WE INTRODUCE YOU TO THE RABBIT!
Rabbits are one of the most popular pets and that's no wonder because they are very nice pets! Rabbits are active, intelligent and social animals that should always be kept together. Rabbits kept together can show their natural social behavior which is wonderful to see. They take care of each other, play with each other and really seek each other out for attention. It is very nice to see how they interact with each other!
Bunnies often don't like to be picked up, having all four paws on the ground is definitely their preference. But when it comes to petting, things are quite different, most bunnies love that. Some bunnies also actively ask for attention from their owner!
Rabbits belong to the lagomorph family. You would think that a rabbit is a rodent, but that is actually not the case at all! The reason why the rabbit is not a rodent is the two extra pin teeth that can be found behind the upper incisors. Rodents do not have these two teeth.
Furthermore, rabbits naturally have their beautiful long ears which stand or hang. The rabbit's hind legs are strongly muscled and well developed for pushing off, making them extremely fast and agile in their movements.
The wild rabbit has gray-brown fur and a light underbelly.
Rabbits live on average between 8 and 10 years.
RABBITS IN NATURE
You've probably seen them in the wild. Bunnies sprinting across a meadow and quickly darting into their hole. Rabbits live in large groups in the wild. They prefer to be in grassland, dunes and heathlands. They mark their territory with droppings, pees and they also have a scent gland under their chin. They rub objects with the scent gland and thus release a scent for other rabbits. Rabbits live in a strict hierarchy, which means that they have a hierarchy among themselves.
The animals dig burrows and corridors with multiple exits. Rabbits spend quite a lot of time above ground eating, running and playing, among other things. At noon, however, it is a bit of rest, because then rabbits like to take a nap. They prefer to do this together and in the meantime they also like to take care of each other's fur.
Even if we would love to show them all... we would be short of pages... because there are more than 50 different rabbit breeds! The differences are not only in the colours, but also in the construction. There are rabbits with lop ears, small dwarf bunnies such as the 1.5 kg colored dwarf and large Flemish Giants that can weigh up to 8 kg. When it comes to rabbits, the choice is truly huge! There are often big differences in behaviour. It is also often the case that the smaller breeds are a bit spicier than their larger counterparts. Pools, for example, are known for being very bright.
HOUSING OF RABBITS
There is so much to tell about rabbit housing! But we try to keep it as short and concise as possible. As mentioned, rabbits are group animals and should always be kept together with at least two animals. Rabbits really need space to run and play. In addition, the rabbits must always be able to stand upright in their enclosure.
Most rabbit breeds can be kept both indoors and outdoors. For a Teddy Dwarf bunny, the damp and cold conditions outside may not be very pleasant and for a Flemish Giant there may be a lack of space in the living room.
Rabbits generally do not tolerate temperature differences well. It is therefore wise to slowly let rabbits get used to the outdoor climate indoors in the spring or early summer. It is not wise for outdoor rabbits to keep bringing them indoors in the winter. The temperature differences in winter between the living room and the garden can be immense, which can make the rabbit sick. Rabbits that always live outside put on a winter coat in the winter. This fluffy, thick undercoat protects the animals from the cold, but it is still important to provide the rabbits with enough straw or other bedding so that they can bury themselves nice and warm.
Whether rabbits live indoors or outdoors, they all need space. In addition to a stay, it is therefore good to offer the rabbits a run at all times where they can move freely and even run a bit or act crazy :) A nice tip is to place the outside run partly on the tiles so that the bunnies' nails can wear out. In addition, a sandbox is also very nice. Some people use the blue children's sandbox shell as a rabbit sandbox... they really like to dig! You should always be careful with an outdoor run that the rabbits do not dig under the run. In addition, everything must be well closed so that no predators can get to the rabbits.
The size of the outdoor enclosure strongly depends on the type of rabbit and the number of rabbits. 160 x 50 x 50 cm is a good start for two dwarf rabbits. The best thing would be if the run is linked to the enclosure and that the bunnies can enter the run freely. A good size for a run is 4 m 2 for two dwarf rabbits. For the larger rabbits of 2 kg, at least 220 x 80 x 60 cm for the enclosure and a run of at least 5 m 2 . An indoor run can sometimes be a challenge, that's okay. In that case, let the animals roam freely around the room for a few hours a day so that they can run and play. Of course always under supervision and take measures against gnawed power cables! It must be safe for them.
