Thursday, December 31, 2009

Neutering Rabbits

Rabbits become adolescent from 10-12 weeks of age, and at this time they tend to become moody and restless. They start to become more aggressive towards other rabbits and people, and also become less reliable where litter training is concerned. Both males and females may treat a family member of the opposite sex as a surrogate mate, following and circling that person and trying to mate their arms or legs. In male rabbits, courtship can include nipping the surrogate mate.
Neutering is one of the best things you can do for your rabbit. It will ease or illuminate these problems without changing your rabbit’s personality. Your bunny will not realize that anything has changed but the pet will become happier and more relaxed. Neutered rabbits are easier to litter train and their urine and droppings will become less smelly.
Female rabbits should be neutered when they reach 5-6 months old and male bunnies can be neutered as soon as the testicles have descended at around 3-4 months of age. Spaying your female rabbit is extremely important because as many as 85% of adult does die of reproductive cancers if they are not neutered.
It is important to realize that the changes in behavior associated with sexual maturity do not suddenly disappear - female rabbits take a couple of months to generally calm down, and male bunnies may continue to spray for a few months after being neutered. Not all aggression is caused by hormones, a rabbit that has become aggressive due to cruelty or mistreatment will not be cured by surgery, but will need a lot of time and affection before it can trust its new carers.
Neutering is particularly important if you have more than one rabbit. It will of course prevent unwanted pregnancy, and make it possible for two rabbits to live happily together. A neutered pair of bunnies can form a strong bond and often spend a lot of time huddling together and grooming each other. Two bunnies who have grown together (even siblings) can suddenly become hostile and very aggressive towards each other. This can result in serious injury to one or both of the rabbits, and them losing the bond they had forever. Neutering both rabbits can prevent this happening, providing it is done early enough. Neutering after the event may help but there is no guarantee that their friendship will be restored.
Many facets of your rabbit’s sexuality will remain post neutering, but in a gentler more subdued form. The extent of the sexual activity really depends on your rabbit’s personality before neutering. Many neutered rabbits retain a certain amount of sexual interest and may continue some courting behavior - a spayed doe is more tolerant of a buck’s advances than an un-spayed doe will be. Some rabbits lose all interest in sexual activity but their need for cuddles and affection, from humans and play mates alike, remains the same.

Litter Types For Rabbits

Meadow hay/straw: This is one of the cheapest and most readily available litter, but you must line the bottom of the tray with a thick layer of newspaper. It can be used to encourage rabbits to eat more hay and straw, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. It is easy to clean as when the litter is soiled you can simply roll up the paper and throw it away. This type of litter tends to be a bit messy so should be used with a high sided litter box or a plastic dog bed/storage box to keep it contained. The sharp seed husks of barley straw can cause injury to the rabbit’s paws, so you need to shake them out before putting it in the litter box. Make sure the hay and straw are dust extracted so they do not contain mites or mould.
Dried grass: This can be used as a litter, it is more nutritious than straw and hay but it is also quite expensive.
Chopped barley straw: This is similar in consistency and appearance to wood shavings and it is a bit messy for indoor use. The small particles may also irritate the rabbit’s eyes and respiratory system.
Pelleted straw litter: This litter is absorbent, breaks down when wet and can be easily disposed of in the garden. The litter has a natural fragrance which helps disguise the smell of urine.
Peat/garden soil: This is quite am absorbent litter, but it looks a bit ’dirty’ indoors. It also tends to cling to the bunnies fur and falls off around the house, so it is quite messy. Rabbits love to dig and roll about in compost so it is best kept in a large tray in the garden.
Corncob litter: This litter is fairly absorbent and has a pleasant smell. However it may be tasty to your bunny resulting in weight gain from eating it, and it is very expensive. Like other organic litters it can become mouldy so the tray needs to be cleaned on a regular basis (mould is toxic to rabbits).
Recycled paper litter: Like the brands made for cats, this litter is available in flakes and pellets. It is dust free, light weight and absorbent but make sure your bunny does not ingest large amounts. Recycled paper should not become mouldy.
Shredded newspaper: This litter is not very absorbent, but it is adequate providing your bunny does not chew on it. Plain newspaper is not recommended as it is not very absorbent, and the bunny may step on the urine, resulting in splash back and leading to urine burn.
Paper pulp bedding: This is a natural litter made from reclaimed wood fibres that are too short to be used in paper production. This litter is very absorbent and has good odour control. It is light weight and easy to carry. It does not contaminate wounds, therefore is ideal for post operative care, rabbits suffering from sore hocks, sensitive skin, etc. It is sanitised to kill bacteria, mould and fungus so it will not harm your rabbit if ingested. Its has no added inks, dyes or chemicals, unlike recycled paper litters. The paper wont scratch floors, it can be vacuumed up, flushed, composted and is biodegradable.
Clumping cat litter: This is not recommended for rabbits. It is generally made of a substance called sodium benotine, a naturally swelling clay. When liquid is added it expands to approximately 15 times its original volume. As bunnies are very clean animals, if it is ingested it swells in the stomach forming a mass and lining in the digestive tract. This causes dehydration both by drawing fluids from the rabbit and preventing the absorption of nutrients and other liquids. As a result the bunny may develop diarrhoea (in an attempt to cleanse her system), an internal blockage or even die.
Other cat litters: Non clumping, dust-free cat litters and a safer choice for your rabbit. They are lighter than ordinary clay and are available from pet shops and supermarkets.

