Saturday, November 17, 2007

Traveling with a rabbit


Traveling with a rabbitRabbits HATE traveling. This is a warning that your rabbit will be very angry at you for making her go into a small box for hours. Rabbits hate being in small enclosed areas as they cannot not escape from predators.
To travel safely with your rabbit, you need to buy a carrier. Cardboard boxes are NOT satisfactory carriers as rabbits will eat the cardboard and can potentially escape. The cardboard can also become soggy from rabbit urine and may tear easily. Other containers, such as a laundry basket, are also not safe as rabbits can escape easily. Holding rabbits on your lap is very dangerous and in case of hard braking in a car, you will not be able to hold the rabbit. Carriers can be bought from most pet shops and some vets.

To make the carrier more comfortable for your rabbit, place a soft towel or mat in the carrier. This will ensure that the rabbit does not slide around, and has a soft surface to sit on. You will also need to place some food and water in the carrier. Use a water bottle, as a dish of water in the carrier will spill. Before the trip, let your rabbit get used to the carrier, and make it a safe, comfortable area for the rabbit so he will be less stressed when placed inside.

Place the carrier on the floor of the vehicle you are traveling in. This will be more stable for the rabbit, and often darker. Rabbits feel more secure in a darkened area rather than being next to a window. If possible, break the trip up into sections to allow the rabbit to have a rest. This will also allow you to check how your rabbit is coping with the trip.
When you arrive at your destination, ensure that you set up the rabbit's home first so he can de-stress and relax after the trip.

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Preparing The Rabbit Cage Or Hutch


Before preparing the cage the intended location of the cage should be considered carefully.

If kept outside the hutch should have a waterproof roof and be placed in a position that gives some shelter from direct wind, rain and sun.

If kept indoors the cage should be placed away from direct sunlight, away from draughts and in a room of constant temperature. Avoid putting the cage near a heater where the rabbit may become hot and be sure to put the cage out of the way of any other pets which may harm the rabbit.

To prepare the cage :

  • Place a good layer of woodshavings on the floor of the cage.

  • Place plenty of hay in the cage, or the enclosed area of the hutch.

  • Fill the water bottle with water and fix it to the cage at a height that the rabbit will be able to reach comfortably. Check by running a finger over the end of the spout that it is delivering water. If it is not give the bottle a little squeeze, dry the end of the spout and run a finger over it again. Pet Shops sell liquid vitamins which can be added to the water and these can be particularly beneficial if the rabbit is ill.

  • Fill the food dish with rabbit food and place this in the cage.
    Place any cage accessories in suitable positions within the cage.

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Should I get one rabbit or two ?

______________________________________________________Rabbits are generally happier in pairs. After all wouldn't you like to have someone to talk to? Rabbits groom each other, keeping hard to reach places clean. They also provide each other a warm cushion to lean on, and often one will be the sentry while the other takes a nap. Having said that, it can be difficult to bond two rabbits. Often they fight when they are first introduced until one rabbit is deemed to be the dominant rabbit of the pair. As you can imagine, this can be quite a problem with two headstrong bossy rabbits. Some rabbit owners are lucky as their rabbit is very accepting of a new friend. Its better to get two rabbits from the same litter as they will be less likely to fight. Read about Fuzzy and Thumper to get an idea of how I bonded them together.

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How You can keep your Pet Rabbit


Pet rabbits like to stay clean. They are constantly cleaningthemselves. This is important for their health and wellbeing.

You can be a big help to your pet rabbit by following thesetips for general cleaning of your pet rabbit and it's environment.

Pet Rabbit Cleanliness

Things you can do to keep your pet rabbit as clean as possible :
  • Changing litter on a regular basis : It's a good idea to changeyour rabbit's litter daily, especially if you're using hay or oneof the organic litters such as alfalfa, oat or paper. Rabbiturine has a very strong odor and will quickly make itselfapparent.
  • Placement of the litter box : When you first get your rabbit,observe where she deposits her urine and pills. Usually this isin one of the corners of her cage, and that is where you shouldplace the litter box.

  • Keeping the litter box clean : Your rabbit's litter box should bethoroughly cleaned and disinfected once a week. You can use whitevinegar to rinse the box out, and make sure to let it soak forthose really tough stains.

  • Keeping the cage clean : Your pet's bedding should be changed oncea week. At the same time, scrub her food and water dishes withhot water and detergent -- make sure to rinse them well so thatno traces of soap are left. A complete cleaning of your rabbit'scage should be done once a month. Wash the cage using adisinfectant made specifically for small animals; make sure todilute the disinfectant in hot soapy water. If you're using ahousehold cleaner, avoid ammonia-based products and be sure torinse thoroughly with water afterwards.

