Category Archives: Your Rabbit’s Health
I noticed in one of your videos that you use aspen shavings in your rabbit’s litterboxes. I was just wondering if you ever had issues with mites while using these shavings? My vet has told me not to use any kind of shavings because they often have mites in them which can then transfer to my rabbit. Is this something I should be concerned about?
The fact is that mites can be carried in any bedding – not just shavings – as well as hay. To eliminate any concern, you can place the bags of bedding that you purchase in your freezer for 48 hours. This will ensure that any creepy crawlies that may be in the bag are dead before coming in to contact with your rabbit.
If you are concerned that your rabbit may have already contracted mites from their bedding, your vet will be able to diagnose and prescribe a topical solution such as Ivermectin or Revolution to treat it.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not make good ‘starter pets’, should not be a child’s responsibility and are actually quite intelligent animals who require a specialized diet, housing and care.
These are a few of the main points you should consider prior to adding a rabbit to your household…
Trust Building Can Take A While:
Rabbits are prey animals and by instinct are more cautious. It is natural for them to be nervous about you and their new surroundings. It isn’t that they don’t want your companionship but for most rabbits it will take a while for them to open up and fully trust you. Patience is vital during these stages.
Vet Bills Are Costlier:
Rabbits are considered an exotic animal. They have complex digestive systems, a very sensitive heart and a delicate bone structure. They require specialized care that only a qualified vet can provide. Most exotic vets will charge a higher exam rate because they are dealing with an exotic animal and have gone through the necessary schooling to become specialized in this area.
You Need Proper Housing And Somewhere To Put That Housing:
Rabbits require a larger amount of space then any pet shop cage can provide. Rabbits are extremely active animals and should not be housed in anything smaller than an ex-pen which provides approximately 16 sq. feet of floor space. Your rabbit needs to be able to hop at least three times in their cage without hitting anything and be able to stand up on their hind legs. Additional levels are recommended as they add extra floor space and keep those back legs nice and strong! Rabbits also require a minimum of 3+ hours of floor time per day. Building your own rabbit condo is an affordable way to provide your rabbit with the required space it needs. You can find out more about this here.
Rabbits Are Natural Chewers And Diggers:
Without diligent bunny proofing, rabbits can wreck havoc on your house. Wires, carpet and baseboards are bunny favourites! Not only is this frustrating for you but it can be incredibly dangerous for your rabbit. Cords and baseboards need to be blocked off and carpet covered before letting your rabbit come out for play time.
Rabbits Don’t Like To Be Picked Up:
Another common misconception is that rabbits make excellent children’s pets and are perfect for snuggling! Rabbits actually have incredibly delicate bone structures and can be easily injured if they are handled too roughly. Being prey animals, they prefer their feet on the ground and interactions should be done on their level.
Need A Minimum Of 3+ Hours Of Daily Exercise:
As mentioned above, rabbits are incredibly active animals. Rabbits love to run, do bunny 500’s and binky! In the wild they would cover an incredible distance on a daily basis foraging for food. If your rabbit isn’t given enough time out of it’s pen then it has no outlet to exert it’s energy. This can lead to a variety of health problems and a very stressed out grumpy bun that takes it’s frustrations out on you!
Bunny proofing, setting up and disassembling floor time, feeding and daily cage cleanings all take time. On top of that you will want to spend as much time as you can bonding with your rabbit. If you have an extremely busy schedule and cannot devote this time to your pet, then a rabbit may not be for you!
Hay And Veggies Can Be A Costly Expense:
Hay purchased at the pet store is incredibly costly and your rabbit needs unlimited amounts available at all times. Depending on the type of harvest and weather we’ve had may also impact the price of hay in your area. Rabbits should also be given 1-2 cups of vegetables daily which can get quite costly especially when you’re purchasing in the off season.
Rabbits Are A 10 Year Commitment:
With proper care, rabbits live for approximately 8-10 years but we are also hearing more and more of bunnies reaching 12+ years of age! So where will you be in 10 years? Are you planning on going away to college or still trying to find your dream job? Do you love to travel? This lifespan is the commitment of a large dog not a hamster. Of course this is great if you are looking for a long term pet that can be an established part of your family.
Rabbits Should Be Spayed/Neutered:
Around 4-6 months of age your rabbit’s hormones will develop and dictate your rabbit’s actions towards you. This can provide a very unpleasant experience for you and your rabbit and is also one of the leading reasons so many end up in shelters. There are a lot of reasons to spay/neuter your rabbit. Find out more about that here.
Rabbits Are Incredibly Social:
Rabbits are incredibly social, loving animals that crave companionship. If you are at school, work or just gone from the house for a large part of the day then you should consider getting a second rabbit. Rabbits are incredibly territorial however and need to both be spayed/neutered before being introduced on neutral ground. You also need to keep in mind that rabbits have their own unique personalities and no matter how hard you try, they may not get along. In this instance you will also need to have the space to house and care for two rabbits separately.
