Pet Care Tasmania
Pet Care Tasmania

Rabbit Care

*Please click on each heading to read more:

Rabbits are increasingly popular as domestic pets. They are particularly favoured by young families, but many adults also find them to be wonderful companions. Some people have them as pets entirely inside the home. Others have them caged outside at ground level, above ground or in specially adapted enclosures or sheds. When choosing a rabbit for your family consider the size of the rabbit, length of coat and coat colour. White rabbits with unpigmented skin at eyes and ears are subject to sunburn and skin cancer if kept outside. Longhaired rabbits can be difficult to keep groomed.
Think also of the responsibilities of providing warmth, shelter, safety from predators, appropriate feeding, toileting and preventative health measures.
Do you have wild rabbits in the vicinity? Do you have a cat or dog?

The deadly disease myxomatosis, spread by fleas and other biting insects, has no preventative vaccination. The best way to avoid this is to keep your rabbit away from areas where wild rabbits can venture. Calici virus is a deadly virus for which we do have immunization. It is spread by direct contact with an infected rabbit or with body fluids from an infected rabbit. There is a rapid spread throughout the district when the disease is active. Immunisation before 10 weeks of age is advised in high-risk times, and it should be repeated after 4 weeks. At ages of 10 weeks and above immunity from a single vaccination should suffice for 12 months. The age of 10 to 12 weeks is an excellent time to introduce your new rabbit to us so we can discuss relevant health and husbandry issues. Annual boosters are advised.

Rabbits are susceptible to parasites. Worms are generally not a problem, however, coccidiosis protozoa are frequently a serious health risk in young rabbits. Quite often affected rabbits are eating normally and, despite looking well from a short distance, they can be markedly emaciated beneath their fluffy exterior.
If you are seeing fleas on the ears of your rabbit then there is a very high risk of myxomatosis.

This perhaps is the most critical aspect of rabbit health. There are a number of pet food outlets providing pelletized feed and muesli type supplements that are actually bad for your pet. If you have your pet rabbit outside on the lawn don’t expect this to provide enough nutrition on its own, even if you move the cage regularly. The key components to diet should be grass hay (not straw), and ‘greens’ such as vegetables and fruit.
Grass hay is preferable to legume hay, although legume hay can be fed from time to time. At least 1 cup of green leafy vegetable matter should be fed daily per 1kg of rabbit weight, but this is only a supplement to hay feeding.
Typical good ‘Green’ foods include: parsley, celery, carrot tops, dandelion greens and flowers, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts.
Treats include apple, bean sprouts, blackberries, raspberries, carrots, kiwi fruit, mango, melons, pear, pineapple, paw-paw. Treats should be fed at no more than 1 tablespoon per kg body weight daily.
Pellets are to be fed in limited amounts, especially if they are high in starch.