Rabbits

RODENTS:

B.BUNNIES/RABBITS:

Bunnies are one of the longest standing domestic pets. With their soft and warm eyes, beautiful fur and attractive ears, they make a beautiful animal and are a joy to look at.

SOME FACTS ABOUT RABBITS:

1. The rabbit was first domesticated in the 5th century in France.

2. The most common breeds in South Africa are the Dutch rabbit and the Netherlands Dwarf rabbit.

3. There are about 305 different breeds of rabbit in the world.

4. Rabbits can breed about 4 to 5 litters in one year.

5. The average litter size is 6 kits.

6. Baby rabbits are called kittens or kits.

7. Male rabbits are called a buck and female rabbits are called a doe.

8. Rabbits survive in the wild between 1 to 2 years.

9. Rabbits live from 7-14 years in a domestic environment.

10. Rabbits are herbivores and require a balanced diet.

11. Hares and rabbits are a different species.

12. The Scrub hare -which is endangered, and the Cape hare are indigenous to South Africa.

13.Rabbits have a fragile spine which can be broken easily. Care needs to be taken how they are handled.

GENERAL CARE:

  1. Rabbits require a large space in which to run, jump and play.
  2. The minimum size of a cage is the height of a standing rabbit and the width is 5 large hops to either side.
    1. We do not recommend a standard small cage.
    2. We recommend an outside large cage that is custom built or alternatively rabbits are placed in the bottom of a large aviary.
      1. Where they have a space they can hide, large wooden box, which is secured against flooding and rain.
      2. And need shade
      3. And should have a platform they can hop onto or run onto with the aid of a closed ladder.
    3. Where the rabbit has access to the garden, please ensure it is secured for exit, alternatively the rabbit has a place to hide immediately should a dog enter the garden.
  3. Where the rabbit is an indoor rabbit:
    1. We recommend an overnight cage and
    2. Litter tray-rabbits can be easily trained to use a litter tray.
    3. Rabbit proofing all electric cabling as your rabbit will chew through any and all electric cabling.
  4. Fresh adequate water daily.
  5. Fresh vegetables daily.
  6. Check hay daily and top up.
  7. A small amount of rabbit pellets daily.
  8. Check your rabbits’ weight.
  9. Check your rabbit’s bum area at least once a week for wetness or flystrike especially in summer.
  10. Clean your rabbit’s enclosure at least once a week and remove all faeces and urine.

PRODUCTS:

FOOD:

Rabbit food ratios for a healthy rabbit are:

  1. 20% Commercial rabbit pellet food.
  2. 70% Eragrostis /Hay-this is the most important food component for your rabbit. Please ensure your rabbit has access to hay 24 hours/day. Rabbits guts must work all the time and the digesting and chewing of hay mimics the rabbit’s natural food and is the best food you can give your bunny. Grass, ie Kikuyu from your lawn does not replace hay.
    1. We do not recommend Lucerne to be fed instead of hay/eragrostis as it has a high content of fats and sugar leading over time to gut stasis and possibility of flystrike due to diarrhoea.
  3. 10% Fresh vegetables/fruit -try finely chopped baby marrows, carrots, salad excluding Iceberg and any herb especially Fennel.
    1. Fresh fruit-try strawberries, apple, pear, small amounts of banana.

We carry most commercial rabbit food, treats and a large variety of hay and grasses.

CAGES:

1.We do not sell rabbit cages but recommend custom built ones.

TOYS:

Rabbits love to play and to prevent boredom when they have a small cage or no companionship, we recommend toys.

1. Balls – preferably hollow ones that they can climb into or throw around with their teeth.

2. Boxes – rabbits love to hide and any type of box that has an access point has an appeal to rabbits.

Common Health / Disease issues:

1.Teeth too long, facial injuries or misaligned teeth

    1. Rabbits teeth continuously grow and unless they have access to wood or bark to continuously chew and grind down their teeth, most rabbits will have overgrown molars leading to excessive chewing and obsessive behaviour. Tooth pain is not fun, it can also lead to lack in ability to eat.
    2. Always check their teeth, you may need to get to a specialist vet(exotic) to have them shortened.
    3. Always make sure your rabbit has access to wood or bark or a piece of sekelbos wood in their cage. Sekelbos is known as a hard wood, it is indigenous and known for its anti-inflammatory properties for animals.

2. Diarrhoea-is common to rabbits that are only fed one type of food component. It is essential that rabbits are fed in the rabbit food ratios above to ensure gut health. It is more common where large quantities foods high in sugar are fed like Lucerne, Iceberg salad, apples, bananas and only rabbit pellets. Diarrhoea is a precursor to flystrike.

3. Flystrike – where flies lay their eggs into predominately the bum area of the rabbit’s fur. The eggs hatch inside the warm wet fur (ideal conditions) and the resultant maggots start feeding on the live rabbits fur, skin and ultimately flesh. Flystrike is deadly within 24 hours if not treated immediately and seen early on.

4. Anorexia – can be a sign of poor care of your rabbit involving primarily its environment, food and stress handling.

Anorexia is caused by:

a. No access to water or a sudden change of diet within 24 hours

b. Obesity-a too high sugar-based diet

c. Dental disease- a too high sugar-based diet

d. Spinal deterioration or injury

5. Fleas – some rabbits may become prone to fleas. Proper care of their environment is key. Use flea combs and flea powder to combat the fleas or flea and mite spray.

6. Collapse – no movement/very little movement or spasms. Collapse can be caused by:

a. Chronic gut stasis

b. Anorexia

c. Injury

7. Gut stasis – means food stops moving through the gastrointestinal tract of the rabbit. This can be fatal. Common causes are:

a. Dehydration- rabbits drink an inordinate amount of water especially in summer. Always ensure there is an adequate fresh supply.

b. Low fibre diet – no hay in the rabbit’s diet leads to this.

c. Stress – from a too small constrained environment, being chased by a predator ie dog.

d. Pain from an injury or surgery

We offer boarding of rabbits at our store. Enquire more by phoning us!