Caring for your Rabbit

Did you know that rabbits are the 3rd most popular pet in the UK? Rabbits make fantastic family pets, but there is a lot that needs to be understood to properly care for them. Whether you are already an owner of a rabbit or are considering introducing one into the family, the Leading the Way Pet Care Helpline Team are here with advice for your family pets.

Correct handling

Maybe people don’t know that rabbits don't really like to be picked up. This is because rabbits are prey animals, and, instinctively, they will use aggression if they are restrained and struggle to get free. Teaching your rabbit to accept being handled is important for health and dental checks and should be introduced when young. If you have an adult rabbit and they don’t like being handled, you can call and speak to our Leading the Way Pet Care Helpline on 0800 027 9846 or email us at [email protected] so we can offer you bespoke advice and guidance on how to build your rabbit's confidence about being handled.

So, please be aware that your bundle of fluff may not be comfortable with cuddles or too much handling by the family – especially young children and unfamiliar visitors.

Space is key

Rabbits in the wild cover a large area of ground each day. This instinct is also an important behaviour need in your pet rabbit. Historically, in rabbit husbandry, rabbits were kept in hutches, but we know today this isn't the best for the health and welfare of pet rabbits.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) recommend a minimum housing area of 10 ft x 6 ft x 3ft (10m x 3 m x 1m) for the average pair of rabbits. When choosing a house for your pet rabbit, here are a few things you need to consider:

  • The correct size of house and area for a pair of rabbits
  • Space to roam in the house
  • Security of the house
  • Location of the house
  • Nevermore happier than when coupled

    Rabbits are very sociable pets. They need to live in a social pair or group to sustain their social and behavioural needs such as companionship, snuggling up together and grooming each other. Matching rabbits can sometimes take a little work to get it right. If you are experiencing any issues with your rabbit or would like some advice on how to introduce your rabbit to a new partner, you can call 0800 027 09846 or email [email protected] and speak to our Leading the Way Pet Care Helpline Team.

    The perfet diet

    Rabbits have very specific dietary needs! They need unlimited access to fresh grass or hay, every day. Fresh grass or hay makes up 85% of a rabbit’s diet (RWAF). Daily, fresh grass or hay needs to be your rabbit’s main food source, and, alongside this, rabbits require a complete dry food which will make up 5% of their diet (RWAF). Topping up with a complete dry food means your rabbit will receive all the nutrients they need. OSCAR Pet Foods, our sister company, recommend the Burgess Excel Rabbit range. And, of course, plenty of fresh water every day!

    Greens, glorious greens!

    Your rabbit needs fresh, leafy greens everyday such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and spinach. The list goes on; these are just some examples. Lettuce is on the green list but be aware that feeding too much can give your rabbit loose droppings, which can lead to them not being able to toilet normally. Fresh greens should make up to 10% (RWAF ) of your rabbit’s diet, every day.

    Daily chewing

    Did you know that a rabbit’s front teeth grow between 10 and 12 cm each year? It is very important that your rabbit is provided with fresh grass or hay every day; the roughage helps to keep their teeth healthy and stops them from over growing. If your rabbit doesn’t have the opportunity to regularly chew throughout the day, this can lead to serious dental issues, such as overgrown teeth.

    Healthy digestion

    Did you know that rabbits are known as fibrevores? Being fibrevores means that their digestive systems need to be kept busy with two types of fibre; digestible and indigestible fibre. Rabbits need these two types of fibre to produce two types of droppings. Indigestible fibre creates a hard dropping which you will find in your rabbit’s house. The digestible fibre helps to create sticky droppings called caecotrophs. Caecotroph droppings are re-eaten by your rabbit in order to absorb the nutrients from them. You typically don't see these droppings in your rabbit house because they are eaten straight away.

    Enrichment

    Rabbits need to be able to behave like rabbits! This is why providing daily enrichment is so important in keeping a rabbit happy. Daily enrichment will also help to reduce obesity in your rabbit and reduce behavioural problems.

    Here are some examples of daily enrichment for your rabbit:

  • Foraging for food
  • Rabbit toys
  • Clicker training
  • Trick training
  • Food activity toys
  • Digging pit
  • Tunnels, stumps, platforms to climb
  • Cardboard box with things hidden inside
  • How Leading the Way Pet Care can help you

    Whether you are going away on holiday, working away on business or out for a long day, Leading the Way Franchisees can come and provide all the care and attention your rabbit needs while you are away. We provide an alternative care solution to avoid you having to take your rabbit or small animals to a boarding establishment. Leading the Way Franchisees are given professional animal husbandry training to care for your rabbit and small animals.

    If you would like to chat further about the care of your rabbit, please contact us at Leading the Way via email [email protected] or phone our Helpline on 0800 027 9846

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