ALL ABOUT RABBITS
A Little History
The House Rabbit
A Quick Glance -
Spaying & Neutering -
Life Expectancy -
Diet -
Handling -
Grooming -
Bonding -
Litter-Training -
Breeds -
Healthcare
Emergencies -  
Recommended Vets in Singapore -
Common Illnesses -
Preventive Measures -
Care for the Sick -
Air Travel with Rabbits
Pregnancy & Rabbits
General Misconceptions
Why Breeding is Bad
Confronting Animal Abuse
 

 



 
 

The House Rabbit
A Quick Glance

Various 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.

RABBIT CARE

Diet
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 problems.

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 and potatoes.

Handling
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.

Grooming
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 and Neutering
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.

RABBIT BEHAVIOUR

Litter Training
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.

Socialization / Bonding
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 on impulse.

 

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