Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rabbits as Pets - House Rabbit Care

Caring for Pet Rabbits - Is it Easy?
'Stuffed bunny rabbits are so cute. So are real rabbits. How difficult
could it be to take care of just one rabbit. All that is required is
to give it something to eat, water to drink, and a big enough cage to
live in. An occasional cleaning of the cage, and that's it. This is
all that there is to rabbit care '.

These are the thoughts that come to mind to almost everyone who want
to keep rabbits as pets . The thought of such people are both - right
and wrong.

Right because maintaining a healthy pet rabbit is not at all
difficult. Wrong because unless you are aware of all the facts about
rabbit food, healthcare, the things you should and should not do,
things could really go wrong. With pet rabbits, it is the minor facts
that matter: what you feed them, the amount of exercise they get, even
how you carry and handle them.

Buying your Pet Rabbit
Once you have decided that you want a rabbit as a pet, there are a few
questions that you should answer.

Do I already have a pet that could pose a threat to the rabbit? (Dog, cat etc.)

What will it cost me to take care of the rabbit? (Cage, Food, the
occasional veterinarian expense etc.)

Are all the supplies that will be required available? (Mostly food requirements)

And finally, do I have the time to take proper care of the rabbit?

Once all these questions are answered in the positive, you should
decide on what color rabbit you want. Rabbits come in many colors -
snow white, beige shades, light brown to dark brown shades, shades of
gray, rabbits having a single color, rabbits with stripes, the
combinations are endless. The best solution is to visit your local pet
store and see what choices are available.

The rabbit decided, you must now decide on the cage. You should buy a
cage that allows the rabbit to stand up fully stretched on its hind
legs without any obstruction. The cage should be large enough to
accommodate the rabbit when it is fully stretched. Make sure that
there is extra space to accommodate a litter box, including space for
the feed and water. The cage must be easy to clean and indestructible.
A metal cage with a wire mesh floor is the most preferable choice. Not
only will this cage be indestructible, but very easy to clean too.

If you think that the major buying decisions (the rabbit and cage) are
over, you are mistaken. The most important part is still left out -
The Food. Yes, this is of utmost importance. The entire health and
well-being of the rabbit will depend on this. As you read the part on
feeding your rabbit, you will realize the importance of choosing the
proper food for your rabbit. Pet rabbits usually live 7 to 8 years,
but keeping your pet on the proper feed should ensure it lives 10 to
12 years. Pet rabbits have been known to live up to 15 years given the
proper care.

What are rabbits like?
Before buying a pet rabbit, many would have asked the question 'What
are rabbits like - a cat, a dog'? A pet rabbit is neither like a pet
cat nor a pet dog. Pet cats and dogs will take an immediate liking to
you and not be afraid of you. This will happen with a pet rabbit too,
but it will take much longer. Your pet dog or cat can be fed on a
variety of things including vegetables, fish, chicken, and meat,
making feeding them absolutely worry-free. Not the case with pet
rabbits. You try feeding them just about anything, and that will be
the end of your pet rabbit. Rabbits have got a very sensitive
gastrointestinal tract.

Rabbits are very affectionate, but could get really aggressive and
destructive at times. Many have got the misconception that a pet
rabbit can be picked up and cuddled just like the kids stuffed bunny
rabbit. In fact with pet rabbits it is just the opposite - even the
slightest mishandling of your pet rabbit could prove fatal. Treating
the rabbit gently is very important.

Making your new Pet Rabbit comfortable
When you get your new pet rabbit home, you must decide as to where the
cage will be placed. Make sure it is placed where it will not obstruct
your movement. The place should be well ventilated with a free flow of
fresh air. Place the cage as close to the ground as possible. Place
bedding made of straw in the cage so that the rabbit feels
comfortable. Remember that the cage is not a place to confine your
rabbit. It is more of a place where the rabbit will retire for the
night or whenever it is tired, or hungry. As far as possible do not
keep the door of the cage shut, always leave it open.

Problems that your pet could face if confined to the cage will include
a poor muscle tone because of no exercise, inflammation of the feet
due to sitting in one place constantly, could become very lethargic,
can be very aggressive at times, will become obese due to lack of any
exercise. Most of all it will not turn out to be the happy, jumping
about rabbit that you thought it would be.

A rabbit requires to be constantly active. Rabbits love jumping and
running around. This helps keep their bodies in shape, keep their
minds active and alert, and will help in eliminating a lot of sickness
that will be present if they are confined to the cage.

Proper diet for your Pet Rabbit
Proper care should be taken that you feed your pet rabbit the correct
diet. A little care taken by you in feeding your pet will go a long
way. It can ensure that your rabbit remains disease free, healthy,
active, and enjoys a lifespan of between 10 to 15 years.