Litter Training Rabbits

It is important to fill your rabbits litter box with an absorbent, non-toxic litter. Most bunnies will try and chew their litter or will ingest some during grooming. If the litter is not absorbent then the rabbit is at risk of urine burn caused by splash back of the urine. Avoid softwood and clumping clay litters that can be harmful to your rabbit. It is advisable to try lots of different litters to see what your rabbit likes best. As most rabbits enjoy rolling and digging in their litter boxes use a soft litter if you bunny is prone to sore hocks or spends a lot of time in the tray. Other things to consider are if your rabbit chews the litter, in this case you are better to use an organic litter, but change frequently to avoid mould. Even so you do not want you bunny to ingest a large amount of litter so if your bunny finds it very tasty, then try another variety. Light weight litter is easier to use but it tends to track more. Also if your rabbit likes to pull the tray around the room it is better to use a heavier litter or secure the tray to a piece of furniture.
Litter training your pet bunny
Rabbits, in general are very clean animals - in the wild they only use certain places to relive themselves and don't soil inside their warrens. Pet bunnies also tend to toilet in just one or a few places, and are easy to house train.
Some rabbits litter train themselves, however most need a little encouragement from their owners. Rabbits usually learn to urinate in a litter tray but will still scatter a few faeces around. This is normal rabbit behaviour and the droppings are easy to pick up and discard and can also be vacuumed.
Rabbits can be litter trained from a few weeks of age. However rabbits over a year old are easier to train especially if they have been neutered. Neutering is very important if your bunny lives in the house. When a rabbit is growing she becomes very restless and territorial marking with urine and droppings will increase. Even litter trained rabbits will start urinating outside their trays and this may happen every spring if she hasn't been neutered. Neutering will make your bunny more reliably trained and also reduce or prevent spraying.
To litter train your bunny you will need to start with at least one litter tray. Buy one with low sides for a baby or small rabbit, for a larger rabbit get a big litter tray like the ones used for dogs, or take the bottom pan from a bird cage.
You should get your rabbit used to the litter tray from day one, this means having a few litter trays ready fro when your bunny comes home. If you have more than one tray it will increase the chances of your rabbit getting things right. Later you can remove the trays your rabbit uses less frequently.
Put a litter tray in the rabbit’s pen or near the bed and another one in the corner of the room. Put a few pellets in the tray and a piece of urine-soaked tissue in the tray(s). This will give your rabbit the scent, helping her get the idea. Make sure you show your rabbit where the tray(s) are. If she hops in give her lots of praise. Otherwise, herd her gently towards the tray or entice her in with a tit bit.
Rabbits are more likely to go in the tray if you make it a more attractive place to be. Leave a handful of or your rabbit’s food dish in one corner. Experiment with different types of litter to find the one your bunny prefers. Many rabbits enjoy digging and rolling in their trays or even sleeping in them. This behaviour should be encouraged because if your rabbit enjoys being in the tray she is more likely to mark it with her urine and droppings.
In the beginning it's a good idea to watch your rabbit during her free-running time so if she starts urinating in the wrong places you can hopefully break the habit before it becomes established. If you see your bunny pushing her bottom and tail out, she is probably about to urinate. If she is in the tray wait until she has finished and give her lot