  • Pest control : Keep your rabbit's environment free of parasitessuch as fleas and ticks with the use of products designed to keepthese pests under control. If you use sprays or flea bombs, keepyour rabbit out of the room for a minimum of 24 hours.

  • Cleaning up accidents : Like all household pets, your rabbit willoccasionally have accidents when let out of her cage. Clean themup immediately using a good cleaner or a mixture of 1/4 whitevinegar and 3/4 club soda; enzyme-based pet stain cleaners alsowork.

Do NOT use ammonia-based cleaners, as urine also containsammonia and you might actually be inviting your rabbit to re-usethe spot.

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A Balanced Diet


Rabbits have complex digestive systems, so it's very important that they receive a proper diet. Many health problems in rabbits are caused by foods that are incompatible with their digestive physiology. A basic rabbit diet should consist of the following foods:


Rabbits need hay—specifically, Timothy grass hay. Rabbits should have access to a constant supply of this hay, which aids their digestive systems and provides the necessary fiber to help prevent health problems such as hair balls, diarrhea, and obesity. Alfalfa hay, on the other hand, should only be given to adult rabbits in very limited quantities, if at all, because it's high in protein, calcium, and calories. Vegetables

In addition to hay, the basic diet of an adult rabbit should consist of leafy, dark green vegetables such as romaine and leaf lettuces, parsley, cilantro, collard greens, arugula, escarole, endive, dandelion greens, and others. Variety is important, so feed your rabbit three different vegetables at a time. When introducing new veggies to a rabbit's diet, try just one at a time and keep quantities limited.

Fruits and Treats

While hay and vegetables are the basis of a healthy diet, rabbits also enjoy treats. Cartoons and other fictional portrayals of rabbits would lead us to believe that carrots are the basis of a healthy rabbit diet. Many rabbits enjoy carrots, but they are a starchy vegetable and should only be given sparingly as a treat. Other treats your rabbit might enjoy are apples (without stems or seeds), blueberries, papaya, strawberries, pears, peaches, plums, or melon. Extra-sugary fruits like bananas, grapes, and raisins are good too, but should be given on a more limited basis.

Foods to Avoid

With such sensitive digestive systems, there are a number of foods that rabbits should avoid eating. These include iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, corn, beans, peas, potatoes, beets, onions, rhubarb, bamboo, seeds, grains, and many others. Also, don't feed your rabbit chocolate, candy, anything moldy, or most human foods. If you are not sure about a certain food, ask your rabbit's veterinarian.

If you choose to make pellets a part of your rabbit's diet, it is best to use them as a supplement to the dark green, leafy vegetables, not as a substitute. These pellets should only be given in small quantities (1/8 -1/4 cup per five pounds of body weight per day, spread out over two daily feedings). Also, make sure to purchase Timothy-based pellets. Many brands of rabbit feed contain seeds, corn, and other foods that are too high in calories to be the basis for a healthy rabbit's diet.


Rabbits should always have an ample supply of fresh water available. Be sure to change your rabbit's water at least once each day. Water can be kept in a sipper bottle or bowl. If you use a sipper bottle, watch new rabbits to make sure they know how to use the bottles, and clean bottles daily so the tubes don't get clogged. If you use a bowl, make sure that the bowl is heavy enough to avoid tipping and spilling.

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Size and weight


Rabbits vary in size and weight. As lagomorphs, they have four incisors on their top jaw and two on the bottom jaw, that grow continuously throughout their life. This is distinct from rodents, which have two each on the top and bottom. Rabbits have long ears, large hind legs, and short fluffy tails. Rabbits move by hopping, using their long and powerful hind legs. To facilitate quick movement, rabbit hind feet have a thick padding of fur to dampen the shock of rapid hopping. Their 4 toes are long, and are webbed to keep them from spreading apart as they jump. They have 5 digits on their front paws. Depending on the species of the rabbit, one can reach a speed of 15-20 m/s (35-45 mph). Young rabbits appear to 'walk', instead of hopping.

Some species are well-known for digging networks of burrows, called warrens, where they spend most of their time when not feeding.

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Pet Qualities (pros and cons)


  • Rabbits are social with gentle handling are generally quite tame.
  • They are playful and entertaining to watch.
  • Being social, they need a great deal of interaction with their owners and/or other rabbits to be happy. Daily playtime and exercise outside of their case is necessary.
  • They are not low maintenance - it takes a good deal of work to properly care for a rabbit.
  • They can be litter trained.
  • They do need to chew, so lots of chewable toys should be provided, and any spaces where the rabbit is allowed to run must be carefully rabbit-proofed.
  • They need a relatively large cage.
  • While they are generally quiet pets, rabbits are not a good match for active young children who may not be careful enough when picking them up or playing around them.
  • Rabbits like to be near their people, but they often would rather not be held.
  • They will likely require some veterinary care, which can be expensive. They should be spayed or neutered (by a vet experienced with surgery on rabbits) and they may require vaccinations depending on where you live (see Rabbit Vaccinations from for more on vaccines).
  • Rabbit urine can have a strong odor so expect to change their litterbox frequently (spaying and neutering can help reduce the odor. In addition their urine is high in calcium so can leave a chalky residue when it dries that can be hard to clean up (vinegar is pretty effective for this).