Thanks to what we see on television (Bunny Rabbit etc.) we presume
that all rabbits enjoy are carrots. Not so. Rabbits are basically wild
animals, so carrots are very much non-existent in their natural diet.
Rabbits are herbivores and their primary diet consists of a variety of
grass and leaves. Wild rabbits also enjoy the seasonal flower or

One part of what their natural diet consists of, could be very
repulsive to some. All rabbits will eat grass etc. Part of this goes
into an intestinal tract known as the cecum, where it is converted
into small pellets that are soft and filled with nutrients. These soft
pellets are known as cecotropes and are eaten by the rabbit as they
are being excreted. This is easily digested and contain fatty acids,
vitamins and amino acids, which are all very important for the
well-being of the rabbit.

Your pet rabbits diet should consist primarily of hay. Always make
sure that there is enough hay in the rabbits cage. There are two types
of hay - grass and legume. Make sure that the hay you give your pet is
the grass variety. Meadow grass which is naturally sun dried is the
best. Find out where you can have easy access to such grass/hay. It
will be required throughout the life of the rabbit. Always make sure
that the hay that you feed your rabbit is dry and fresh. The hay
should never be damp and of dull color.

Do not worry about the rabbit spoiling its teeth with the constant
chewing and munching of this hay. Rabbit teeth grow constantly,
eliminating the possibility of teeth destruction.

Wild rabbits gorge on green grass and fresh leaves, so your pet should
also get its fair share of greens. Along with hay, greens are a vital
part of the rabbits diet because they will provide all the nutrients
that hay provides, but in addition fresh greens will provide the
rabbit with water. Yes, the rabbit will have permanent access to fresh
drinking water, but you can't force the rabbit to drink. When the
rabbit consumes greens they are also getting a sure supply of water.
Good options are broccoli, cabbage, celery, and most of the greens
that are dark in color. Occasionally feed your rabbit fruits such as
pineapple, pear, peach, papaya, and any of the sweet berries. Special
treats could include edible flowers such as roses and lilies.

As far as possible stay away from commercially available rabbit food.
These foods are usually packed with starch and fat. They are made to
the rabbits taste, so that the rabbit enjoys eating it. What will
result is a rabbit that grows plump very fast. Many would think that
this is very good, but just the opposite. Unwanted fat is accumulating
in your chubby looking rabbit. Many nutrients present in natural food
may not be present in commercial food. No doubt, your rabbit will look
cute and chubby for some time, but sooner or later it will begin to
suffer. A plump fat rabbit is not a healthy rabbit. Healthy rabbits
are those that have a strong muscular tone with minimal fat. The
proper diet with enough exercise ensures this.

The proper diet will not only ensure that your rabbit is in the peak
of health, but also reduce your veterinary bills.

Lifting your Pet Rabbit
Your pet rabbit is not a cuddly stuffed toy rabbit. You can't treat it
the way you would your toy rabbit. Rabbits have very fragile
backbones. Never pick up your rabbit so that its hind legs are left
dangling. The rabbit might kick violently, possibly fracturing its
backbone. Make sure that this does not happen, because the only
solution if this happens is to put the rabbit to 'sleep'. Never lift
the rabbit by its ears. It is very painful for the rabbit, just like
it would pain you if someone tried to lift you by the ears.

The best way to lift your rabbit is to put one hand below its hind
legs for support and the other below its chest and then lift it. The
entire weight of the rabbit must be supported by your hands.

As far as possible avoid small children from picking up the rabbit.
They tend to get a bit excited and might cause unintentional harm to
the very rabbit they want to care for. If they insist on carrying the
rabbit around, please get them well trained in the technique of
lifting the rabbit.

When to visit the veterinarian
If you feed your rabbit with the correct diet and allow it to exercise
enough, the veterinarian is someone you may never have to visit.

Always watch out for abnormal behavior in your rabbit. If you notice
something different, it may be time to take your pet to the
veterinarian. This may include a sudden loss in appetite, a sudden
weight loss, suddenly wanting to be confined to the cage, extremely
aggressive behavior, and just about anything that may seem abnormal.
If you notice that your rabbit has diarrhea (not very common in
rabbits), do not wait. Your pet requires medical attention

Your rabbit is not as hardy as a cat or a dog. Do not wait for the
symptoms to subside when you see one. If you are not sure of what it
is, at least call the veterinarian. Based on the symptoms he will let
you know the urgency.

Buy your pet rabbit from a reputed pet shop. Always keep the cage open
and try to place it where there is a good flow of fresh air. Always
keep the cage clean, with a sufficient stock of fresh food and water.
Be very careful while lifting and handling your rabbit. Take your pet
rabbit to the veterinarian as soon as you notice the slightest change
in its behavior.

Following all this will allow you to have a bunny good time with your
pet rabbit!

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