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Keeping Rabbits

Keeping Rabbits

Rabbits are often seen as ideal pets for children; in fact this isn’t always the case, as they can be rather timid, require space and care, and aren’t always comfortable with being handled by children.  They are excellent pets who are easily litter trained, fascinating to watch and can become very affectionate, but they do take time and effort.

Is a rabbit right for you?

For small children, an adult will need to take responsibility of pet rabbit(s) as children can be too boisterous for a rabbit to feel truly comfortable, especially as they are not found of loud and sudden noises!
Although rabbits can be very affectionate, must prefer to be at ground level and don’t like being held high, so if you want a cuddly pet, a rabbit may not be for you
Healthcare can be very expensive.  Rabbits can suffer from a number of conditions which can be life threatening and very expensive to treat; they also need regular vaccines against myxomatosis and VHD.
Do you have plenty of space? Confining a rabbit to a hutch is not recommended – they need space to run and play, whether it be indoor or out.  Rabbits do actually make brilliant indoor pets, but you will need to thoroughly bunny proof your home first
Do you have hay fever? Rabbits need plenty of hay in their diet to stay healthy, which can be a problem for hay fever and asthma sufferers
Are you prepared? Rabbits can live for up to 10 years with the right care, so if they are a children’s pet, the child may well have grown up and moved away while the rabbit is still a pet

If you decide a rabbit or two is the pet for you, consider the following:

Rabbits prefer to live in bonded pairs, and will need neutering if you get a male / female pair, which is better for their health in any case
Look at reputable breeders (a list can be found on the RWAF website) to ensure you get a happy, healthy pet
Living space.  Check out the RWAF guidelines, but your will need to ensure your rabbit has a safe place (a hutch or covered pen), plus plenty of exercise space to run around in daily

General care

Rabbits need access to constant fresh water, plus hay, feed, greens and more.  The majority of their diet should be grass or hay, with only a small amount of commercial feed.
Ensure they are safe in your garden from roaming foxes or cats – don’t let them roam unattended.
Provide willow sticks, newspaper, toilet roll inners and so on, as rabbits need to chew and will find something if you don’t provide suitable toys!
Get on her level.  Rabbits are prey animals, with large ears and a sensitive disposition.  To truly make friends, get down to ground level, and spend time quietly sitting.  Most rabbits will find this much less threatening, and learn to make friends more quickly.  Try to avoid lifting the rabbit of the ground unless absolutely necessary, as they may panic and can scratch or bite in fear.
If you do have a single bunny, make sure to give it plenty of attention.  They are very sociable creatures and need regular interaction.
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