Not Suitable For Young Children:
As previously mentioned, rabbits are extremely delicate animals with sensitive bone structures. Mishandling can easily lead to injury. Rabbits do not like to be picked up and can not take a lot of abuse. Their specialized diet and care requires the dedication of an adult not a young child. This is not to say that a rabbit can’t be a loving and wonderful family pet, however a parent needs to accept primary responsibility for the pet and always supervise while children are around. If you’re looking for something for your child to hold and squeeze a large dog is more suitable.
May Require Annual Vaccines And Will Need An Annual Health Checkup:
Depending on where you live, your rabbit may be required to have annual vaccinations. These protect against deadly diseases such as myxomatosis and VHD. In North America these are not required, however annual checkups are recommended to make sure your rabbit’s are in good health.
If at this point you’re still interested in adding one of these adorable animals to your life then you’ll be happy to read the following…
Less Time Consuming Than Other Animals:
Compared to a puppy, rabbits are a low maintenance pet. They can be left for longer periods of time, you don’t have to walk them outdoors and they can live happily in your home no matter the size. This is great for people living in apartments where space is an issue. It also means you don’t have to go down eleven floors to take your pet outdoors every time they have to use the washroom! When you are going to be away you can leave your rabbit at home and have someone come in daily to spend time with it instead of paying expensive boarding fees.
Once Tame, Rabbits Are Very Loving, Wonderful Animals:
Rabbits are incredibly social and loving. They love interacting with you and seeking your attention. If you have followed us for some time and have watched our various YouTube videos, you will have seen how sweet these animals are.
The binkies, hops, flops and bunny 500s rabbits love to do is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! Watching your rabbit pick up and toss their toys or run around excitedly when given a favourite treat is just too adorable not to enjoy!
Rabbits Are Quiet:
Rabbits don’t vocalize their feelings like a dog or cat which makes them a great addition! If you are looking for a quiet pet to add to your family or live in an apartment, a smaller space or joined housing then why not consider a rabbit?
They Don’t Require You To Walk Them:
When there’s six feet of snow on the side walk, I still have to take my dogs for a walk. The weather outside does not affect a house rabbit. As long as you are providing them with the necessary daily floor time you are not required to participate (although it’s always more fun if you do!).
Rabbits Can Be Litter Trained:
Much like a cat, once spayed/neutered a rabbit can form excellent litter box habits! Many owners choose to have their rabbits free range around their rabbit proofed home because of this! Rabbits are also fastidious groomers and are very clean animals.
Most Active At Dawn And Dusk:
Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active in the early morning and evening. This is perfect for the majority of people who work or go to school during the day. Your rabbit will do most of it’s relaxing while you’re away and be ready to play when you’re home!
Rabbits Don’t Have A Natural Odour:
Unlike rodents and ferrets, rabbits don’t have a natural odour. If you are noticing a smell then you are not changing their bedding or cleaning their litter box enough. Also remember that rabbits who aren’t spayed/neutered will also have smellier urine/faeces as they are trying to mark their territory with their droppings.
Rabbits Come In All Different Sizes, Colours And Breeds:
Floppy ears, erect ears, solid, speckled, banded, white, black, brown, grey, long haired, short haired, large or small, the possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right rabbit for you!
Rabbit Droppings Make Great Fertilizer:
Rabbit droppings are nutrient rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Rabbits poop a lot! Now you have a place to put it!
Can Be Trained:
Rabbits are incredibly intelligent and many easily take to clicker training just like a cat or dog. Many people teach their rabbits a variety of fun tricks! This provides an exciting way to bond with your bunny!
We at BudgetBunny think rabbits make great and loving pets however doing your research first is key! As rabbits are prey animals they can’t be expected to act in the same manner as a dog or cat. It is essential that you go at their pace and be incredibly patient with them as they become a part of your family. Once you have established that bond with your rabbit you will have one incredible companion to share your life with!
Don’t forget, you can learn more about this topic and others by visiting our YouTube channel BudgetBunny!
What Is Spaying/Neutering?
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures performed by your vet which remove parts of your pet’s reproductive systems, therefore preventing them from being able to reproduce. Spays are performed on female animals and involve removing the ovaries and uterus. Neuters are performed on male animals and involve removing the testicles. Done by a rabbit savvy qualified vet, this is a safe operation that has many benefits to both you and your pet’s health.
Why Spay/Neuter Your Rabbit?
Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies:
This is vital if you’re going to house multiple rabbit’s together; remember that opposite sexed paired rabbits work best. A rabbit, will on average, give birth to 4-10 kits and can get pregnant again right after giving birth! Rabbits are also the third most abandoned animal in shelters in North America and the first most abandoned in the UK. With so many homeless bunnies already in the world there is really no reason to let your rabbits breed.