HOUSES FOR RABBITS
Every rabbit hutch must not be in a draft, in front of the window, near the heating, in the sun or the wind. If the bunnies are allowed to roam freely through the room, the cables should preferably be hidden in cable ducts and poisonous plants should go out to another room or a place where the bunnies can't reach them. Sometimes you don't realize that our houseplants can be really dangerous for the animals. For example, consider the
A first layer of bedding such as: Corn grains, cotton, paper, cardboard, hemp fiber is well suited for outdoor rabbits. On top of it should be a layer of straw. Be picky when it comes to sawdust. Sawdust that is too dusty can irritate the animals' respiratory tract.
Rabbits are clean animals and housebroken too! They prefer to relieve themselves in one fixed place in the house and preferably in a corner. So keep the corners of the accommodation free, especially in the beginning. As soon as you find out in which corner the rabbits have made their toilet, place a rabbit toilet there. To help the rabbits with toilet training, it is advisable to put the droppings that the rabbits leave in other places in the toilet, especially in the beginning. That way, the animals know quickly enough what the intention is. In a large rabbit hutch with a run, you can also omit the bedding and choose to only use bedding in the toilet. This saves money and helps the animals even better with toilet training!
NB! Never use clump-forming cat litter! This can cause blockages in the intestines if eaten.
THE RABBIT HOUSE
Finally, the rabbit house should not be missing from the accommodation. Rabbits like to be able to withdraw their sight. They like to do this by lying under or in something. A house gives them the peace they need to take their afternoon nap. A night hutch is sufficient for the outdoor rabbits.
RABBIT HANDLING AND CARE
To pet? Gladly! Lift? No thanks!
It is good to know that most rabbits do not like to be picked up. If you take this into account when dealing with the animals, they will appreciate it! Rabbits that are really anxious can bite when picked up or start floundering with their hind legs very hard. This can cause them to scratch and hurt you, but even worse they can even break their backs if they struggle too hard! If you do pick up your rabbit, you have to do it very carefully, keeping your hind legs in place.
LIFT RABBIT THIS IS HOW WE DO
The head should be facing you so the rabbit can see you. Then put one hand around his ass and slide your other hand under his chest. You can now lift the rabbit and lay it against you, preferably with its head under your arm. This way you have a stable hold on the rabbit and he feels safe because he is lying against your body.
A rabbit that struggles a lot or is not used to being picked up and reacts wildly can best be picked up in the following way: To pick up the rabbit as safely as possible, it is best to grab the skin between the shoulder blades. Not to be confused with the skin in the net, that is not necessary, really between the shoulder blades and with the other hand under the butt you can pick up the rabbit and place it against your body again.
NB! Never pick up a rabbit by its ears. This is sometimes depicted on cartoons, but is unfriendly and painful for the animals.
Especially during the moulting period, some rabbits need thorough brushing! The short-haired rabbits need to be brushed in particular when they are moulting. The long-haired rabbits should always be brushed regularly because their fur gets tangled easily. Preventing tangles is much more pleasant for you and your rabbit than fixing them! A comb and soft brush are ideal for brushing rabbits. During the daily cuddling session you can check the fur with your hands for tangles, if you feel one, grab it immediately to prevent worse. Don't forget the butt and tail, the fur often gets tangled there too. Be careful with the tail.
It can sometimes be an advantage to trim long-haired rabbit breeds once every two months. You can do this yourself with special rabbit scissors or have it done by a rabbit trimmer. Pay attention to the face and be well informed about how short you can cut the fur. If you cut the fur too short or incorrectly, fur problems can arise.
CUT NAILS ON RABBITS
The rabbit's nails should be checked regularly and if they are too long they should be clipped. There are special rabbit nail scissors for this. Be careful not to cut into the nail life. This is the part of the nail through which the blood vessels and nerves run. It is very painful if you cut this! With light rabbit nails you can see life running through the nail, cut the nail above that. With dark colored nails life is almost invisible, you can then use the fur line as a guideline. If you are afraid of trimming the nails yourself, visit a rabbit groomer or the vet. These people can show you how to do it so that you can do it yourself later!
