sources, compiled by Janice Lim, HRSS Volunteer
Rabbits make wonderful pets. Each rabbit has a distinct
personality, just as different people or dogs or cats
do. Rabbits can be trained. They can learn commands,
games, and even to use a litter box.
Healthcare for rabbits are of paramount importance
as rabbits are fragile little creatures right at the
bottom of the food chain. One of the reasons why they
multiply so fast is to keep the species going even when
they get eaten, fall sick and die in large numbers.
Now that we have tamed them into house rabbits and made
them our pets, their health is our responsibility.
While rabbits in the wild usually have a lifespan of
2-5 years, house rabbits are able to live up to 10 years
with the correct medical care.
A rabbit's diet should consist of pellets, fresh hay,
water and fresh vegetables. Pellets should be high in
fiber (18% minimum) and should make up less of a rabbit's
diet as it grows older. Timothy pellets are a healthier
alternative to alfalfa pellets. Avoid feed which contain
dried bananas, nuts and seeds. These products are too
high in sugar and carbohydrates and can cause digestive
Timothy or other grass hay is ideal as they promote
optimum digestive health with its high fiber content.
Hay should be available to your rabbit 24 hours a day.
A "mix" of recommended hays provides the healthiest
diet for your bunny and can be purchased from many pet
shops in Singapore.
As another staple of the rabbit diet, the average 6-
pound rabbit should eat 2 or more cups of fresh vegetables
a day. Give a variety of vegetables. Look for dark leafy
vegetables and root vegetables. Stay away from beans
A rabbit should never be picked up by its ears.
Pick your rabbit up gently and support it fully so that
it feels secure. Slide one hand under the rabbit's front
paws in the direction of their hind end and place your
other hand on the rabbit's rump. Lift the rabbit up,
supporting the entire body with both hands. Hold it
close to you. A secure rabbit is less likely to bite,
scratch or kick. Be very gentle and careful. A rabbit's
skeleton is fragile. When it struggles, it may get injured.
In general, rabbits do not need to be bathed. Bathing
is a source of stress for many rabbits. Most rabbits
are fastidious groomers and will groom their coats to
a nice, clean finish. Consequently, rabbits can end
up swallowing a lot of hair and developing hairballs.
To help reduce the amount of hair your rabbit will ingest,
brush them at least once a week in the direction of
the hair coat. If your rabbit is shedding heavily, brush
it everyday. It may be easier during these periods to
gently pull out loose hair with your fingers and follow
up with a brushing. Use a bristle brush or pin brush
as a rabbit's skin is very delicate.
Trim your rabbit's nails when they get long. Be careful
not to cut the quick. (The quick is the end of the pink
part of the nail.) Doing so can cause pain to the rabbit
and the nail will bleed.
Spaying or neutering your rabbit is the best thing you
can do for it. Female rabbits will live longer because
you eliminate the possibility ovarian, uterine or mammary
tumors. Your rabbit will be less aggressive, have more
reliable litterbox habits and most importantly, it will
prevent any unwanted litters. Rabbit over-population
is a serious problem in Singapore. A rabbit your bring
into the world will take a home away from a rabbit at
a shelter. Thus, do not breed your rabbits. Adopt one
instead if you want another.
You may sterilize your rabbit when it reaches sexual
maturity between three and six months of age. Sterilization
of rabbits has become a safe procedure. Contact a rabbit
savvy vet. Do not allow a vet with little experience
with rabbits to spay or neuter your rabbit.
Rabbits can be litter trained as they deposit pills
and urine at only one or a few places. Place a litterbox
at where the rabbit chooses to go. Some rabbits learn
in two days and some may take months. Give them time.
Make the litterbox inviting by placing large handfuls
of fresh hay in it. It is important to use organic litters,
made from alfalfa, oat or paper. The House Rabbit Society
of Singapore (www.hrss.net/) recommends Carefresh, a
litter made from reclaimed wood pulp paste. Avoid litters
made from softwoods like pine or cedar shavings or chips.These
products are thought to cause liver damage in rabbits
who use them.
Rabbits are social animals. Your pet rabbit will appreciate
a companion especially if it is left alone for most
of the day. Unless they have been socialized at a young
age, putting two rabbits together may result in a fight.
This is when you step in. You need to bond them. Male-female
bonding is easiest. However, you need to make sure that
both are sterilized before you introduce them. Two males
will fight and two females may or may not get along.
Any form of bonding requires patience and time. Bonding
is a long process for many rabbits. If you are lucky,
they will fall in love at first sight but that is quite
rare. Read up on how you can bond them before you embark
on this challenging task. You may obtain more information
from the House Rabbit Society site at www.rabbit.org/
Thinking of getting a pet rabbit?
As pets, rabbits are great companions who want to have
fun. However, there are aspects of a rabbit's personality
which are not so appealing. For instance, rabbits love
to chew and have to be monitored and trained so that
they do not chew on carpets, furniture and electrical
wires. Some rabbits do not like to be cuddled; others
are easily frightened, and may bite or run as a result.
Before adding any pet to your household, be sure that
you and your family are ready for the financial and
time responsibilities. Rabbits should NEVER be obtained