Prevent Unwanted Hormonal Behaviour:
Rabbits may start off as cute and cuddly but around 4-6 months of age the dreaded teenager phase will kick in. Their hormones will heighten and begin to dictate their actions. Once sweet and adorable, your rabbit may start exhibiting a number of unwanted behaviours such as grunting, nipping, lunging, territorial aggression, cage protectiveness, humping and marking their territory with foul smelling urine and faeces.
Unfixed female rabbits may not want to be handled or touched and can also exhibit the symptoms of pregnancy. These false pregnancies are very stressful and can be dangerous for her overall health. You may find your rabbit ripping large clumps of fur out to make a nest. If she ingests too much of this hair it could lead to a deadly blockage. In severe cases, her uterine wall may thicken but not dissolve properly when the false pregnancy is over. This can also be life threatening.
Encourage Better Litter Box Habits:
Rabbits are incredibly clean animals who enjoy having a designated spot to do their business, however an unfixed rabbit’s urge to establish their territory will overrule their need to keep a tidy house. Since spaying/neutering will eliminate the hormonal urge to mark, they will instead be once again encouraged to use that delegated spot. You will also find that their droppings and urine have less of an odour to them.
Encourage A Stronger Bond Between You And Your Rabbit:
Since hormones are no longer dictating their behaviour, you can now have the bond with your rabbit that you’ve always wanted. Instead of being chased, humped, boxed at, urinated on or even nipped, you and your rabbit can enjoy your interactions together. Unfortunately one of the main reasons so many rabbits end up in shelters is because pet shops have deemed them to be an easy to care for ‘starter pet’. The uneducated owner is shocked when their rabbit mutates in to an unruly monster and is unaware that a simple procedure can eliminate these unwanted behaviours.
The risk of uterine cancer in an unspayed female rabbit is shockingly high. Up to 75% of unspayed females develop uterine cancer before the age of 5. This risk of cancer rises drastically after the age of 2. There is also a greater risk of males developing testicular cancer if they are not neutered.
Essential For Bonded Rabbits:
Rabbits are incredibly social animals and do best with the companionship of another rabbit. Unfortunately unfixed rabbits (even those of the same sex) are extremely territorial and will often fight to the death to defend their space. Neutering and spaying helps to prevent territorial aggression and dominance issues when rabbits are introduced properly.
When Not To Neuter/Spay Your Rabbit:
Spaying and neutering is of course an optional procedure and not every rabbit will qualify. Fixing your rabbit is not recommended if it’s going to put your rabbit’s health in danger. Heart conditions, rabbits with disabilities or older rabbits are going to have higher risks of complications. It is important to have your rabbit savvy vet perform a thorough physical examination to determine whether or not spaying/neutering is right for your pet.
Who Can Spay/Neuter Your Rabbit?:
Rabbits are extremely delicate animals with a very sensitive heart. Because of this not just any vet can spay or neuter your rabbit. Look for a vet who specializes in exotics and has a lot of experience with rabbits.
Local shelters and rescues often include the cost of spaying/neutering in your adoption fee! You will bypass that pesky teenager phase, not have to worry about post-op care and the fee is often less then taking your rabbit to the vet yourself!
Don’t forget, you can learn more about this topic and others by visiting our YouTube channel BudgetBunny!
Being prey animals, rabbits are experts at hiding illnesses, often until it’s too late. A rabbit’s nose however, can tell you a lot about their health and be an excellent indication of whether scheduling a vet visit is needed!
Scabs: Does your rabbit’s nose have scabs on or around it? Do these look like scratches that have bled and healed or like sore lesions? Rabbits are fastidious groomers so keeping nails short and trimmed can prevent your rabbit from scratching itself. Some people also find that filing their rabbit’s nails down with a small nail file helps prevent this – if your rabbit will sit still long enough! If you notice that along with the scratches the area surrounding the nose has dry flakey skin or a dandruff type appearance to it, then it is possible your rabbit is suffering from fur mites. Killing mites requires ivermectin or selemectin treatments – both of which can be administered by your vet after doing a skin analysis. If the scabs you are seeing have a cold sore like appearance to them and are surrounding the nose and mouth, your rabbit may have something called treponematosis or ‘rabbit syphilis’. This would also require treatment from your veterinarian. In this case, you may also notice these types of sores around your rabbit’s genital area. If the scab appears to be more of a small growth you could be looking at an abscess – which your vet would need to drain and treat with antibiotics.
Runny Nose: Does your rabbit’s nose often appear runny? Is the discharge clear or coloured? Rabbits have extremely sensitive respiratory systems. If your rabbit’s nose is leaking regularly but is clear and watery in colour and doesn’t have other accompanying characteristics such as heavy breathing, loss of appetite or lethargy, then it could be a result of your rabbit’s living environment. A runny nose can often be a primary indication that a scent is irritating your rabbit. Softwood beddings such as cedar and pine should be avoided for this reason. The strong aromatic oils these shavings give off can be extremely dangerous to your rabbit’s health. Similarly, strong scented bedding, air fresheners, essential oils, perfume/cologne and even washing your rabbit’s beds or bedding in a strongly scented laundry detergent can irritate your rabbit. Urine buildup can also bother your rabbit’s nasal passage so make sure you are doing regular cage and litterbox cleaning. If the discharge is coloured, has blood in it or is thick and slimy then a trip to the vet is required. Your rabbit may be suffering from a upper respiratory infection (URI) which needs to be treated as quickly as possible. Blood in the nose could also indicate a tumour, an advanced URI or a more serious illness so act quickly.
