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Some-bunny is thinking of you this Easter!

27th March 2017

 Dear easipetcare friends,

Spring has sprung and soon the most famous bunny of all is about to skip, hop and jump into our back gardens! But of course I’m not talking about Roger Rabbit, Thumper or Bugs Bunny (to name a few!) but the most egg-citing hare of all…. The Easter Bunny!

That’s why I want to give you some tippity-toppity facts about our beloved small furries! Rabbits are commonly considered a good first pet for young children but un-fur-tunately many young pawrents soon find out that they actually require a lot of attention and looking after… so make sure you’re prepared before welcoming a new bundle of fluff into your life!

House Rabbits

House rabbits are a great way to get the most from your pet. They can live cage-free in houses and be trained to poo in a litter tray just like cats! By having your rabbits in your house you can interact with them all the time and really get to know the love of a bunny 😉

There are some important points to note about house rabbits…
1. Most rabbits love to chew! Protect all cables with cable tidies or by placing a panel across wire and plug points to be inaccessible.
2. As rabbits are easily susceptible to stress, house rabbits are best in a calm house with no young children.

There are lots of other great tips for keeping your bunny happy and healthy – see our checklist at the end of this blog!

Looking for some ideas to keep your fur-friend entertained? Look no further!

Boredom Busters

  • Fill a toilet roll tube with hay and couple of treats inside.
  • Give your bunny a large tube to run through, hide in and chew!
  • Rope toys are great for a rabbit to pick up in their mouths and throw around.
  • Willow balls. Willow toys can be thrown around and then eaten
  • Apple branches and sticks to chew on.
  • Cardboard boxes with holes cut out to run through and hide in. (make sure it hasn’t been used for any chemical /cleaner storage which could make your bunny sick.)

Rabbit Behaviour

Rabbits don’t like being held much, and usually only on their own terms! Getting on the floor and interacting on his level will allow your bunny to trust you and start a great friendship. Through time, he’ll want to be with you and approach you to play rather than you approaching him. As rabbits don’t make much noise it’s difficult to know how he’s feeling, but there are some signs:

  • Binky: Jumping up in the air and twisting. Bunny is super excited and happy.
  • Grunting: Bunny is not happy with you. Back off!
  • Running circles around your feet: Bunny loves you and wants you to know this. If you see this, get down on the floor and reward with lots of stroking.
  • Honking: Virtually inaudible noise but this is the best noise you can hear. Bunny is saying I love you and wants to have a cuddle.
  • Tooth purring: you’ll commonly hear this while bunny is relaxed and he’s grinding his teeth. This means he’s very happy and content.
  • Tooth grinding: if bunny is fully alert, eyes wide open and you hear him grinding his teeth this could mean he’s in pain. Take him to the vet ASAP.
  • Turning his back on you: He doesn’t want to interact with you at the moment. Maybe you’ve upset him, maybe he just wants alone time but give him some space.

Natural Dominance

In rabbit society, there is always an “alpha”. When paired together, whether males with females, males with males or females with females, one rabbit will need to show dominance over the other. This can manifest itself in nipping each other, mounting each other, and full blown running around biting, boxing and fur flying!! But if you get your bunny neutered then most of these characteristics will die down. Some aggression can remain but please feel free to talk to our vets for great rabbit/bunny behavioural advice!

Aggression

The most common reasons for aggression are fear, natural dominance and pain.
Fear: Most fear is as a result of a lack of handling or a bad experience. They say elephants never forget – well neither do rabbits! If your rabbit shows fear aggression you can re-train them by increased handling- although this does take time and effort! Always make sure you approach a rabbit from the side so they can see you. Approaching from the front or back they may not see you and be surprised by your sudden touch and strike out in fear. If your rabbit has a history of nipping, approach him slowly with a clenched fist before you try to stroke him. Then slowly unfurl to stroke his head only until trust has been built up.
Spending time with your rabbit in normal conditions will help you to understand when he’s not acting as usual. Increased aggression is one of the ways you may spot him acting out of character.

Neutering

We recommend neutering males at 5/6 months old. Once adult, males will often spray their territory with urine. Benefits of castrating males are reduced aggression and the spraying should stop.
We recommend spaying females also at 5/6 months old. Once adult, females have up to 80% chance of incurring uterine cancer. Benefits of spaying females are reduced aggression and vastly reduced risk of cancer.

Nutrition

Rabbits need lots and lots of fresh hay and clean water. Make sure that you re-fill hay and water every day, it should be endless!
A handful of veggies each day is enough but no lettuce and only part of a carrot. You can also feed a tiny amount of fruit (bananas/strawberries) as a weekly treat.
Good quality nuggets. Only a small amount is needed once a day. Use the dosage chart on the side of the pack for your size rabbit. Rabbit muesli is not recommended as it’s like junk food for rabbits and their weight will quickly pile on. Rule of thumb: If the food is all brown, it should be good for bunny. If it’s a mixture of colours it’s probably best to avoid!
And of course their own poop! Rabbits have a special poop in the morning that looks like small brown bubbles stringed together and that smells very strongly! This is packed full of their gut bacteria and is essential for their gut health that they re-digest it to replenish stocks. They will also eat the odd hard brown pellet too – don’t be alarmed!

General Rabbit Checks To Do:

    • Clean bunny’s cage at least twice a week. Rabbits are very clean animals and no-one likes living in their own mess.
    • While cleaning the cage check that their “mess” looks normal. Small hard brown pellets, light yellow wee. Occasionally a rabbit’s urine will be bright yellow/orange, almost like it has blood in it. Don’t be alarmed if you see this once every couple of weeks, but any more common, or if you see odd poop, or if there are other symptoms, take him to the vet.
    • Change water and re-fill hay daily.
    • Once a week we recommend that you check your bunny’s bottom. If there is poop clumped to it this is an ideal place for flies to lay their eggs. Once laid, the larvae will eat their way through to the bunny himself and eat on his flesh. ;-( This is called fly-strike. By keeping your bunny’s cage clean and giving him lots of exercise you should be able to avoid this, but if you see poop, clean him up and if some remains or the bottom looks different take him to the vet immediately.
    • Rabbits should be annually vaccinated against VHD and Myxomatosis with more rural bunnies having a Myxy booster after 6 months. There is a new strain of VHD called RVHD2 which has very recently been identified in the UK, vaccinations for this strain are now available from your local easipetcare vet.
    • In Summer, a bottle of frozen water covered in a towel can be placed in the rabbit’s hutch / pen to keep him cool. Also ensure he has access to shade at all times so he doesn’t over heat.
    • In Winter, cover outside hutches with thick tarpaulin or draught excluders. Warm plates can be placed in the rabbits sleeping area under the paper to keep him warm, or if you don’t have an electricity supply, a bottle of warm water can again be used for him to snuggle up to. Always ensure his sleeping area is packed full of hay/straw for warmth.

If you haven’t had enough of the curious habits of bunny rabbits then why not read more about loving your twitchy-nosed pet!

Wishing you a hoppin’ good Easter!

Best wishes,

Judy.xxx

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