Everybody Loves Some Bunny: Tips for Rabbit Care
Flemish Giant. Rex. Mini Lop. Angora. Himalayan. If any of these names ring a bell, you probably enjoy rabbits. And really, when one looks into the nose-twitching face of an adorable, intelligent rabbit, it’s hard not to get a kick out of them. Rabbits make quiet, curious, and docile pets, and once you get a handle on rabbit care methods, you can hop alongside your bunny for the next 5-8 years.
Bucks and Does
Perhaps surprisingly, baby bunnies are actually called “kittens” and are produced by mating males called bucks and females called does. Known worldwide for their prolific breeding abilities, rabbits can mate at about 6 months old. The pregnant doe gives birth 30 days later to a litter of 4-10 kits.
Spaying or Neutering
It’s recommended that pet rabbits undergo a spay or neuter procedure to eliminate unwanted litters. This can occur around the age of 6 months and has shown to be very effective against both medical and behavioral problems.
Rabbits generally enjoy the company of other rabbits, but this “affinity” can really become a problem. That’s why it’s so important to spay or neuter your pet or adopt rabbits of the same gender.
Holding Your Rabbit
Rabbits have fragile skeletons that make holding them an exercise in restraint. They have powerful hind feet that kick back when mishandled, and this quick action can dislocate or even fracture their backs.
It’s of the utmost importance to always hold a rabbit gently. Try keeping one hand under the chest with the other supporting the hind feet, and never allow falls. Because of this, children must be closely supervised around rabbits. Get down on the ground or close to it, and give your rabbit the chance to get close. It may take some time, but many rabbits do enjoy socializing with their keepers.
Other Elements of Rabbit Care
Spring sees an uptick in bunny adoptions, and in light of these interesting facts, it’s not hard to see why:
- Rabbits are not rodents. Belonging to the family of lagomorphs, rabbits have two pairs of upper incisor teeth. These teeth will continue to grow throughout their life and sometimes need professional care.
- Rabbits love to chew. Provide wood to keep the teeth down, and forbid roaming around your home. Wires and electric cords are highly attractive to these obsessive choppers. Also, reduce fabric or textiles that can create GI obstructions when eaten (e.g., carpet and towels).
- Rabbits are easily recognizable by their ears. Beyond amazing hearing, the ears also regulate body temperature.
- Rabbits eat lots of fiber from timothy hay, high quality pellets, and dark, leafy vegetables. Their digestion is specially equipped to handle this extra fiber. In addition to their round fecal pellets, rabbits produce cecotropes that, when eaten, provide the necessary nutrients to break down their diet.
- The back feet are used for speedy mobility, but they can create a loud thump as a warning sign.
- Rabbits rarely make any noise, but it’s not uncommon for a rabbit to scream in fright or pain. Likewise, grunts or growls are sometimes heard.
Three Cheers for Pet Rabbits!
After you make the choice to adopt a pet rabbit, we’d like to examine him or her. Parasites and overall wellness always deserve a closer look. We can discuss diet, rabies vaccination, housing, and appropriate toys to keep your rabbit happy.