Crusty Nose: Is your rabbit’s nose free of crust or buildup? If your rabbit’s nose appears crusty this could be dried mucus which is an indication of a URI or other bacterial infection. It can also be a symptom of rabbit syphilis if accompanied by the scabbed areas mentioned above. Having your vet run a culture to determine the type of bacteria will narrow down the illness and from there they can recommend the proper course of treatment.
Dry: If your rabbit’s nose and the fur around it is looking dry and flakey then the most likely cause is fur mites. Mites can be pesky, living in hay and bedding, so not only is a vet visit required to treat the symptoms but thoroughly cleaning your rabbit’s cage and surrounding area will help eliminate any left behind.
Clean: Is your rabbit’s nose clean and fresh looking? Is there any debris stuck in or around it? Sometimes hay can get lodged in your rabbit’s nasal cavity. If this happens and the piece of hay is sticking out of your rabbit’s nose you can gently remove the hay with a small pair of tweezers. Having someone hold your rabbit still while you remove the particle of hay is essential to ensure you don’t hurt your rabbit. If you can tell something is lodged in your rabbit’s nose but you can not easily remove it please see your vet! You could very easily do some permanent damage by attempting to remove it yourself. If your rabbit’s nose has small amounts of poop on it then this could indicate that your rabbit has an upset stomach. Rabbits create two types of feces. One of these is called cecotropes which they will ingest for ultimate nutrient absorption. When your rabbit’s digestive tract is irritated it can cause soft or unformed stools. You may want to start tracking when this is happening and what types of foods you are feeding to determine what is causing the gut issues your rabbit is experiencing.
Remember that illnesses in rabbits can be serious and life threatening when left untreated. Many are also contagious so it is often recommended to treat all rabbits living in the same area or to separate one from the other. Rabbit illnesses that affect the nose are not limited to the possibilities mentioned above. you are concerned by any behaviours your rabbit is displaying please seek the advice of your rabbit savvy vet.
There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding rabbit housing. Unfortunately many rabbits are bought on a whim during holiday seasons such as Easter where they are marketed as cute and cuddly ‘starter pets’ for children. Uneducated shoppers are led to the housing aisle and shown a variety of cages deemed fit for a rabbit. The problem is that none of these cages are spacious enough to provide the happy living environment a rabbit requires.
Why Are Pet Shop Cages Not Suitable For Rabbits?
Pet Shop cages may be cute, colourful and compact for your living area but they do not have your rabbit’s well-being in mind. Even the largest of rabbit cages sold in pet stores are still too small. In this photo you can see just how cramped living quarters in a large pet shop rabbit cage are. Honey takes up almost 1/4 of this cage and that’s before a water bowl, litterbox, hay rack, hidey house and toys have been added! With these additions in the cage it would be nearly impossible for her to hop, turn around, lounge or flop. Imagine spending your life or the majority of every day locked in your bathroom. You may be given the necessities to live but it’s not going to be long before you get frustrated and bored. A rabbit is a living, breathing, feeling, complex animal that deserves the same amount of love, attention, space and care that any pet does.
What Are The Minimum Requirements For A Rabbit Cage?
1) Your rabbit must be able to comfortably hop from one end of the cage to the other at least 3 times without hitting anything.
2) Your rabbit should have an area in their cage where they can stand up on their hind legs and periscope around.
3) Additional levels are recommended to maintain proper muscle development.
4) The House Rabbit Society recommends nothing smaller than an ex-pen to house your rabbit in.
5) Even if your cage meets these requirements your rabbit still needs a minimum of 3 hours of daily floor time.
What Type Of Housing Is Suitable For Rabbits?
Exercise pens or ex-pens can be purchased from your local pet shop and are generally found in the ‘dog’ aisle. This photo shows Willow in an ex-pen. The size difference between the ex-pen and the pet shop rabbit cage is clearly evident. While ex-pens do provide the space a rabbit requires they are quite costly to purchase, do not have a proper cage top and can be easily moved around by your rabbit if not anchored down. As you can see in the photo, we had to build a base for our ex-pen to prevent our rabbits from moving it across the room, spilling their food, water and litterbox everywhere. The other problem we faced was the open top. I would frequently come home from work and see a flash of bunny feet whiz by me when I walked up the stairs.
