This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Rabbit in 3 easy steps. Rabbits are an ideal pet for beginner pet owners.
How long will my Rabbit live? They can live 6-9 years
How big will it grow? 1-4kg breed dependant
What size of enclosure is recommended for my Rabbit? A hutch of at least 4ft in length
What does a Rabbit eat? Pellets, hay, fruit and vegetables
When it comes to a hutch for a bunny, the general rule is the bigger the better. Your hutch, whether it be indoor or outdoor, wood, metal, or plastic, should be at least 4 feet long so your bunny can easily move around, stretch out and stand up on their hind legs without hitting the roof.
Straw is the best bedding for wire based hutches and wood shavings are good if the hutch has a solid base. The hutch needs to be sturdy, with a hide provided in order to protect your bunny from dogs, cats and other potential hazards.
Cover your hutch with mosquito netting to protect them from mosquitos which can carry and transmit Calicivirus and Myxomatosis – this is especially important with an outdoor hutch.
Your rabbit’s hutch should be cleaned out at least once a week, and more frequently if it is housing more than one bunny. All bedding should be removed, the hutch disinfected with hutch cleaner and then fresh bedding added.
Rabbits need to be wormed every three months against roundworm, which is easily done by adding a ‘small animal’ wormer to their water. Rabbits need to be vaccinated at 8 weeks old, 12 weeks old and then yearly against Calicivirus. Unfortunately, the vaccination for Myxomatosis is unavailable in Australia. For flea protection Advantage can be used monthly, and mites and lice are easily treated with a small animal parasite sprays.
For bathing your bunny a specially formulated small animal shampoo must be used. Ears should be checked regularly and cleaned with a wet washer as necessary. Nails should be trimmed when needed, being sure not to cut the quick; allowing your bunny to run around on pavers or concrete can also help naturally file the nails down. All breeds of rabbit can do with a gentle weekly brush to remove any loose hair but the long coated breeds need daily attention to prevent knots and matting, especially around their bottoms.
As rabbits tend to pick one corner of their hutch as their toileting corner, toilet training is relatively easy. Once your bunny has established a toileting corner, pick up the soiled substrate and place it in a litter tray, then place the litter tray back in the bunny’s chosen corner. As it still smells like their toileting area they will continue to go there, and after a while, they will associate the tray with where to go; the tray can then be moved around in your home to provide them with a toileting area.
As rabbits are grazing animals, they should always have access to a bowl of specially formulated rabbit pellets. This should be offered in a ceramic bowl so it can’t be picked up and tossed. Rabbits also need a handful of Western Timothy Hay and a small amount of fruit and vegetables each day.
Do not feed iceberg lettuce, celery stalks, rhubarb, potato, tomato leaves, avocado, or onions to your bunny. They will happily eat carrot, apple (no seeds), orange, spinach, broccoli and corn but only need small amounts – too much fruit and vegetables can cause diarrhoea. Throw away any uneaten food daily. Wood chews need to be provided as rabbits teeth are constantly growing and chewing on wood keeps their teeth trimmed and healthy.
Rabbits need an element of salt in their diet as it isn’t found in any of their food sources, so it is important to provide them with a salt lick stone; a mineral stone is also required to provide sufficient levels of vitamin C. Fresh, clean water should always be available and is best offered in a water bottle as it is easy to refill and is much more hygienic.
Rabbits are extremely susceptible to heat stress. It is important to ensure that their hutch is not in direct sunlight and frozen water bottles should be provided in summer to allow your bunny to cool off. On days above 30°C it is a good idea to bring your bunny inside to escape the heat.
We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after a Rabbit:
- Igloo hide
- Bedding substrate
- Worming syrup
- Lice & mite spray
- Litter tray
- Nail scissors
- Hutch cleaner
- Oxbow pellets
- Western Timothy hay
- Food bowl
- Water bottle
- Wood chew
- Salt lick mineral stone
Common health issues in Rabbits
Coccidiosis: A parasitic infection that commonly caused watery, mucus-based diarrhoea. If left untreated, it can damage the lining of the intestinal tract. Can be easily treated with prescribed vet medication.
Myxomatosis: A fatal virus most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes. Will show through swelling around the head and eyes, as well as fever, loss of appetite, lethargy and sometimes seizures.
Calicivirus: A disease which attacks the rabbits internal organs, such as the liver and gut, and can also cause haemorrhaging.
Is your Rabbit showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please contact your vet.
- Loss of appetite
- Twitching or head swaying
- Out of character behavior
At Kellyville Pets, we encourage responsible pet ownership.
CARE GUIDE © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - All information found in this care guide is based upon our own experience. The information provided is not the only information available. In any medical situations, you should always consult your vet, including questions regarding your pet's diet.