Pet Rabbit General Care
1. Rabbits are to be examined by your veterinarian every 6 months. Your veterinarian can teach you how to observe for overgrown teeth and toe nails, sore hocks, discharge from the eyes, ears, nose, skin, and genital areas because these abnormalities may be signs of potentially serious and life-threatening problems. The amount and consistency of bowel movements should also be monitored on a regular basis.
2. Rabbits should be housed in a well-ventilated enclosure with enough room to move away from their eliminations, and accommodate and eating area and some sort of hide. Substrate should be relatively thick to prevent pressure sores and should be changed regularly to prevent urine scald and prevent a dirty housing situation.
3. Rabbits should be fed a diet of free choice hay with some greens and a minimal amount of pellets. Please refer to our rabbit diet handout for detailed information on rabbit diets.
4. Rabbits are prone to heat stroke. Rabbits should be maintained in temperatures between 400F and 850F. Excessive slobbering or moisture around the mouth or dewlap may be a sign of excessive heat.
5. Rabbits are very prone to spinal trauma and subsequent paralysis. Rabbits are generally picked up by the scruff of the neck with one hand with the rear legs supported at all times by the other hand.
6. All female rabbits that are not used for breeding should be spayed by 2-3 years of age, as cancer of the uterus is common in the rabbit.
7. It is advisable to neuter male rabbits if there are problems with marking territory, urine spraying, and aggressive behavior.
Rabbit Medical Issues
All rabbits should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year. Once your rabbit is 6 years of age or older, they should be examined every 6 months. Basic bloodwork is recommended annually after 5 years of age and prior to any anesthesia. Urine and fecal checks are run based on need and your rabbit’s exposure to other pets or animals.
It is recommended that all female rabbits not used for breeding be spayed prior to 2 or 3 years of age. Unspayed does are at great risk for uterine adenocarcinoma later in life. This cancer of the reproductive tract is difficult to diagnose early on and can spread elsewhere, making treatment less effective.
Male rabbits tend to have issues with urine spraying, territorial marking with urine, and aggressive behavior. If the buck is neutered prior to exhibiting these signs, they rarely become an issue. However, once the behavior is entrenched, even neutering may not stop “bad boy” problems.
Whenever the temperature is 95 F or above, rabbits are under stress. This is especially important in Arizona where supplemental cooling is REQUIRED for all rabbits during the summer months. Indoor housing with air conditioning is best. Outside, use frozen water bottles and fans. Just be sure that the rabbit can escape the fan’s direct draft, if they wish to. And of course, provide good shade and cool water at all times.
If you need to transport your bunny in a car during the summer months, ice packs wrapped in towels work great.