Many rabbit owners are now looking for alternative ways to meet the minimum housing requirements but also do so affordably. Constructing cages out of neat idea storage (NIC) cubes such as those by Rubbermaid have become a popular alternative. Rocky and Honey’s cage is constructed out of NIC grids, zip ties and wooden bases that we tiled for easy clean up. Their cage is 4 grids long by 4 grids tall by 2 grids wide providing four levels of fun! Not only was this cage cost effective but it also allowed us to customize the size and shape to suit the room it was going in.
You can see how we built these cages here.
As we already had the expensive ex-pen we decided to modify it and use it for Willow and Ollie’s living space. We made better use of the height of the pen by adding additional levels. To ensure Willow’s cage provided enough height and space we added a top row of NIC grids.
Rabbit Room / Rabbit Living Area
Many people choose to dedicate a room or a large section of a room for their rabbit. This way it is able to free range 100% of the time. If you are considering this please ensure that you are diligently bunny proofing the area first. Carpet, cords and baseboards are especially tempting to rabbits whose natural instincts are to dig and chew!
Free Range House Rabbit
And finally many now opt to have their rabbits live in their house just like a dog or cat. Rabbits are easily litter trained and make excellent house pets! This option is not available to all rabbit owners, especially those with other animals in the house. Please make sure that if you are considering having a free range house rabbit to take the other pets you have in to account as well as the rabbit proofing that will be involved.
You can see more on bunny proofing here.
Why Is Large Housing Important?
Prevents Behavioural Problems – A rabbit who spends their day in a small living area they can’t properly move around in will not only be bored but will have no way to burn off that pent up energy. That lack of exercise will naturally lead to frustration and behavioural problems that will most likely be taken out on you. Can you blame them? Stuck in that small space all day would make me cranky too!
Health – If your rabbit can’t properly stretch it’s legs or move around then this can lead to serious problems such as poor muscle tone. Boredom can also lead to depression, a weakened immune system and illness.
Better Litterbox Habits – That’s right! Rabbits confined to smaller cages are less likely to develop good litterbox habits as compared to those housed in appropriate sized condos. This is because they have enough space to properly live in their home while designating a specific area as their toilet.
Stronger Bond – A happy rabbit is easier to tame!
This post is intended to inspire not to shame. Most of us rabbit owners, myself included, began with pet shop cages because we just weren’t aware there were more suitable options out there. If you have followed us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and here on the Blog then you know how amazing and loving these animals can be! Once our rabbit’s became accustomed to their new, spacious condos it was evident how much happier they were. So take this information and better your rabbit’s life!
Just a quick reminder: On average rabbits live around 8-10 years of age but we’re hearing more and more of house bunnies living well in to their teens! If you are unable or unwilling to dedicate the proper space or housing required for a rabbit to live the long and happy life it deserves, then perhaps a rabbit is not the pet for you!
Riverside Pet Hospital
Recommended Vet: Dr. Mike Korosi D.V.M
110 Ritchie Street
Ajax, ON L1S 7G5
‘Dr. Korosi listens to me and is great with our four rabbits. One of our rabbits has a few unique medical conditions and Dr. Korosi treats him gently and with care. Our two female rabbits were spayed by him with no complications. This clinic is reasonably priced and always tries to work around my schedule to see us as quickly as possible. The rest of the staff is also friendly and compassionate, showing a true love for animals.’ – K.
Windrush Veterinary Services
155 Lynden Road
Brantford, ON N3R 8A7
‘They are kind, caring and dedicated to helping in any way possible. Plus they have excellent skills and knowledge when it comes to exotics or even wildlife!!’ – A.
Coquitlam, British Columbia
Eagle Ridge Animal & Bird Hospital
Recommended Vet: Dr. Upjohn
2599 Runnel Drive
Coquitlam, British Columbia V3E 1S3
Phone: (604) 464-3343
Campus Estates Animal Hospital
1460 Gordon Street South
Guelph, Ontario N1L 1C8
Phone: (519) 837-1212
‘We cannot say enough good things about Campus Estates Animal Hospital
in Guelph! The clinic is staffed with multiple exotic vets, surgeons
and specialists. They also provide mentoring to our future exotic
vets at Ontario Veterinary College. I could write a book on how many
times they have saved one of my critters. I personally would not
trust buns, chins, degus, etc. to anywhere else – and they do avian,
too. Top-notch, state of the art hospital and probably the most
important thing ever, 24-hour emergency care for exotics!’ – L.
Hopital Pour Oiseaux & Animaux Exotiques de Montreal
(Montreal Bird and Exotic Animals Hospital)
Recommended Vet: Dr. Bealieu
6090 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H4A 1Y1
‘Simone, my bunny, had a problem with her ears and Dr. Bealieu was extremely helpful.’ – V.
