The first week of June is usually Rabbit Awareness Week in the UK, where we shine a special focus on bunny health and wellbeing.
If you already have bunnies or are considering them as a pet, it is important to familiarise yourself with all rabbits basic needs.
1 – Diet
A rabbits diet should consist of:
- 85% fresh hay and grass. As a general rule, your rabbit should consume its own size in hay or grass every day. While fresh grass is the best option, we also recommend good quality dry hay such as Timothy or Meadow hay. You can buy this online or from pet shops, but do make sure that it is free of grit, dust and damp.
- 10% fresh washed vegetables and herbs. See a full list of safe and recommended options compiled by Rabbit Welfare UK here.
- 5% of supplementary rabbit nuggets. The best quality you can afford, and remember to follow the instructions on the bag when feeding. Rabbit muesli, pellets or nuggets should never be given as a substitute to hay or grass.
- Rabbits should always have access to fresh clean drinking water.
2 – Accomodation
All rabbits require a safe, secure and clean home and daily access to a large run. Unfortunately, most shop-bought hutches are not large enough for bunnies however many bunny owners opt to make their own from converted sheds or playhouses.
Your rabbit’s hutch should:
- Be at least 2 feet high, 2 feet wide and 6 feet long.
- Wide enough for them to lie down and stretch out in all directions as well as be able to allow for at least three full hops.
- Tall enough so they can stand up on their hind legs without their ears touching the top.
- Be secure enough to keep them safe from wild predators (such as foxes, badgers or cats).
- Be kept off the ground and weatherproofed.
- Allow for sleeping, eating and toilet areas to be kept separate.
Remember rabbits in the wild have a large territory, and though we may not be able to provide them with a whole field to roam in, we should allow them as much space as we possibly can.
3 – Company
Rabbits are social animals and should always be kept in bonded pairs or groups. Rabbits require the company of other rabbits for confidence, grooming, security, stimulation and overall happiness.
If you have a lone rabbit and need to find them a companion, there are many wonderful bunny rehoming organisations in Scotland who will help you find a suitable partner for your bunny and will be able to advise on effective bonding techniques.
5 – Stimulation/Enrichment
Rabbits are very intelligent animals and it is important that they are provided with mental and physical stimulation. There are many ways which this can be provided and owners are very creative when coming up with new ways to enrich their bunny’s day.
Some suggestions for enrichment include:
- Regular company with other rabbits
- Having suitable objects to play with a chew
- Hiding treats in toys or their environment for them to find
- Areas for them to dig, mark, run or forage for food
- Provision of new tunnels and hideaways
6 – Veterinary Care
Like any animal, rabbits require ongoing care and may develop various illnesses throughout their lives. It is important to register your rabbit with a vet so that you have someone to call if you are ever concerned about changes to their behaviour, physical condition or eating and drinking habits.
We strongly recommend all rabbit owners consider vaccinating their rabbit annually to protect them from Myxomatosis and Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease.
Owners should also be aware of their rabbit’s required exercise, handling and dietary needs, as well and neutering and parasite control.
There is an excellent, detailed guide for rabbit health and care on the government website: https://www.gov.scot/publications/pet-rabbit-welfare-guidance/pages/8/
Rabbits are wonderful pets and companions. More information about caring for bunnies can be found here:
If you are thinking of bringing bunnies into your home, there are many wonderful rehoming centres in the UK that we would strongly recommend you consider as a first option.
And of course, please phone us if you ever need any advice about your rabbit’s health! 💙🐰