Rabbit care guide


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Guinea pigs make great pets?


Thinking about adopting a rabbit?

Meet them now

What to expect

Rabbits are delightful animals and the rewards are many from happy, relaxed and well-exercised rabbits.  Due to their sensitive natures they are better pets for adults and older children.  

BARKS won't allow you to adopt a breeding pair. But we will encourage you to take on two or three of the same sex as they are herd animals, or a neutered pair, male and female.

Typically,well cared for, they live for four-to-eight years, so they're along-term commitment.

Getting to know them

To get acquainted and build trust, choose a calm, quiet time and place and go slowly. The best way is to go down to the rabbit’s level,encouraging interaction with a few treats, but being careful not to overdo the treats.   Always use both hands to pick up the rabbit.Support her body from underneath and wrap your fingers round gently.Place the other hand under her bottom and lift. If you hold her close to you she'll feel more secure and struggle less. It’s not natural for a rabbit to be lifted off the ground so be patient.

If you take on a rabbit who dislikes being stroked or held, it could be they've been mishandled before they came to BARKS. We'll advise you of this if it's so.  Don’t give up. Hold them for a few minutes at a time and be gentle. They'll gradually get used to being loved.

Food and feeding

Always feed a small quantity of rabbit pellets daily, and a good selection of fresh vegetables; spring greens, cabbage, coriander and broccoli are all good for them.   Carrots should be restricted to single slices as treats only, as they are very high in sugar and can cause constipation.

Rabbits are grazing animals. So, it’s vital they always have quality, bagged, non-dusty hay to keep their digestive systems working and prevent their teeth growing too long.Never give them iceberg lettuce as it can cause diarrhoea. Access to grass, or freshly picked grass, is also essential.

To drink, just some fresh cool water, topped up regularly, in a dish or water bottle.

Health & hygiene

Choosing the right house. Many people add an outdoor cage area to a small shed or playhouse,making the rabbit house a centrepiece of the garden.  Provide shaded areas, and make sure it is predator-proof.  Shut the rabbits inside at night and protect them from the cold.

If indoors, your rabbit will need to run around frequently, so it’s important to allocate one room they can explore safely, or an enclosed pen minimum 3m long x 2m wide x 1m high

Whether their hutch is inside or out, they also need an outdoor run so they can graze, and when they do not have access to grazing areas, freshly picked grass should be provided.  An outdoor hutch should be attached to a run minimum 3m long x 2m wide x 1m high, or if you are worried about foxes, then they should have access to a shed with sufficient floor space.

For bedding, straw or dust-free hay is fine, on top of a layer of newspaper. Avoid pine or cedar shavings because they are toxic.

The living quarters need to be cleaned out every day – especially into the corners, and the food and water need replacing just as often.BARKS suggest you do a 'deep clean' at least once a week.  If you do not remove soiled bedding there is a risk of flies laying eggs in the bedding which will lead to fly strike, a fatal and distressing condition.

A healthy rabbit is alert, with bright eyes and a good coat. Keep your rabbits vaccinated against myxamotosis and VHD, both are killer diseases.

Safety tips

Children need supervision when playing with the rabbit and should be encouraged to be gentle and keep play sessions short.

For indoor pets allocated a room for exercise and play:

  • Remove wires or cables they might chew and get electrocuted.
  • Remove other pets. Introduce them very carefully and slowly.
  • Choose a room with wipeable flooring because the inevitable will happen!

Never keep rabbits – or any animal – in a garage used for vehicles as the fumes can kill them.

Don't keep guinea pigs and rabbits in the same hutch or run.

Never keep a rabbit alone, as this is unnatural to them and will cause deep distress.

BARKS will help you to bond rabbits if you are looking for a companion for your own rabbit.