Richmond, British Columbia
Little Paws Animal Clinic
Recommended Vet: Dr. Martinez
130 – 12011, 2nd Avenue
Richmond, B.C. V7E 3L6
Phone: 604-241-PETS (7387)
Main West Animal Hospital
Recommended Vet: Dr. Davidson
1 Broadway Ave.
Welland, Ontario L3C 5L2
Phone: (905) 735-7877
‘I am so grateful to have found Dr. Davidson in the office.. she got my Hercules through getting fixed.. okay she got me through getting him fixed.. I may have been a wreck over the whole thing… plus they gave calls to find out how he was doing every other day for over 2 weeks.. the staff was EXTREMELY kind and caring.. they noticed he was more comfortable in his carrier with his own towel from home so they moved him to an area to accommodate him and to make his day stay more comfortable yet still safe. They make us welcome when we go and make sure he does not get stressed by other animals.’ – T.
Honeybourne Veterinary Centre
Overton Park Road, Cheltenham GL50 3BP
Phone: 01242 522 429
‘I have visited this veterinary clinic with two of my guinea pigs and one of my rabbits on several different occasions with various health issues. I have been seen by three different vets and all of them were very knowledgeable with small animals. I would highly recommend them to anyone in the Cheltenham area, I also feel the cost is very reasonable, what a bonus! The consultations set me back about £30 and then whatever medicine or treatment they needed on top of that. 5 stars from me and the pets.’ 🙂 – B.
Old School House, Church Street
Paulton BS39 7LG
Phone: 01761 411705
‘The Paulton location is really expert with rabbits and reasonably priced.’ – C.
Recommended Vet: Sue Stacey
17 West Street
Tadley, Hampshire RG26 3ST
Tel: 0118 981 3668
Phone: 01642 604555
Jacqui Paterson’s Veterinary Surgery
Sopwith Close Surgery
Recommended Vet: Jacqui Paterson
Sopwith Close, Stockton-On-Tees, TS18 3TE
Phone: 01642 604555
‘Jacqui Paterson is awesome; best in my area.’ – S.
Buchan Veterinary Clinics
Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, AB42 1SP
The Animal Clinic
Block 109 Clementi Street 11
Phone: 67744464 / 67746626
‘All of the vets here are equally good, caring, gentle and know their stuff. There was once, a really aggressive cat that was brought in and the vet managed to hush it and make it purr. Another time, someone brought in a very ill bunny and this one dog was barking really loudly at it. The vet immediately led the owner and his bunny to a quieter room so the bunny wouldn’t be in more distress. Two of my friends who both have rabbits also recommend this clinic.’ 🙂 – C.
All Creatures Pet Hospital
Recommended Vet: Dr. Pope
2050 W. Poplar Ave. #126
Collierville, Tennessee 38017
‘I see Dr. Pope and he’s great with my rabbit!’ – A.
Des Moines, Iowa
Oaks Veterinary Clinic
2030 27th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50310
‘I use Oaks because they are very well priced and don’t push any medicines or unnessecary things on you! They came to me well reccomended, and I’m so glad I go to them!’ – T.
UW-Madison Veterinary Teaching Hospital
2015 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
‘Great for emergency service at night if I need to take them in immediately or if it’s during the daytime they can usually make a space for me to bring them in. They are amazing but they are pricey as they’re a university hospital and have the highest technology available. I therefore only use this one for emergencies and risky surgeries that my other vet doesn’t have much experience in.’ – L.
Middleton Veterinary Hospital
Recommended Vet: Barbara Huie, DVM
2705 Parmenter Street
Middleton, WI 53562
‘The exotics vet in this clinic is only available a few times a week so I only bring my pets here if the vet is available or if it’s minor issues that can wait for a day or so until she gets. Their service has been great though and if there’s something that they can’t do in this smaller clinic they refer me to the bigger University clinic.’ – L.
Wellesley Animal Hospital
3430 Lauderdale Drive
Richmond, VA 23233
‘GREAT people, lovely facility, a couple exotic vets on staff. I had no problems at all with my baby boy’s neuter. They worked with my time constraints, as I had to travel 2 hrs to get to them and was waiting while he went through surgery and recovery. Young holland lop, small operating zone, and still no issues at all with healing or pain. They were wonderful.’ – M.
*Please note that this list is based on submissions by our followers. Please do your own research when contacting these veterinarians to ensure your rabbit is in capable hands. If you have a rabbit savvy vet you would like to add to our list please e-mail their information to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries remain anonymous but could help another rabbit owner in your area!*
So I just got a lionhead rabbit and I am in the taming process as she is quit shy. She will often hop away from my hand when I reach out to her. Today when I was offering treats to her she hopped up to me and was taking them from my hand but she was also nipping me. Sometimes it was quite hard! I stopped giving her treats as I didn’t want to reward this but I was wondering why she did this and if I should stop the behaviour or is she just exploring my hand with her mouth?
It sounds like you have one bossy bunny on your hands! It is good that you stopped giving her treats after she began nipping you. The next time that she bites let out a high pitched ‘eeeeeeeeeee’ sound. This is the sound that a rabbit makes when it is frightened and will hopefully show her that she’s hurting you. I am thinking that she is trying to be the boss and get more food from you by nipping so whatever you do don’t reward this behaviour in any way. Hopefully this will curb the behaviour. I know that you mentioned she is a little shy of your hand however when she is relaxing try to gently come up to her and pet her so that she begins to associate your hand with a good thing.
