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Rabbit Care

By: Dr. Alondra Martin

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The minimum recommended cage space for a single rabbit is two feet by two feet by four feet. Although many cages are made from wire, it is important to provide an area that is made from a solid material like wood, Plexiglas or cardboard. This is to provide a "resting" area for the rabbit and to help prevent the formation of ulcers on the bottoms of the rabbits' feet. These sores often occur when the rabbit is kept solely on a wire surface.

Since rabbits can be litter-trained like a cat, a litter box or two should be placed in a chosen corner and filled with substrates like Yesterday's News, Cellu-Dri, Mountain Kitty Litter, or Harvest Litter. These recycled paper and pelleted grass products are rabbit friendly, and will not cause any intestinal problems if they are ingested like the standard clay kitty litters will. Other substrates to be avoided are wood shavings, corncob, and walnut shells.

Since rabbits are designed for running and jumping it is important to provide a safe exercise area for them to play in. This can be an indoor or outdoor facility, although certain restrictions apply. If an indoor area is used it must be "rabbit-proofed." Keep in mind that rabbits will chew upon furniture, rugs, drapes and electrical cords. Therefore, all these items need to be removed or placed out of harm reach. Cords can be easily run through PVC pipe to help insure the rabbit's safety and prevent electrocution.

If an outdoor area is to be used, it must be fully enclosed and the temperature below 80 degrees, because rabbits can become easily overheated due to their dense hair coat and their inability to sweat or perspire. The rabbit must be supervised at all times so that no predator can strike unexpectedly. Other hazards of outdoor living are external parasites, including fleas, maggots, ticks, and cuterebra. Careful vigilance and meticulous grooming should help to prevent these parasitic invaders. Make certain that no fertilizers or pesticides have been applied to the chosen play area.

Whatever exercise area is chosen, it is recommended that indoor rabbits have several hours of exercise time each day to insure both physical and mental well-being. Other suggestions to help enrich your rabbit's life include offering raw untreated citrus branches or untreated scraps of wood unto which they can chew, a cardboard box or paper grocery bag filled with hay to provide a place to hide as well as an appropriate thing to chew and dig in. Other suitable toys are wire kitty balls with bells inside, Mason jar rings, and paper towel rolls. Please do not use toys made of Styrofoam or plastic since these can become ingested and present a life-threatening problem.

Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Clostridial diarrhea
  • Dysbiosis Secondary to Antibiotic therapy
  • Malocclusion
  • Mucoid Enteritis
  • Pasteurella multocida
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Trichobezoars/ hairball/ "wool block"
  • Urogenital Disorders
  • Abscesses
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
  • Calciuria
  • Acute Diarrhea
  • Coccidiosis
  • External parasites

    Additional Readings

    The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman; also, the House Rabbit Society is a wonderful organization of rabbit lovers that with a small fee provides a quarterly newsletter and is a good source of information. Their website is www.rabbit.org

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