Rabbits can make wonderful pets - they are quiet, clean, inquisitive, entertaining and responsive.
Your rabbit will give you many years of companionship and rewarding pet ownership, if cared for properly.
The main keys to keeping your rabbit healthy are:
- feeding a correct diet that is high in fibre
- feeding small amounts of fresh vegetables
- ensuring the cage is clean and dry and the rabbit is not soiled
- allowing daily exercise
- having regular veterinary check-ups
- vaccinating your rabbit annually
- having your rabbit neutered (especially females)
At each health check-up make sure you discuss with your vet when to come back for your rabbit's next vaccination and ask for advice about flea control.
There are many unwanted rabbits in animal rescue and charity centers in need of a good home. Remember that these rabbits may have health or behavioural problems needing expert help and little may be known about their history, so it's best to seek advice from the centre before choosing your rabbit, to make sure this is the right rabbit for you. Rabbits can also be bought from pet stores or through breeders.
Don't be afraid to ask questions to ensure you make the right decision.
What to look for when choosing a rabbit:
- The rabbit should be alert, curious and inquisitive.
- The eyes and nose should be clear and free of any discharge that might indicate a respiratory infection.
- The rabbit's body should not be too thin or emaciated - run your hand along the backbone to check this.
- Check for any wetness or caking of droppings around the anus, which is abnormal.
- Look for the presence of parasites such as fleas and ear mites (ear mites cause the production of brown wax in the ears).
- If possible, examine the rabbit's mouth for broken or overgrown incisors (front teeth).
- Find out whether the rabbit has been spayed or castrated (most will not have been until they are approximately six months old).
- Ask whether the rabbit has been vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease
- Ask the shelter/seller if they offer any guarantee of health or return policy.
- Finally, find out what the rabbit is being fed on, as you do not want to introduce a sudden change of diet when you get it home - this may provoke gut disturbance and diarrhoea.