General Rabbit Information

** The following information has been compiled using www.Vin.com
(the veterinary information network) and Lifelearn Inc. client information sheets**

Vital Statistics

Body Length: 6-12 inches
Body Weight: 2-20 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity: Males: 4-7 months, Females: 4-9 months - (Dwarf breeds mature at a younger age)
Average Life Span: 5 years (15yrs max)

Rabbit Nutrition

Rabbits are herbivores, which mean they only eat plant material. Herbivores need to eat constantly to keep their gastrointestinal tract (GI) moving and to avoid health problems such as gastric stasis. Commercial pelleted diets are widely available for rabbits and a pelleted diet with no seed mix is recommended "Oxbow Essentials", "Mazuri Rabbit Diet", and "ZuPreem Natureís Promise Premium Rabbit Food" is available in most pet stores. Rabbits younger than 6 months should have unlimited access to pellets, and older rabbits should be offered 2-3 tablespoons of pellets a day per every 5 pounds of body weight. Rabbits also need unlimited access to good quality hay such as timothy, orchard, or brome; hays such as alfalfa are too "rich" for adult rabbits and should be limited in quantities as a treat. Your rabbit should also get a mix of fresh vegetation daily (4 tablespoons per 5 pounds of body weight), basically a good handful. It is important to introduce new food slowly and monitor your petís feces. Good choices for Vegetation
Romaine Lettuce
Kale
Bok Choy
Mustard greens
Carrot tops
Parsley
Cilantro
Watercress
Basil
Carrots
Broccoli
Green peppers
Brussel sprouts
Endive
Wheat grass
Radicchio
Squash
Dandelion leaves
Mesclun mix
Grass clippings

Water
Your rabbit should have 24 hour access to fresh water. Most rabbit owners prefer to use a sip bottle so the rabbit cannot get food or other material in the water. Just inspect the tip daily for any clogs. For the owners and rabbits that prefer to use a bowl make sure you use a heavy ceramic bowl that your rabbit cannot tip over and check it often for any debris.

Treats
Treats should be given in very limited quantities, no more than 1-2 tablespoons per 5 pounds of bodyweight every 1-2 days. Fruits and most commercial treats are very high in sugar and will upset your petís GI tract if given too much.

**Remember some vegetables are high in sugar as well and these should also be offered to your pet sparely (this includes carrots) **

Coprophagy
Coprophagy is a normal and healthy process for rabbits. Coprophagy means: to eat own feces. Most owners do not see this act because rabbits tend to do this at night or first thing in the morning. Coprophagy is an essential part of your rabbits diet, the smaller "night droppings" are high in vitamins B and K, therefore providing nutrients. If you do see your rabbit eating their stool just know it is a normal and essential behavior.

Housing

When it comes to finding a home for your rabbit the rule of thumb is "the bigger the better". It is better for your rabbitís feet for them to live on a solid surface, but a wire bottom cage is acceptable. If you do use a wire bottom cage for your rabbitís housing it is recommended that at least half of the cage be covered with a sold surface. Your rabbit should also have a quiet dark area for themselves; such as a hide box. This will keep them comfortable and give them a quiet place to sleep. Rabbits are also easily litter trained, similar to cats rabbits prefer to urinate and defecate in the same spot all the time. Everything in your rabbitís cage should be heavy enough that it cannot tip over or can be secured to the cage with clips. You should provide your rabbit with safe items for them to chew such as untreated wood, cardboard or rabbit safe wooden toys. Since rabbits are easily litter trained you can have them out of their cage with supervision. Make sure any room a rabbit is allowed to have free roam in is "rabbit proof"- meaning there are no wires they can chew on or holes and small places they can get into that you are not able to easily access them. Also make sure you have no valuables around since rabbits like to chew. They can easily damage wood or plastic products. Rabbitís urine has a very strong odor, so cleaning your petís cage often is important to keep a sanitary living environment for both you and your pet. The substrate in your petís cage should be fully changed at least once a week (it is important to not use cedar shavings in your petís cage since these are toxic to most small animals).

Cage Supplies

  • Large cage
  • Hide box
  • Litter box
  • Chew toys
  • Heavy water bowl or sipper bottle
  • Heavy food bowl
  • High quality rabbit pellets
  • High quality hay
  • Soft bedding such as wood shavings (not cedar)

Health

Rabbits have several health issues unique to them, the most common and easily life threatening issue is diarrhea. Rabbits are very prone to intestinal diseases causing GI upset, but the most common cause of GI upset is improper diet, either feeding the rabbit too many carbohydrates, or too low in fiber. It is recommended that your rabbit have at least an annual exam with one of our veterinarians, and also have your rabbitís stool checked for parasites at least once yearly. Anytime you notice your rabbit acting different, not eating or drinking normally they should be seen as soon as possible by one of our veterinarians. It is very important to remember that anytime you are holding your rabbit to support its back legs; rabbits can easily fracture their spines if they kick out with their back feet or land wrong when they jump out of your arms.

Symptoms to look for
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Sores on feet
  • Bald patches
  • Wheezing
  • Ocular or Nasal discharge
  • Change in eating or drinking behavior
Spaying or neutering
For your pet to have a longer healthier life it is recommended that you spay or neuter your rabbit. The recommended age to alter your pet is around 6 months of age, prior to your pet reaching sexual maturity.

Grooming
Similar to cats, rabbit are prone to hairballs. Unlike cats, rabbits are unable to vomit so they can develop an intestinal blockage from their hairballs. To help prevent hairballs as well as mats and "stool balls" it is important to brush your rabbit often. Make sure to check the specifics on your rabbit breed. Some breeds cannot be brushed with a regular comb because it will destroy their coat (example: mini rex). You should also cut your rabbitís nails often, if they are in a wire cage or allowed to have free roam of the house. It is even more important to keep your rabbitís nails short so they do not get their nails stuck in anything and rip them off. If you are not sure how to cut your petís nails please ask a member of our veterinary staff to show you.

**Please call the staff at Otterkill animal hospital if you have any questions about your pet, we are always happy to help, or set up an appointment with one of Our Veterinarians**