Rabbit Education

Myth:

Rabbits are 

caged pets

Fact:

Rabbits require a minimum of 16 sq feet

of floor space at all times

Rabbits

Myth:

Rabbits only need pellets as a part of their diet.

Fact:

A rabbit's diet should consist of:
80% Hay

15% Fresh Veggies
5% Pellets & Treats

Some facts to know before bringing a rabbit into your home:

* Rabbits live an average of 8-10 years (often longer)

* Rabbits have very sensitive digestive tracts.  GI stasis can be deadly if not treated within 24-48 hours

* Rabbits do NOT make good pets for small children, and are not suited as a "starter" pet.

* Rabbits are chewers!  You will need to rabbit proof your home.

* Rabbits are considered an "exotic" pet in terms of veterinary care.  They require a veterinarian that specializes in rabbit care and ailments.

* Exotic veterinary care can be very expensive.

* Rabbits must be spayed or neutered to prevent things such as hormonal problems, as well as prevent reproductive cancers.

* Rabbits should be kept as an indoor pet.

Diet

* A rabbit's diet should be composed of:
 

- 80% Timothy Hay (fed in unlimited amounts).  Alfalfa hay is only suitable for rabbits 6 months of age and under, or nursing/pregnant mothers.  This is due to the amount of calcium it contains, which is harmful to adult rabbits.  Timothy hay can also be mixed with other grass hays, such as orchard grass, oat hay, brome hay, etc.  Rabbits require hay as their teeth never stop growing!  If they don't have continuous access to hay to wear their teeth down, this can lead to severe and life threatening issues, such as difficulty eating and GI Stasis.

- 15% Fresh Vegetables.  Not all vegetables are created equal though!  You want to ensure you are feeding your bun rabbit-safe veggies, such as dark leafy greens, herbs, wheat grass & more (please download our Rabbit Care Guide for a more comprehensive list of safe veggies).  Be sure not to feed large quantities of vegetables that are high in calcium.

- 5% Pellets/Treats.  A high quality, TIMOTHY based kibble, such as Oxbow, should be fed in very small quantities (1/8 of a cup twice a day for average sized rabbits).  Pellets with colored bits (we call them the "Lucky Charms" of rabbit food) are of very low quality, and are full of starches and fillers, which can cause obesity and other serious health issues in your rabbit.  Treats should be fed sparingly (this includes fruit).  Seed based or yogurt based treats should NEVER be fed to your bunny.  Rabbits cannot properly digest dairy, and seeds can be damaging to their digestive systems.

Common Ailments

* Common ailments to watch for in your rabbit:

- GI STASIS: Rabbits have very delicate GI (gastrointestinal) tracts.  Rabbits can go into what's called "GI Stasis".  This is a very serious and life threatening condition, which requires immediate treatment and veterinary care.  Common symptoms include not eating, not pooping, hunching over, lethargy and tooth grinding.  If not properly treated, GI Stasis can be fatal within 24-48 hours.

- Tooth Problems: A rabbit's teeth never stop growing.  If a rabbit's teeth become overgrown, it can lead to a variety of health problems, including mouth ulcers, abscesses, eye problems and upper respiratory issues.  Chewing hay (and other chew toys) will help to grind down a rabbit's teeth.  Rabbits have approx. 28 teeth, which grow an average of 12cm per year!  This is why hay is intended to be approx. 80% of their diet!

- Respiratory Issues: Rabbits have a delicate respiratory tract.  "Snuffles" can be contracted very easily, and can be acute or chronic in nature.  Symptoms include: nasal discharge, ocular (eye) discharge and difficult breathing.  See your veterinarian if you have concerns.

Housing

* NO CAGES!  Rabbits require a minimum of 16 square feet of floor space at all times.  The need room to move, run and jump (unless recovering from surgery or other medical conditions that require limited movement.)  Please keep in mind that these are the absolute minimum requirements, and that more is always better.  This can often be obtained by using things such as x-pens or C&C grids.

* Flooring - To prevent conditions such as pododermatitis/sore hocks, rabbits require the softest floor possible.  This can include things such as soft carpet, foam pads and fleece blankets.  Generally speaking, most rabbits do not enjoy running around on a slippery surface.  Even if they do, constantly running around on hard surfaces can cause severe damage to the bottoms of their delicate feet.

* Things that should be in your rabbit's enclosure:

- Litter Box & rabbit safe litter (NEVER use clay cat litter)
- Food & Water Dishes (drinking from a dish as opposed to a bowl is much better for your rabbit's teeth)
- Bin/container for hay.  PLEASE NOTE: Most "hay racks" or "hay balls" are completely unsafe for rabbits, especially the metal ones.  Their paws/legs can get caught, resulting in serious injury.  Some folks will use their litter box as their hay container (rabbits poop where they eat!).  You can also use something like an empty brown toilet paper tube to stuff the hay into (and make it a bit of a game for your bun.)
- Some form of hide.  Things often used include cardboard boxes, log houses, fleece hides, etc.
- Enrichment items, such as interactive toys, wooden chews/sticks, rabbit-safe stuffed animals etc.

Miscellaneous Information

* Do not keep your rabbit isolated away from your family.  Rabbits require social interactions, just like we do.  Keep your rabbit in a high traffic area in your home when at all possible

* Rabbits enjoy playing with toys.  Things that they can push/pull are generally enjoyable for them.  They love things like cardboard and wooden chew toys to play with.

* RABBITS ARE CHEWERS! - You need to protect things in your home like electrical cords when your rabbit is running around.

* When you first bring a rabbit into your home, you should expect some undesirable behaviors, such as chewing, not using the litter box, and general shyness.  This is normal.  You need to give your rabbit time to adjust to it's new environment (just like you would a cat or a dog).  Many issues can be resolved by following the steps we have outlined above.  When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian for suggestions on how to curb behavioral issues - or reach out to us for suggestions!

** UNDER CONSTRUCTION **