Bb Note: H replied to me a few days later to say that making that sound worked and her bunny hasn’t nipped since!
My bunny is shedding like crazy right now, is this normal?
This is quite normal, especially at this time of year! Rabbits tend to shed every 3-4 months with a big shed in the Fall to get their winter coat in and again in the Spring! Depending on the type of coat your rabbit has they may shed a little here and there or they may be losing a lot of hair at once. Some rabbits even get bald patches before their new fur begins to grow back in. This can be a very stressful time for your rabbit so you can help them by brushing your rabbit once or twice daily and removing any loose tufts of hair.
For more on this topic you can watch my video on grooming here.
The majority of your rabbits diet should consist of hay. Rabbits have very complex, delicate systems and an extremely long digestive tract. A diet high in fiber ensures that their digestive system functions properly to stay strong and healthy. Hay also provides many of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that a rabbit needs in their daily diet. Hay also keeps those continuously growing teeth worn down, particularly the back molars, which is something that feeding pellets alone can’t do. As rabbits lack the ability to throw up, hay also helps to break down blockages like hairballs and allows them to safely pass through their system. It is therefore important that fresh hay is fed in unlimited amounts.
How Much Do I Feed?
Hay should always be available to your rabbit.
What Kind Of Hay Can I Feed?
There are a wide variety of hays that are available to your rabbit. Timothy and meadow hay are the most popular but you can also feed oat, orchard and Bermuda grass occasionally as well. Mixing different hays together can provide variety for your rabbit and make their hay more interesting!
Unless you have a rabbit under the age of 6 months, please avoid alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is safe for young, growing bunnies and pregnant or nursing rabbits. Due to it’s high calcium and protein levels but low fiber content it is not suitable for adult rabbits and can cause health problems including bladder stones and sludge.
Find out more about the importance of hay here.
A wide range of vegetables add a variety of flavours to your rabbits palate as well as providing an assortment of vitamins, nutrients and minerals necessary to your rabbit’s well being. Many vegetables and herbs would also be items rabbits would find and eat in the wild. Fresh vegetables also provide your rabbit with additional hydration due to their higher water content.
How Much Do I Feed?
It is important to introduce any new foods gradually. You can begin introducing your rabbit to fresh foods around the age of 3-4 months. Herbs have a strong and enticing odor and are generally gentler on a baby rabbit’s stomach so I suggest beginning with these.
Start by giving only a small amount of veg per night to see if your rabbit tolerates it well. If your rabbit has loose, runny poos or seems gassy, discontinue feeding. Eventually you will be able to tell what your rabbit likes, what it doesn’t and what it does or doesn’t tolerate.
If your rabbit’s stomach is not bothered by vegetables you can feed 1-2 cups daily. You will know that you’re feeding too much or that your rabbit doesn’t like a particular type of vegetable if your rabbit leaves some of his veg behind.
What Kind Of Vegetables Can I Feed?
A varied diet is key however some vegetables should be fed in limited amounts, some are fine on a regular basis and some should be avoided all together. Dark leafy greens are considered the best to give your rabbit.
Safe Vegetables & Herbs:
Red/Green Leaf Lettuce
Feed In Limited Amounts:
Growing your own vegetables or purchasing organic foods is always recommended, however if these aren’t available to you make sure to thoroughly wash your veggies before feeding to your rabbit.
You can learn more about vegetables and your rabbit here.
Pellets are an assurance that your rabbit’s daily diet contains all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs however they should make up a very small amount of your rabbit’s diet since they are higher in sugars. When given in unlimited amounts many rabbits tend to ignore the healthier food options also available to them. Many rabbit owners opt to feed their rabbits a pellet-less diet but added care needs to be taken to ensure your rabbit’s weight and nutrient requirements are still being met. If you are interested in going pellet-less I would suggest talking to your vet.
How Much Do I Feed?
The general rule is 1/8-1/4 cup of pellets given daily for every 5lbs of rabbit however you may need to adjust depending on age, size, health, amount of exercise your rabbit gets and coat length. Too many pellets in your rabbit’s diet can cause health problems such as obesity and sludge as well as teeth problems as only hay can wear down a bunny’s back molars. Weekly weigh-ins will also determine if your rabbit is gaining or losing weight. If you need to reduce or increase your rabbits pellet intake please do so gradually. If you are concerned about your rabbit’s weight please speak with your rabbit savvy vet.
What Kind Of Pellets Can I Feed?
If your rabbit is under 6 months of age or pregnant or nursing then alfalfa based pellets can be fed. Similarly elderly, ill or rabbits recovering from surgery or illness may be required to eat alfalfa based pellets as they are higher in calories.
