Bunnies make fantastic pets!
Find below a few tips from Dr Ellise on some of the common issues that may be found as you get to know your bunnies, tips on how to successfully introduce bunnies to each other, plus tips on a healthy diet and litter training….
There is nothing quite like a pair of bonded bunnies. Being such social creatures, they love to groom one another and cuddle up next to each other. However getting to that point can be quite a process.
A common complaint is bunnies attacking each other especially when a new rabbit is introduced to your rabbits territory.
Often the resident rabbit may attack the newcomer. Aside from some individuals who prefer to be solitary, don’t give up hope, with time and patience most rabbits can be bonded.
Rabbits should be desexed prior to bonding to prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as mitigate hormone-fuelled behaviours such as territoriality.
Things that have helped me during bonding rabbits…
*Have your rabbits in pens close to each other but not touching – this is so that they can’t bite and injure each other.
*Introduce them on neutral ground – this is somewhere neither rabbit has spent much time as their sense of smell is very sensitive. Such as a neutral pen. With one successful bond I put both rabbits in my bathtub for two weeks with a pen surrounding it.This environment was easy to clean and the slippery surface meant that they had to move slower and could not chase each other.
*Certainly a lot easier with desexed rabbits.
*Swapping their litter trays so they can get used to each others scent.
*Some may be difficult to bond and may take more time than others.
*Always reward for good behaviour.
*Sometimes placing both bunnies in a stressful situation, such as taking them for a car ride, may help the bonding process, the theory being that they will look to each other for comfort during times of stress.
What should a rabbit’s diet consist of?
Hay should always be available. Good quality hay should make up the bulk of your new pet rabbit’s diet. Your rabbit’s teeth grow throughout it’s entire life – chewing wears down the teeth and prevents them from becoming overgrown. The high fibre content of long-strand hay is essential for the healthy functioning of your rabbit’s digestive system.
Meadow, rye, oaten (mine particularly like oaten), wheaten, timothy – a hay that is low in protein and calcium to avoid obesity and urinary disease.
Their hay can be bought in smaller portions or in bales from produce stores if you have the storage room.
How to pick good hay – it should be green (not yellow) and smell nice (not mouldy/sour).
Always keep their hay dry.
Provide Vegetables as part of their diet: dark leafy greens such as kale, endive and bok choy.
The optimal diet for an adult rabbit is hay and fresh vegetables – the rabbit’s digestive system is adapted for eating large amounts of fibrous food.
Did you know rabbits can be litter trained?
*Start with a shallow cat litter tray, if the side is too high you can cut out a section so they can get in and out easier.
*For litter you can use straw, hay, shredded paper, recycled paper type litter or wood shavings take care as some cat litters as they may be harmful to rabbits.
*Make sure litter it is a different material to what is used for their bedding area so you don’t confuse your rabbit.
*Place litter tray in a corner and provide a small area or room for the rabbit for the first few days so they get familiar with finding their toilet area and place them in their litter tray frequently for the first few days to encourage them to use it.
*Add some of their droppings.
*Litter should be changed regularly.
Dr Ellise has an interest in bunnies, owning several of her own. If you would like to make an appointment with Dr Ellise or one of our other vets please phone the clinic on 02 43621644.