RABBIT HOUSE CLEAN
How often you have to clean the coop depends very much on how you have set it up and which bedding you use. For example, if you do not have a floor covering, but only a toilet, you will be ready quickly and you only have to change the toilet every few days. Clean the drinking bottle regularly and watch out for algae growth. This can be done both indoors and outdoors. There are special thermo covers that prevent algae growth in the drinking bottle. For outdoor rabbits it is very important to keep the hutch hygienic so that no flies are drawn to it. Use safe cleaning agents and rinse cleaned parts well with water.
A rabbit is a herbivore, which means herbivore. Rabbits therefore need vegetable food with a lot of fiber. The best source of fiber is hay . Therefore, always give your rabbit enough hay. A good measure is to give a tuft of hay a day that is the same size as the rabbit itself. Both hay and straw contain fiber, but straw has almost no nutritional value, so hay is always preferred.
Grass and vegetables also contain a lot of fiber, but before the rabbit can eat this, it must get used to this food. Build this up slowly. Rabbits should not just be fed all kinds of vegetables. Especially gas-forming greens are bad for them. This includes cabbages and leeks. Other vegetables such as endive, carrot tops, radish leaves and chicory are fine. They may also have fruit, but not too often. fruit contains sugars, which can make the animals overweight. In addition, sugars are not properly processed by the gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to hay, rabbits also need rabbit food in the form of hard food. Here we have a choice of mixed food and all-in-one chunks. The big advantage of the all-in-one kibble such as biks is that the rabbits cannot eat selectively. Some rabbits eat selectively and only pick the tasty things from the food, which can cause nutritional deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies, overweight or underweight. Whichever rabbit food you choose, the highest fiber content is our preference. Hay should be the staple food at all times!
The amount of hard food that must be given can differ per feed brand. This strongly depends on the composition of the feed. Therefore, always look carefully at the back of the packaging where the manufacturer provides nutritional advice. You also have to make a good assessment yourself, because an active outdoor rabbit needs more food than a calm indoor rabbit. Different life phases can also play a role. Think, for example, of young animals, pregnant and lactating rabbits and of course the older rabbit. All these groups have different nutritional needs. Fortunately, there is special food for all these stages of life. You can also weigh the rabbits and keep track of the weight for the first time.
Did you know that rabbits eat their night feces? The appendix droppings. We call that with a very expensive word: "Coprophagy". The animals do this to obtain all their nutrients, especially the vitamin B12 from the food. Rabbits eat these droppings directly from their anus. They are little shiny droppings. If you often find these in the enclosure, there is a good chance that your bunny is getting too much food.
gnawing material for rabbits
Rabbits may not belong to the rodent group... they like to gnaw! In fact, they really need it. The teeth of rabbits also grow throughout their lives and must wear well to prevent dental problems. Good rabbit gnawing material is:
You can recognize a healthy rabbit by its active and alert attitude, clean eyes, clean and dry fur. You can recognize a sick rabbit by the following symptoms:
In addition, the droppings are an important pillar when it comes to the health of your rabbit. Small hard droppings indicate a blockage or too little food. Soft or even wet droppings can be an indication of intestinal complaints. In most cases, the wrong diet or too fast a switch of food is the culprit.
Is your rabbit not eating? Then you need to go to the vet right away! A rabbit cannot go too long without food, a day can be life-threatening or fatal. Supplementation is almost always necessary in such a case. Not wanting to eat can be caused by various things, intestinal complaints, dental problems, pain, stress, etc. Dental problems occur regularly, such as incorrectly growing teeth. In that case, a veterinarian should always be consulted.
There are also two particularly dangerous and contagious diseases in rabbits. Those are Myxomatosis and VHD (RHD). These two are fatal to the rabbit in almost all cases. VHD spreads very quickly and easily. Vaccination is strongly recommended by veterinarians. We know of two virus variants of VHD in the Netherlands. A vaccine is given annually against myxomatosis and VHD type 1. VHD type 2 should be vaccinated every six months or annually. The latter depends on the vaccine.