Neuetering your rabbit.
Ear mites (Psoroptes cuniculi)
Are a common parasite of rabbits. An infected rabbit will scratch at their ears and may shake their head. A brown crusty exudate is seen in the ears. Treatment can either be a series of injections or ear drops.
A viral disease introduced into Great Britain in the 1950’s, designed to cull the overpopulation of wild rabbits. Since then, there has been a constant low level of myxomatosis infection in the wild rabbit population, which has occasional periods of heavier outbreaks.
Hay contains calcium which is essential for your rabbit’s dental health. To metabolise the calcium your rabbit needs Vitamin D. This will often be available by exposure to sunlight but is also in the grey pellets in your rabbit mix – the part most rabbits choose to leave behind if they can! Without these nutritional factors your rabbit’s dental health will suffer. Once dental damage has occurred it is very hard to correct, so adequate early nutrition is essential.
Rabbits have continuously growing teeth. The average rate of growth of the front teeth (incisors) is 3mm per week. The majority of a rabbit’s diet should be grass and hay. A wild rabbit spends around 70% of its time awake grazing. The continuous grazing allows for proper even wear of the teeth through the side to side movements of the jaw. Optimal nutrition is provided through a digestive process called ‘caecotrophy’.
Average life expectancy is between 8 and 12 years. A female rabbit is called a ‘doe’, a male rabbit called a ‘buck’ and a baby rabbit is called a ‘kitten’. Rabbits have a short gestation period – it only takes one month for a litter to be born after the time of mating.
Rabbit’s claws can grow very long, and so will need to be watched for overgrowth. They can be clipped quite simply – but the rabbit does need to be kept still. If you need any help with this please book an appointment with a Qualified Veterinary Nurse.
It is a good idea to get your rabbit used to being handled, as it will make your visit to the vet for vaccinations far less stressful, and turn your rabbit into a great companion. Take things slowly, as sudden moves will frighten your rabbit and create an air of distrust. Many rabbits will resent being picked up initially, and this will be particularly apparent if you have taken on an adult rabbit.
Rabbits can be housed indoors or outdoors. Outdoor rabbit hutches must be secure from cats, dogs and wild animals. The rabbit must feel safe at all times and be able to hide if necessary – remember that the stress from a fox attack can be fatal even if the fox does not touch the rabbit. The hutch and run must be escape-proof – many rabbits enjoy digging and a mesh base hidden in the grass is a good idea if your rabbit shows burrowing tendencies.