fibre diet to ensure the teeth are evenly worn and to prevent overgrowth. If the teeth are not worn down, they grow incorrectly leading to discomfort, abscesses, anorexia, etc. Indication of dental problems may be saliva around the mouth, on the chest or front paws, an inability to eat or teeth grinding.

    Srhdufe found the info on here, well worth a good look.. Russel's Guide to Rabbits @ Russel's Guide to Rabbits @ www.petcentreonline.co.uk
    How to handle your rabbit:
    - As I call it, cup and bum! One hand supporting chest, behind front legs, the other, supporting bum.

    Indoor vs outdoor:
    - Indoors- More secure against predators, more one to one contact.
    - Outside- more natural, fresher air and freedom to run in a natural environment.
    - Indoor setups- minimum of 6ft of space x 4ft. A link on everything you need to know about bunny-proofing your house before letting them loose FAQ: Rabbit Proofing.

    One bun or two:
    - If one rabbit is kept on its own it will need considerably more time spent with it than if you have a pair of rabbits, as you are its only playmate. A bonded pair of rabbits is a really lovely sight and the rabbits have company all the time, making them an all round happier bunny. Take into consideration that they will need much larger accommodation, and all bills will effectively double with a pair.

    Best bonded combination (MM/FF/MF):
    - While it is possible to keep two males or two females together, it is generally much more difficult than a mixed sex pair.
    - Same Sex - Two litter mates tend to get on better than introducing the same sex at a later date, and as always it all depends on the temperament of the rabbit. Having both of the rabbits neutered will help to keep them bonded and/or bond them.
    - Mixed Sex - At least the male will have to be neutered in order to stop unwanted pregnancies, and baby buns. It is also often easier, as with same sex pairs, to have both of the rabbits "done" as this makes them less hormonal, so they should get on better plus theres the risk of uterine cancer in females so as said above it is always recommended that females be spayed.
    - It is also possible to bond more than two rabbits but it can be considerably harder than with two. Two females and a male is a popular mix, and seem to work well in most cases. Bear in mind that the more rabbits that are bonded together, the bigger the accommodation needs to be!!!

    Why not a guinea pig?
    - A lot of pet shops will tell you its fine to keep rabbits with guinea pigs for company. This is actually far from the truth rabbits should NEVER be kept with guinea pigs, and heres why:

    - Rabbits and guinea pigs eat different types of food even though it looks the same.
    - Along with the reason above guinea pigs need a certain amount of vitamin C which rabbits don't therefore the food has different ingredients aimed at their needs.
    - Guinea pigs are a lot smaller than most rabbits and could be seriously be injured by the rabbit.
    - The best company for a rabbit is another rabbit, nothing elsse will even come close. Rabbits do like human company and can even like a friend guinea pig but at the end of the day a rabbit will prefer company of another rabbit
    - Rabbits can harbour Bordetella, harmless to the rabbit, but pathogenic for the guinea pig

    Bunny playtime:
    - Bunnies are lively, active pets and enjoy having toys to play with. They like things they can pick up in their mouths and throw. You can buy special balls with treats hidden in for them to get out. An inexpensive toy for bunnies is cardboard. Mine love boxes. They can hide in them, climb on them and if all else fails, chew them. They are easily renewed when they get tatty. Many rabbits also like to dig - fulfilling their natural instinct to burrow. Providing a sandpit filled with earth gives bunnies many happy hours digging - they often don't seem to realise they aren't getting anywhere! Also hard baby rattles can be bought at a charity shop or boot sale for approx 10p rabbits love these!
    - Little linky of toys you can make yourself at home: Rabbit Rehome - Make Your Own Rabbit Toys

    What does it mean when my rabbit...?:
    -A rabbits body language and some sounds: Interpreting Body Language and Behavior

    When to take bunny to the vet?
    - First of all the main reason to take bunny to the vet ALL rabbits need vaccines whether they live in the house with you or outside in a hutch/shed. Despite what many vets say about only needing to vaccinate against Myxi once a year (the ones that say this aren't good rabbit vets so find a new one if you hear it), they should actually be done religiously every 6 months to keep the immune system strong against it. VHD also needs to be kept up to date, now this one is actually once a year so don't be confused between the two. The vet should give you a vaccine card as you would get for a cat or dog as a record of when they have been vaccinated, keep it somewhere easy to find to remind yourself when they are due.

    - So bunny vaccines are all up to date but suddenly bunny stops eating/poos don't look normal (either runny, very small strung together or no poos at all) then its time for a trip to the vets ASAP, when a rabbit stops eating or the poos change its an emergency. A rabbit cannot go 48 hours without eating or it is likely to die because of the way the guts work, a bit like a conveyer belt (best way I can think to put it) they need to have food going through them constantly. If for any reason the rabbit stops eating the conveyer belt stops and if food isn't eaten in time the guts will shut down and rabbit will go into GI Stasis and if this happens the guts may never start working again and rabbit will die.

    - A tell-tale sign of bunny feeling poorly and needing to see a vet is when they sit huddled up with their bum in a corner or against a wall, usually grinding their teeth as well. This is one of the biggest signs of pain a rabbit shows and its important if you see this to make that vet appointment to see whats wrong with bunny. Remember rabbits are prey animals by nature so if you start seeing bunny behave unusually or look poorly/in pain it means bunny has already been suffering for a while and now the pain has become too much for buuny to ignore.

