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In the wild rabbits have unlimited access to graze and roam. We need to try and simulate this with our pet rabbits to help keep them happy and healthy.

Housing and husbandry

Outdoor

  • A safe and secure hutch with a run that extends out on to grass.
  • Bedding inside the hutch should be a thick layer of wood shavings to absorb urine, with hay to nest and eat.

Indoor

  • A crate or hutch should be provided so that the rabbit can feel safe and secure.
  • Bedding of wood shaving should be provided to absorb urine, with plenty of hay to nest and eat.
  • You should provide your house rabbit with daily access to the outside which is secure. This is so they can absorb vital vitamins and have access to grass.
  • Rabbits will generally urinate and defecate in one corner and this should be cleaned daily.
  • A general all round clean should be performed weekly.

 

Feeding

  • 90% of rabbits food should be grass or grass type such as hay or alfalfa.  This type of feed will provide roughage to keep the teeth worn down and their guts healthy.
  • Vegetables should be given daily, this also provides roughage.  Lettuce and large amounts of cabbage should be avoided as this can cause digestive upsets.
  • Rabbit feed comes in two forms.
    • Muesli type feed can cause selective eating as the rabbit will eat the parts they like then leave the other important bits.
    • Pellet feed will prevent selective eating and will be tolerated well.

We recommend super rabbit excel.

The rabbit feed should be given as a supplementary food as the main bulk of the diet should be provided by the hay.  The pellets can be scattered amongst they hay and on the floor of the hutch so the rabbit can forage for it.

Common health Problems

Teeth

Rabbits teeth continually grow, they wear them down by grinding the fibrous grass and hay between the upper and lower cheek teeth.

Rabbit’s teeth often have problems with overgrowth of the incisors (front teeth) or the cheek teeth (teeth at the back of the mouth), this is called malocclusion and this can be due to genetics or incorrect nutrition.

Overgrowth of the cheek teeth causes spurs which develop on the sides of the teeth digging in to the soft tissues of the mouth.  These injuries to the tissues develop into ulcers causing infection in the mouth and surrounding structures of the

head including the tear ducts close to the eyes.

These spurs need filling off under general anaesthetic.  As with most anaesthetics there are risks, but with rabbits there is an increased risk.  We try to minimise this risk by using the safest anaesthetic methods!

The teeth causing a problem can grow as much as 5-6mm per week therefore needing clipping ideally every 6 weeks. Rabbits with this problem will continually need treatment through out the rest of its life.

 

Flystrike

This is a painful and distressing condition which is caused by flies laying eggs on the rabbit’s coat, usually around the rear end of the rabbit.  These eggs turn into maggots and start destroying the tissues around.

If this has occurred to your pet rabbit will need urgent veterinary treatment.

You should check your rabbit every day to ensure that the genitalia is clean and free from faeces.  You should also check to see if your rabbit is overweight; this can lead to the rabbit being unable to practice coprophagia (eating its own faeces) which is needed to help keep a healthy digestive tract.

 

Myxomatosis

This is a virus that can cause a high temperature, red swollen eyes, lethargy and death. Myxomatosis can be vaccinated against and we would recommend this, as treatment can be difficult and sometimes unsuccessful.

 

 

 

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