Lop RabbitRabbits have long been the favourite pets of children and adults alike. Because of their pleasant nature and natural cleanliness they make excellent indoor as well as outdoor pets and get on well with other pets such as guinea pigs, cats and dogs. Rabbits were discovered about 3000 years ago in Europe. They were not domesticated until the 19th century.

Most domesticated rabbits will live for about 6-10 years and so make good long term pets. There are over 200 breeds of rabbits in the world and many varieties are found in this country.

Here are some handy tips to help you care for your rabbit

Where will your rabbit live?

A good quality weatherproof hutch is needed so that your rabbit can be warm and dry even during extremes of weather. A mesh fronted, 2 roomed wooden hutch is best. A pitched roof with a small overhang will stop the rabbit from getting wet in bad weather. Try to raise the hutch off the ground if possible on short legs. This will help reduce damp. The hutch should be big enough to allow your rabbit to move about easily.

The minimum floor space needed per rabbit is about 3sq ft for a rabbit up to 5Ib. You should increase the floor space by 1 sq ft per 2Ib if you rabbit is bigger than this or there is more than 1 rabbit. If you wish to keep your rabbit indoors then a suitable wire cage is needed. The hutch should be at least 18 inch high.

You will also need to provide a large secure area or pen so that your rabbit can get some exercise in a safe area from which he cannot escape. The enclosure should be surrounded by a mesh fence at least 3ft high and sunk into the ground so that the rabbit can’t dig underneath it.

You also need to provide some bedding for the rabbit. This can be a layer of whitewood saw dust underneath to insulate the hutch or a layer of peat to provide some digging material. Top the litter with a layer of hay or straw.

Any wet or soiled bedding should be removed daily along with stale food and any droppings. A thorough clean is needed once a week.

What do rabbits eat?

Acton Pet shop stocks a large range of rabbit food including pellets and mixed food. Rabbits need two meals a day. One of which should contain hay or dandelions to provide calcium. Rabbits enjoy a varied diet and a small amount of cabbage, spring greens, celery and carrots can be given. Be careful as too many greens can cause diarrhoea. During the winter it may be advisable to give the rabbit a mixture called bran mash and also extra grain foods. Rabbits are nibblers so there should always be something for the rabbit to gnaw on, especially if being kept in doors or you may find it will gnaw on your wires! A mineral block and a salt lick will also help to keep the rabbit healthy and provide essential minerals. Vitamin drops will also help.

Make sure that feeding dishes are kept clean and washed frequently.

Fresh drinking water should be available all the time and a drip-feeder bottle can provide this easily and cleanly. The bottle should be emptied, cleaned and refilled at least once a day and check during the winter that the water is not frozen!

What about toys & treats?

Your budgie will thoroughly enjoy new toys to amuse him. An extensive range is available at Acton Pet Store. Just make sure there is room enough for the bird to stretch and climb and avoid overcrowding the cage.

General care of your rabbit

Clean hutches regularly and avoid leaving hay that is wet in the hutch for too long as mouldy hay or straw can cause respiratory problems in rabbits. Long-haired rabbits require grooming to keep their coats clean and shiny. A good brush once a week will usually be sufficient; this will also prevent fur balls. Also keep you rabbit’s teeth in good health and if they become too long you may need to get them trimmed. Seek the advice of your vet.

If you are in any doubt about caring for your pet then please ask your pet shop or consult your vet. This leaflet gives only basic advice. Invest in a good book about your pet. This will help you care for your pet safely. We would be happy to help you choose a suitable title