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Should I get a baby rabbit ?


Baby rabbits are very cute for a while, but they will grow up. If you get a fully grown rabbit, then you know exactly how big the rabbit will be. Many pet shops sell rabbits as "dwarfs" but they grow up into big rabbits. Also baby rabbits will grow up and go through bunny puberty. This is where male rabbits spray everything in urine to mark territory, and both male and female rabbits can get aggressive. Until the rabbit is old enough to be spayed, there is nothing you can do. Also rabbit's personalities can change with puberty.
A cuddly friendly bunny may turn into a big territorial finger biting terror. When you adopt an older rabbit (>6 months), his/her personality won't change much. If you do end up buying a baby rabbit, please make sure it is 8-10 weeks old. May pet shops take the baby rabbits away from their mum's far too early. Baby rabbits need to stay with their mum (doe) to develop intestinal bacteria. While the babies are drinking milk from the doe, their intestines are sterile. When they start eating solid food, they also eat the doe's poops. Taking the babies away too soon means they may develop intestinal problems later on due to the lack of healthy bacteria.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Handle With Care


Rabbits are fragile animals who must be handled carefully. Their bones are so delicate that the muscles in their powerful hind legs can easily overcome the strength of their skeletons. As a result, if not properly restrained, struggling rabbits can break their own spines.

To pick up your rabbit, place one hand underneath the front of the rabbit and the other hand underneath his back side, lifting him carefully with both hands and bringing him against your body. Never let a rabbit's body hang free, never lift by the stomach, and never pick a rabbit up by his ears.
Don't forget that rabbits are prey animals and many will not enjoy being picked up. Be sure to go slowly with your rabbit and practice. Let your rabbit get accustomed to being handled.

Rabbits groom each other around the eyes, ears, top of the nose, top of the head, and down the back, so they'll enjoy it if you pet them on their heads. Like any animal, each rabbit will have an individual preference about where he likes to be touched. Rabbits lack the ability to vomit or cough up hairballs like cats, so try to remove loose fur when you have the opportunity to do so.

Simply petting or brushing your rabbit for a few minutes each day should remove most of the excess fur. Some rabbit breeds, such as angoras, have extra grooming needs because of their distinctive coats.

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The type of housing you needs depends on whether you have one rabbit for a pet or whether you want more than a few rabbits. The more rabbits you have, the more accommodating your space must be. A recommended cage size for a small rabbit is 30" X 30" X 14". This will give your rabbit plenty of room to run around and be a rabbit, while providing room for a nest box in the future. Larger rabbits should have around 36" X 30" X 18".

Wire is the best material for cages because it's the easiest to clean and sanitize. Wood will get messy quickly, and rabbits tend to chew on it. An all-wire cage is best, but if wood is needed, try and keep the amount of wood available to the rabbit inside the cage or hutch at a minimum.
Cages should be kept out of drafts, away from predators, and out of the weather. Also, they should be kept in the shade, because rabbits are very susceptible to heat and can get ill if they are not well-cooled.

A sitting board should be provided for larger breeds and for rabbits which have a thinner hair surface of their feet. This is to prevent sore hocks

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Location and habitat


Rabbits are ground dwellers that live in environments ranging from desert to tropical forest and wetland. Their natural geographic range encompasses the middle latitudes of the Western Hemisphere. In the Eastern Hemisphere rabbits are found in Europe, portions of Central and Southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Sumatra, and Japan. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been introduced to many locations around the world, and all breeds of domestic rabbit originate from the European. Nearly half of the world's rabbit species are in danger of extinction; many are among the most vulnerable of all mammals

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About Rabbits


Rabbits are mammals which belong to the Lagomorph order that also includes hares and pikas (Lagomorph means 'hare-shaped'). They are similar to rodents in that they have incisor teeth that continually grow. Rabbits form the Family Leporidae under which there are over 50 species. The rabbit species widely kept as a pet is Oryctolagus cuniculus and within this species various breeds have been developed by enhancing different characteristics through selective breeding. Rabbits are herbivores (plant eating) and have a high reproduction rate. They have long ears, powerful hind legs with long feet and a short, furry, upturned tail.
Rabbits are most most active at dawn and dusk and often nap during the day.