    - Now the worst thing you will ever hear is a bunny scream, they will do this when in extreme pain or are terrified for their life. If you ever hear your bunny scream (it can't be mistaken for any other noise, you will know it if you hear it, which I hope no one here has to) take them to the vats asap, don't even bother making an appointment just get bunny in the carry box and go.

    - So to recap: if bunny is acting strangely in anyway, whether not eating, pooing, generally not looking their normal selves you need to make that all important vet trip.

    Rabbit savvy vets:
    - A good site to look at is Finding a UK rabbit vet

    Insurance, is it worth it?
    - Although some people swear by insurance it may not always be the best way to go. There are only two insurance companies that cover rabbits (that I know of) and both don't cover for any teeth problems which is in my experience a main problem with rabbits. I know of some people including myself who put a bit of money aside each month in a separate account to save for any vet bills rather than putting it all to insurance when they may not cover for something you may need treatment for.
    - For those who would like to look into insurance for your bun these are the two companies that will cover them:
    - Rabbit insurance from Petplan - Pet insurance specialists
    - Rabbit Insurance | Lifetime Pet Insurance | Payment Protection

    Other good bits of info:
    -http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/content/leaflet_pdfs/animal_welfare_bill_lft.pdf
    -britishbunnies.co.uk - Nice little site I found advertised on facebook, has lots of info that would be good for any new owner. It even gives a list of prices of various things like food and hay.


    This is still a work in progress and I will add more as people share more and more information and advice. Please PM me or post here anything you'd like to add. Please let me know about any broken links you find as well as some are external and may have been discontinued.

    Many thanks to Kellyrich, Crofty, Hazyreality, Emzybabe, VampiricLust, Frags, Umber and Srhdufe for all their information given. Hoping I haven't missed any names but yell at me if I have and I'll add you to the list of fame.
     
    #1 Kammie, Aug 5, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
    Milka, Nye, Bubbabunny and 9 others like this.
  2. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

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    Great stuff.

    I think though this should be aimed at ALL rabbit owners, not just newbies.

    Many people still keep their bunnies in an inappropriate manner.
     
    Leontiny and Bubbabunny like this.
  3. kellyrich

    kellyrich PetForums VIP

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    Well done Kammie thats really good! You deserve a green blobby!! :D

    But i cant see the links for the health probs!
     
    Bubbabunny likes this.
  4. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Thanks for pointing that out Kelly, fixed now.
     
  5. frags

    frags PetForums VIP

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    well done kammie you have done an excellent job!!
     
  6. umber

    umber PetForums VIP

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    Good Stuff! How about mentioning that GP and Rabbits should not be housed together as that seems to be a common misconception or should that be somewhere else lol!
     
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  7. flufffluff39

    flufffluff39 PetForums VIP

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    Do'nt keep rabbits with guinea pigs. The rabbits will kill them!
     
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  8. hazyreality

    hazyreality PetForums VIP

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    Thanks for doing this Kammie (no R this time!) you have done a fine job!
    Thanks for using my bit :p

    *Heidi*
     
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  9. crofty

    crofty PetForums VIP

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    Oh well thought of Umber!!

    Brilliant stickie :D
     
  10. frags

    frags PetForums VIP

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    RABBITS LOVE TO PLAY

    Bunnies are lively, active pets and enjoy having toys to play with. They like things they can pick up in their mouths and throw. You can buy special balls with treats hidden in for them to get out. An inexpensive toy for bunnies is cardboard. Mine love boxes. They can hide in them, climb on them and if all else fails, chew them. They are easily renewed when they get tatty.

    Many rabbits also like to dig - fulfilling their natural instinct to burrow. Providing a sandpit filled with earth gives bunnies many happy hours digging - they often don't seem to realise they aren't getting anywhere!

    also hard baby rattles can be bought at a charity shop or boot sale for approx 10p rabbits love these!
     
    Leontiny likes this.
  11. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Added your bit Frags. Also added a bit from a previous thread I made about guinea pigs and buns.
     
  12. crofty

    crofty PetForums VIP

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  13. emzybabe

    emzybabe PetForums VIP

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    great work guys :)
     
  14. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Updated to make it easier to read (hopefully) and added a few more links.
     
  15. srhdufe

    srhdufe PetForums VIP

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    What about putting details on the best bedding for rabbits??
     
  16. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Ooh never thought of that one will sort that out asap.

    edit: Have added the bedding bit but have probably missed some so if you can think of more types of bedding good or bad then let me know.
     
    #16 Kammie, Aug 27, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  17. emzybabe

    emzybabe PetForums VIP

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    I would maybe ad that straw bedding is the best insulator for the colder months
     
  18. srhdufe

    srhdufe PetForums VIP

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    What about...
    What to do with the hutch in winter...
    I mean, move it to somewhere warmer if possible, buy a cover for it, extra bedding etc....? :)
    Not all people do this :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Kammie

    Kammie PetForums VIP

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    Updated with winter care and bit about straw in winter. Keep the info coming.
     
  20. srhdufe

    srhdufe PetForums VIP

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    Bubbabunny likes this.
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