|Posted by Layla on March 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM|
Rabbit Care Guide
• 1st few days: feed straight from the original bag
• Next few: Mix original food half way with new food
• After: Gradually add less of the original food and more new, until you’re feeding purely the new food
• I feed one full bowl of food per day. If you notice the rabbit is gaining too much weight, cut back the food a bit.
• Give unlimited timothy hay.
• FOR BABIES: Give 1-2 gas drops per day orally for about 5 days or longer if symptoms persist to prevent gastric upset.
• NO VEGETABLES OR OUTSIDE TIME FOR BABIES under 4 months old because it upsets their digestive system
• Best feed is a plain timothy-based pellet such as Oxbox ($14.99 per 5 lbs. bag) and Timothy Complete by Kaytee ($18.99 per 9.5 lbs. bag). Avoid Alfalfa-based because there is too much calcium.
• Avoid food with colorful pieces in it because they’re high in sugar
• Put water in a heavy ceramic or plastic crock or water bottle.
• If outside, bowls are preferable because the bottles freeze in winter
• If outside, pack tons of hay into the nestbox so the rabbits can nest
• Water bowls will freeze, but rabbits can still lick the ice to get water
• Any temperature over 85 degrees is potentially life-threatening
• If it’s 85 and over: buy 2 liter soda bottles, dump soda, fill with water, and freeze. Put 1 or 2 bottles in the rabbit’s cage. The rabbits will lay against it and lick it
• Over 93 degrees or warmer temperatures with high humidity is very dangerous for rabbits, and they should be brought inside in the morning to avoid heatstroke and taken back out late at night when it’s cooler
• An outdoor hutch should be higher off the ground and provide adequate protection from the elements. Can be found at most bigger pet stores. (average $150 and up)
• An indoor cage requires litter (usually $12.99 per bag). Avoid “starter kits” because they’re usually too small for the rabbit. (average $50 and up).
• Rabbits can be easily litter box trained to cut back on litter expenses.
• Grunting and circling: A sign of dominance in does, and hormonal activity in both does and bucks.
• Soft teeth grinding: Usually happens when being pet; a sign of contentment
• Loud teeth grinding: Rabbit is in pain, goes along with injury or disease (distinctly different sound than soft teeth grinding). Rabbit may be in a hunched position and refuse to eat. Vet should be contacted immediately.
• Licking: Rabbit really likes you, and is showing affection
• Scream: A sign of extreme pain or fear; should be taken very seriously
• Growling: Rabbit is angry; so watch out!
• Suddenly flopping on side: No the rabbit isn’t dead! It means they’re content and want to relax
• Jumping and twisting in the air: Known as a “binky”. Rabbit is very happy!
• Flattened ears: Rabbit is defensive or preparing to attack
• Swatting or “boxing”: Rabbits that are feeling territorial or startled will swat with their front paws, usually accompanied by a bite.
• Thumping: Rabbits that are surprised, annoyed, or scared will stomp their back feet on the ground to say “watch out!”
• Head swaying or “scanning”: Rabbits have a blind spot directly in front of their face, so if you stand in this blind spot they may sway their head from side to side to be able to see you better. Ruby eyed white rabbits do this more often because they have poor eyesight.
• Rabbits-especially does-are territorial and will most likely attack anything put in their cage, including your hand. Never put your hand directly into a doe’s cage without first letting her know you’re there and petting the top of her head. Take care to avoid putting your hand in front of the doe’s face or you will probably get bitten or swatted at.
• Gastric Upset: Common in baby rabbits, it’s caused from the stress of being weaned and moving to a new home. Symptoms include lethargy, not eating, and distended stomach. Causes death within 24-48 hours. Give tons of timothy hay to babies and 1-2 infant gas drops per day for the first few days to prevent this.
• Mucoid Enteritis: Baby rabbits weaned from milk to pellets may develop bacteria in their gut, causing their poop to be covered in mucous, shortly followed by diarrhea and death. Strict regimented diet and antibiotics may save the baby if caught in time. If diarrhea is onset, death is unfortunately imminent within one or two days.
• Snuffles: Rabbit has thick white or yellow snot, snorting when breathing or breathing with mouth open. Paws will be covered with the snot. Very contagious and can be deadly if not treated. Cannot be cured but symptoms can be suppressed with medicine from the vet.
• Sore hocks: Bottom of the rabbit’s feet are bare and raw-looking and may bleed. Put Neosporn on the blisters twice a day until they’re gone or spray Blu-Kote. Wrap in bandages if you can.
• Fur mites: A parasite that comes from straw. Rabbit will have an almost V-shaped trail of scabs and dandruff down its back and itch a lot. Very contagious to other rabbits, dogs, and cats. Can be cured by rubbing baby powder in the rabbit’s fur every other day for a week or until symptoms clear, or a dosage of Ivermectin from the vet.
• Fly Strike: Mostly occurs with outside rabbits in warm weather. Flies attracted to the smell of urine or poop and lay eggs on the rabbit’s bottom. Within 4-12 hours maggots hatch and start burrowing into the rabbit’s body. Immediately take the rabbit to the vet, because the maggots release a toxin that causes shock and death in a few hours. If you can’t make the vet trip immediately, soak the rabbit in a basin of warm water, and pick off as many maggots as possible with tweezers. Spray infected areas and maggot holes with hydrogen peroxide and thickly apply Neosporin. Check every few hours to remove any more maggots.
• Nails should be cut once or twice a month. Cut a little in front of the red line (quick). Black nails are a little harder, but you can see the quick if you hold a flashlight against the nail. If quick is accidentally cut, put flour or corn starch to nail and apply pressure.
• Check teeth once or twice a week for chips and misalignment. Misaligned teeth are very painful and can be corrected by a vet trip unless they are genetic.
• Rabbits go through a teenager stage at around 5-8 months old (females especially). They won’t want to be social and may get a little aggressive. Males start humping and spraying. This stage will most likely result in a permanent temperament change. Spaying/neutering will eliminate these problems.
• A list of healthy vegetables and fruits is found here: http://www.rabbit.org/care/veggies.html
The Rabbit Handbook- Karen Gendron. Found at Petsmart
Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits- This book is great for general care info and expert advice. *Note that it’s a livestock book and meat rabbits are discussed. Found at Tractor Supply
Rabbits USA- Annual magazine that has great tips for training and care advice. Found at Petsmart
Heavy food bowl
Cage (indoor or outdoor)
Litter for cage (indoor only)