Healthy adult rabbits should be fed timothy based pellets.
When choosing pellets please pick one that has a fibre content that is 18% or higher, a fat content that is no more than 5% and a protein content that doesn’t exceed 15%. We love Martin Mill’s Timothy Based Pellets at our house!
Many brands offer muesli mixes that also include bits of corn, seeds and other sugary treats. Please avoid these at all costs. Not only are they not healthy for your rabbit, but they are higher in sugars and can lead to obesity and other health problems. Your rabbit can easily become addicted to these types of foods and refuse to eat anything else!
Fresh water should also be available at all times of the day for your rabbit. Rabbits consume more water per body weight than any other animal and it is therefore essential that they get enough to drink. Water bowls provide easier access for your rabbit to drink out of but some people still prefer a water bottle. Others give their rabbit the option, providing both a water bowl and water bottle for their bunny. Either way please change the water at least once or twice a day and clean bowls and bottles once daily to ensure the water is as clean as possible.
Remember that any store bought treat is junk food to a bunny. If you are going to feed any of these treats to your rabbit please do so sparingly. Also avoid any treats that say they are rabbit safe but contain any kind of dairy such as yogurt drops. Rabbits are strict herbivores and dairy isn’t part of their natural diet.
The best treat to give your bunny is fruit. These are sweet due to their sugar content but still a healthier option then shop bought treats. Once in a while a teaspoon of fresh fruit will have your bunny delighted. As with vegetables try to stick to the organic section of the grocery store and wash thoroughly before feeding to your rabbit.
Safe Fruits To Feed Your Rabbit Include:
Apple (not the seeds)
Pear (not the pit)
My rabbits rarely get treats as I find they are so excited for their nightly vegetables it doesn’t seem necessary.
Please do not give your rabbit any type of human junk food. Cookies, crackers, pizza and chips are extremely unhealthy for a rabbit and could cause your rabbit to become very sick. Chocolate is toxic to rabbits.
Providing fresh or dried forage is becoming more and more popular with rabbit lovers. The theory to picking wild plants and feeding them to your rabbit is that this more closely mimics what your rabbit would consume in the wild. These also provide many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your rabbit needs in order to stay healthy.
Please be careful where you pick! Your backyard is a great place to start as long as you don’t use any pesticides, fertilizers or have larger pets such as dogs that use the backyard as their toilet. Don’t choose public areas like parks, which are usually maintained by cities and treated regularly with pesticides. Roadsides are also not ideal due to gas emissions. Also be certain that what you are picking is safe for your rabbit. Pet rabbits have been domesticated over a long period of time which means they may lack the ability to identify safe and unsafe plants.
Fresh grass clippings (not from a lawn mower)
Smooth Sow Thistle
Apple (except apple seeds)
Bramble (Blackberry Bush)
Lily of the Valley
Any type of bulb plant such as tulips, day lilies and tiger lilies
Do you recommend a water bowl or a water bottle for rabbits?
This has become quite a debate with many rabbit owners! Here are some things to consider for both:
Many people argue that a water bottle keeps your rabbit’s water clean whereas a water bowl leaves the water out in the open, free for dust, dirt, bugs and loose hair to collect in it. Your rabbit could then consume these leading to illness or blockages. Although this could happen, regular cleaning of your bowls and grooming of your rabbit especially in peak shedding season would make this highly unlikely. Please keep in mind that water bottles do build up bacteria and scum rather quickly and should still be thoroughly cleaned once a day. Water bowls should be emptied in the morning and night, given a quick rinse and scrub and filled with fresh water.
Nature did not intend rabbits to consume their water from a bottle. Rabbits drink more water per pound of body weight then any other mammal and a water bowl allows them to consume their water easily. I also find that my rabbits like to soak their chins and paws in the water and groom themselves with it!
Water bottles are also susceptible to leaks. If you are going to use a water bottle I would suggest testing it thoroughly first. There’s nothing worse then finding your rabbit sopping wet after a water bottle leaked out all night! This could also cause permanent damage to your cage depending on what materials you’ve built it with. Similarly the same problem arises from a knocked over water dish. If you plan on using a bowl please consider buying a large, heavy ceramic one and placing it in a corner of the cage. This will be harder for your rabbit to move and knock over, reducing the chance of it being tipped over by a naughty bunny.
Another reason people prefer water bottles over a water dish is because they don’t take up any extra space in their rabbit’s cage. The HRS recommends that your rabbit not be housed in a pen smaller than that in which your rabbit can hop 3 times from one end to the other. They recommend nothing smaller than an ex-pen. With this being said the amount of space the bowl takes up should be minimal compared to the cage size.
I have tried both over the years and prefer a water bowl. Although I don’t encourage people to house their rabbits outdoors if you do, then I think a water bottle would indeed be better as it would definitely keep your rabbit’s water cleaner for longer. In the end I think which you choose to use is up to you as only you know what’s best for you and your rabbit.