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Consider a Rabbit for a pet

Date Posted: 01 June 2016

2016 marks the 10th Anniversary of Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) this year it runs from the 18-26th June, over the past 10 years it has become the biggest and best campaign about rabbit care and welfare in the UK and is a very important week for rabbits, during June thousands of vets and practices in the UK offer free health clinics for rabbits and their owners.

The UK has an estimated 1.3 million pet rabbits, there are many different species of rabbit of different sizes, colours and personalities if you are thinking of getting a rabbit the RSPCA have hundreds that are looking for new homes and will be able to advise you which are the most suitable for you.

Getting a rabbit is a big commitment, they have specific needs to keep them healthy and happy, rabbits can live 8-12 years or longer.

Accommodation / Exercise

Rabbits need a safe and secure shelter or hutch which is dry and protected from the rain with a sleeping area containing bedding materials such as dust-free hay and shredded paper and a separate area where they can go to the toilet.

Rabbits are active and inquisitive animals who need a pen to exercise, stretch, play, explore and forage and should be at a height so that the rabbits are able to stand up on their hind legs, they are most active early morning, late evening and at night.

Rabbits need safe toys and objects to stimulate them and keep them active these could include cardboard boxes with entrance holes where they can hide, plastic/fabric/cardboard tunnels to crawl through and a digging box (cardboard box/litter tray) containing child-friendly sand, soil or shredded paper.

Rabbit Run – Play Pens

Rabbit Run - Play Pen

Friends

Rabbits are communal and sociable animals preferring the company of other rabbits, gentle daily handling from an early age will show them that humans are friends and companions too.

Diet

Rabbits are grazers, in the wild they eat only grass and other plants, rabbits must have hay and/or grass in their diet to help their digestive systems and to wear their teeth down to the correct length and shape as they grow continuously, their front teeth grow 3mm a week.

A rabbit’s diet needs to be made up of 80% grass or hay, 15% greens and 5% nuggets.

Fresh water should always be available.

P1010295Grow your own Rabbit Food

Many ‘greens’ can be grown yourself in the garden, safe suitable greens and vegetables include: Artichoke Leaves, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel Sprout, Cabbages, Whole Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory Greens, Courgette (inc. flowers), Cucumber, Curly Kale, Fennel, Green Beans, Kohl Rabi, Parsnip, Peas (leaves and pods), Salad Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow), Radish Tops, Red Leaf Lettuce, Red Cabbage, Rocket, Romaine Lettuce, Savoy Cabbage, Spinach, Swede, Spring Greens, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Dandelion leaves.

Greens to avoid: Potatoes, Potato leaves, Rhubarb (Leaves and Stalks), Tomato Leaves, Iceburg or light coloured leaf Lettuce.

Root vegetables (carrots) or fruit can be given but only in small amounts as treats.

Rabbits love twigs and branches which wear their teeth down, avoid trees that have fruit with stones such as Cherry and Plum as these are toxic. Safe options are Rowan, Pine, Aspen, Birch, Apple, Pear and branches and leaves from Currant, Raspberry and Blackcurrant.

Forced RhubarbDon't be tempted to give your Rabbit any garden plants and shrubs as many are poisonous these include:

Autumn crocus, Begonia, Black nightshade, Busy lizzie, Buttercup, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Cowslip, Geranmium, Hemlock, Foxglove, Laburnum, Laurel, Lily of the valley, all Ivy plants, Poppy, Rhododendron, Rhubarb, Yucca.

Avoid anything that grows from bulbs, or has been treated with insecticides, fungicides or other toxic products.

 

Rabbits are definitely cute, fluffy and very attractive if you are thinking about getting a rabbit there is a lot to consider so seek reputable advice, have a look on the internet - there is lots of information to help you decide, talk to other people who have rabbits or maybe you could look after a friends rabbit whilst they are on holiday?

For more information have a look at the RSPCA website and the Rabbit Awareness Week website.

 

 

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