Facts About Rabbits

Never pick your bunny up by its ears.
Never give your bunny human treats such as chocolate, etc
Hay and veggies make up the base of your bunny’s diet.
Make sure your bunny’s cage is large enough for him to move about freely.
Your bunny’s cage should have a water bottle or dish, a food dish, a litter pan (unless he lives outdoors), and some toys to play with.
Make sure your bunny has plenty of fresh water available at all times.
Bunnies love and need to chew, so make sure that a chew treat is provided to them.
Bunnies are known to through temper tantrums...due in part to his creative show his frustration when he can’t get things just right.
Bunnies require lots of love and affection each day.
Always control the body and legs of your bunny when picking him up...they usually will not struggle if they feel safe.
Apple tree branches can be eaten fresh off the tree, but avoid cherry, peach, apricot, plum and redwood branches for they are all toxic to your bunny.
The best toy a rabbit can ask for is "you."
Time and patience are the two most important keys to bonding with your new pet bunny.
Never leave your bunny unprotected from predators.
Do not adopt a bunny until it has been weaned from its least 8 weeks old.
A baby bunny is called a kit.
A healthy rabbit will have a bright eyed expression and soft, shiny fur.
Your rabbit’s cage should be cleaned regularly.
Don’t place your bunny’s cage in excessive heat or cold.
Your bunny taught to use a litter box...purr with its trained to walk on a leash...jump up to approximately 3 feet highly affectionate and loyal
The size of your rabbit will determine the amount of feed to give him.
Pelleted rabbit feed should make up only a small portion of your rabbits diet.
Avoid over feeding your bunny.

Caring For Rabbits

As with any pet, keeping a rabbit requires a commitment to care for it during its life which could be 5-10 years or longer. The commitment required in caring for a rabbit includes not only routine feeding, care and time spent with the rabbit but also the provision of veterinary treatment if the rabbit becomes ill which can be costly. Although proper care will go a long way to ensuring that any rabbit remains happy and healthy there may still be times when prompt veterinary treatment is needed and once a rabbit is ill it can deteriorate quickly. However, some insurance companies do offer veterinary insurance cover for pet rabbits.
Caring for a rabbit should also include annual vaccinations against Viral Haemorrhagic Diseasel(VHD) and Myxomatosis annually.
A common cause of death in female rabbits (does) is uterine cancer which can often spread to other organs before it is diagnosed. This can be prevented by spaying if the rabbit is not intended for breeding and is best done when the rabbit is between 6 months and 2 years of age.
Rabbits can be kept outside or indoors as they make good house pets, being easily litter trained.The decision as to where the rabbit is to be kept will affect the type of Cage or Hutch required for the rabbit.

Pet Rabbits

The domestic pet rabbit is available in many different breeds and colours ranging greatly in size. Rabbits are sociable pets appreciating the company of other rabbits and enjoy human companionship.

History Of Rabbits
The domestication history of rabbits.
Scientific Classification Of Rabbits
The scientific classification of pet rabbits within the Mammalia class.
Anatomy Of Rabbits
Biological facts about pet rabbits.
Behaviour Of Rabbits
Rabbit behaviour and communication.
Rabbit Breeds
A list of rabbit breeds linked to their breed profiles.

Rabbits World

Rabbits are mammals which belong to the Lagomorph order that also includes hares and pikas (Lagomorph means 'hare-shaped'). They are similar to rodents in that they have incisor teeth that continually grow.
Rabbits form the Family Leporidae under which there are over 50 species. The rabbit species widely kept as a pet is Oryctolagus cuniculus and within this species various breeds have been developed by enhancing different characteristics through selective breeding.
Rabbits are herbivores (plant eating) and have a high reproduction rate. They have long ears, powerful hind legs with long feet and a short, furry, upturned tail.
Rabbits are most most active at dawn and dusk and often nap during the day.