Are you ready for a rabbit? Are you familiar with its penchant for digging? Do you understand its dietary and housing needs? Before bringing a new rabbit home, you should learn basic bunny care.
As with any domesticated animal, we can trace most of the rabbit’s behaviour back to his wild ancestors. And it comes as no surprise that rabbits, by nature, are diggers and burrowers. In the wild, a safe excavation for homes and birthing places can reach one meter in depth; so it will take your rabbit almost no time at all to ruin a carpet or dig a tunnel in your garden – should they have the opportunity. Your best option is to supervise your rabbit closely and provide it safe alternatives to fulfil its natural tendency to dig.
There are more than 45 recognised breeds of rabbits, which can range in size from approximately 1kg to 7kg, and live an average of five to 10 years (if they are spayed or neutered.) Regardless of what type of rabbit you choose to adopt, there are several considerations to keep in mind:
- A rabbit housed alone or living with only one or two cage mates of the same gender (after three to four months of age) will be more relaxed and less exposed to disease.
- Rabbits should be kept in clean cages and have access to fresh food and water.
- Avoid touching a rabbit (or sticking your fingers in its cage) while it’s sleeping.
- The rabbit should be calm, yet alert, when you approach him and pick him up. His normal heart beat is 130 to 300 beats per minute.
- Look for a round, firm belly, neither too fat nor too thin.
- There should be no swellings, scars or scabs on the rabbit’s body.
- A rabbit should have a shiny coat and be free of bald spots or wet, matted fur – especially near the chin or tail.
- The rabbit should have clear eyes, a pink nose and pink ears, all free from any type of discharge. A normal temperature ranges from 38 to 40 C.
- The edges of the rabbit’s teeth should be perfectly aligned. The teeth should be short and even, allowing it to eat normally.
- The rabbit’s breathing should be quiet and easy. Its respiration should be between 30 and 60 breaths per minute.
- The rabbit should be able to move freely, with no sign of lameness.
- Don’t rush when selecting a new pet. Take your time and get all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.
Rabbits are friendly, energetic and entertaining. They need daily interaction and playtime with caretakers or other rabbits. Rabbits also enjoy playing with toys and having a safe place to hide. If given the proper attention, most rabbits can become good companions. In addition, they are available in enough breeds, colours and hair variations to suit almost any preference.