Rabbits are increasingly being desired as pets for their tenderness, docility, sociability and small space needed at home. However, before you bring one home, you should be informed about the most common breeds as pets, food, accessories, health and most importantly, you should be ready to assume your responsibilities during their 5-year average lifespan.
Most common pet breeds
There are several different types of rabbits depending on size, weight and color. A dwarf rabbit can weigh more than 1 kilo while larger rabbits can reach up to 6 kilos or more. Among the most common as pets are: Dwarf Hotot, Polish, Dutch, Dutch Dwarf, Rex, Mini Rex, Lionhead, Holland Lop and Mini Lop.
The bigger the cage, the better the rabbit’s quality of life will be, because he´ll be able to move and walk more. It should be located in a ventilated area because they don’t tolerate heat very well, especially in the summer. A cage of 100 cm long will allow him to feel comfortable and calm, and even better if it has side doors through which he can come and go (always under your supervision and surveillance).
Instead, the doors at the top of the cage can be dangerous. Once I learned about a rabbit that was trying to get out of it but his front legs were trapped between the bars, taking a hard blow to the mouth.
It´s also important to collect the droppings and urine leftovers daily to keep him odorless.
Recommended cage: Pawhut 40 in.
He needs fresh drinking water and to keep it clean it should be emptied daily. The ones with nozzle are the best because they can drink water whenever they want without wetting the cage.
Waterer with nozzle
For your rabbit to stop drinking water is a bad sign.
The best ones are those attached to the cage, for that will prevent food inside the cage to spill.
Cave or hut
Rabbits love shelters to feel protected.
It`s placed from outside to keep it clean and the rabbit will eat it from within.
A tray for relieving himself
You can place it in a corner of the cage (some owners prefer to put it outside of it). Don´t use sawdust as substrate or soft wood shavings (pine and cedar), since they emit phenols that are harmful to your health. One alternative is to buy substrates made of compressed cereal hay. But never use cat litter, for it releases a dust which is harmful for his eyes, lungs and respiratory tract.
It´s useful for removing hair that accumulates in the digestive tract; better to buy it especially for rabbits.
Brushing him will prevent the formation of hairballs in the stomach (which can be fatal). The long-haired breeds should be brushed daily.
Never take him away in arms because he can get scared. The carrier will guarantee a safe transfer.
You can use it to go for a walk or indoors to hold him in dangerous situations.
Remember that rabbits like to bite and can do so on electrical cables. With the protectors you’ll keep him protected when loose at home.
As always, the quality of food is a key factor for the good health of any pet:
• Hay is the most important food; it should be green and not damp. On top of this, he needs large amounts of fiber and vegetables that are free of pesticides.
• They love broccoli, carrot, cilantro, celery, parsley and fruits like apples, bananas and strawberries.
• Fodder should not be the basis of their diet, but a complement.
– You must take him to a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals to check his health and the vaccinations he needs.
– Some of the most important vaccines are those that prevent myxomatosis (a disease transmitted by fleas and mosquitoes) and viral hemorrhage (spread by poorly washed vegetables).
– Neutering (in males) or sterilization (in females) is recommended to avoid and eliminate uteri tumors and eliminate the aggressiveness of males in the mating season.
– Rabbit´s teeth grow continuously; they need to bite to wear them and avoid pain, ulcers or abscesses. You can offer them special toys to gnaw.
Points to remember in the good care of your rabbit
Clean the cage weekly with a special disinfectant for cages.
Empty the feeder and waterer daily, cleaning both the nozzle and the interior.
Check that there are no broken wires inside the cage because he can get hurt.
Keeping him idle inside the cage will cause stress, disease and overweight. He needs to go out daily under your supervision for about 2 hours to walk, jump and play.
To detect any abnormality in his health, you should be alert to any symptoms such as diarrhea, ear scabs, mites, fleas and unusual skin growths on the body.
Natural hay should never be lacking in his daily food as it is excellent for his digestion.