Pellets: I feed my rabbits ADM Pen Pals only. I highly recommend not using feed that contains corn. Before switching to a new feed that you wish to use He/she needs time to get comfortable with his new surroundings before you change his diet. Once he/she has had at least 24 hours to adjust you may begin switching to the pellets you plan to feed. This needs to be a very gradual change or it can upset his digestive system and lead to major problems. Begin by substituting the new pellets in for 1/8th of his normal ration, then several days later 1/4th, then 1/2 and so on. Mixing in a small amount of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats will also help your rabbit digestive system make the transition smoothly. A young rabbit has a very sensitive digestive system as they have recently been weaned off mother's milk and is still getting used to their new diet. Gradual changes are okay, sudden changes could cause diarrhea, which can be fatal. Always feed a measured amount of pellets each day so you can make sure your rabbit is eating regularly. From 6 to 12 weeks a baby rabbit should be fed an adult ration twice a day. Then at twelve weeks gradually scale down to one adult ration once a day. An adult ration should be one ounce of food per pound of body weight per day. For a dwarf would be 1/4 a day. I adjust feed accordingly to the rabbits body condition and with nursing does with litters they are free fed as well as young jr.s up to the age of 3-4 mths.
Hay: Always feed your rabbit clean dry timothy or bermuda grass hay. Moldy wet hay can kill a rabbit. Alfalfa is too "hot" or high in calcium and protein and can cause health problems if fed with a pellet. Hay should be available for your rabbit at all times to keep his digestive system healthy and to prevent boredom.
Water: Fresh clean water must be available at all times! It may sound silly but please give your rabbit the same kind of water all the time. That means if you normally give him bottled water, don't suddenly switch to tap water. Most likely it won't cause a problem, but if the chemical makeup of the water is drastically different it could upset his stomach.
Treats: Baby rabbits should not have any treats until they are at least 6 months old. At that time you may start introducing up to one new vegetable every two weeks. During this time pay close attention to make sure your rabbit does not develop diarrhea, act lethargic, or have any other changes in health or behavior. If he does stop feeding the new treat immediately and call a veterinarian if his condition does not improve immediately. No iceberg lettuce or celery EVER!! Fruit should only ever be given in very small amounts as it is high in natural sugar.
Chew Toys: Your rabbit needs to chew to keep his teeth a healthy length and it gives him something to help pass the time when you can't play. Many chew toys are available at pet stores. Please only buy toys that are labeled for rabbits. You can also make you own chew toys out of non-chemically treated wood. This can be as simple as a 1x2 or 2x2 board cut to lengths easy for your rabbit to handle (4"-8") Sticks from non-poisonous rabbit-friendly trees that have not been sprayed with pesticides also make good chew toys.
Play Toys: Rabbits are smart and love toys that can move. These can be commercially made rabbit friendly toys found in stores or homemade toys. Our rabbits enjoy playing with empty paper or paper towel rolls stuffed with hay and wiffle balls stuffed with hay.
Litter box: Once your rabbit is used to his new surroundings he will begin using the same corner of his cage to relieve himself almost every time he needs to go. If you'd like to put a litter box in that corner, chances are he'll use it. Be sure to never use "clumping" or scented litter as it could be hazardous to your bunny, rabbit safe litter is best.
Grooming: Rabbit need their nails clipped regularly or they will grow long and sharp becoming a unhealthy nuisance to your rabbit and a hazard to you. It is very simple to do yourself with an inexpensive pair of dog nail clippers. If your rabbit has clear nails you will be able to see the quick, or growing part of the nail which is filled with blood. If your rabbits nail are dark clip a little at a time and try to stop before hitting the quick. Do not clip the quick of the nail or your rabbit will bleed. Always have blood stop on hand just in case even experienced caretakers will sometimes hit the quick. Start by gently restraining your rabbit (it helps to have an assistant) and pulling up one paw. Then examine nails to determine where the the quick ends. Isolate one nail and clip. Repeat until you've clipped every nail. This is really simpler than it sounds. It is easiest if you can have the breeder you buy your rabbit from show you how to clip nails or if you take the rabbit to a groomer or your veterinarian they can do it for you or show you how it's done.
Cleaning the cage: You must only use very gentle natural cleaners to clean a rabbits cage. Rabbits are very chemical sensitive and should never be exposed to harsh household cleaners or the residue they leave behind. We recommend cleaning with white vinegar and rinsing thoroughly.
Handling your bunny: The way you pick up and hold your new rabbit can instill trust and comfort in your new friend or startle and disturb your bunny. Ask for a demonstration of how to pick up and hold your bunny when you pick them up from the breeder, then practice, practice, practice. You will get to know your bunny and it's favorite positions the more time you spend together. Note that most rabbits do not like to be handled for long periods of time.
Dental Care We all need to take care of our teeth, but that is especially true in the case of pet rabbits. The most common complaint is overgrown molars and enamel spurs that grow from teeth. These spurs generally develop because rabbits aren't eating enough forage and hay. These naturally-abrasive, fiber-rich foods are important because they wear down the teeth Rabbits' teeth grow continuously by an astonishing 2mm every week, or 10-12cm every year, a lack of fiber in the diet means that problems can quickly develop. Left untreated, uneven or insufficiently worn molars can lead to secondary complaints. Even if dental disease has already been diagnosed, the Excel Feeding Plan or correct feeding, can aid the chances of recovery and stop problems deteriorating further.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is highly contagious and most often fatal. The disease can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, contaminated food, water, bedding, cages, hutches, etc as well as by insects such as fleas and flies. Symptoms of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease can include lethargy, collapsing, convulsions, lack of co-ordination, paralysis, breathing difficulties, bloody discharge from the nose, jaundice, weight loss, fever and groaning. Rabbits usually die within a 12-36 of showing symptoms and there is no cure. However, in some cases infected rabbits may show no symptoms at all and may simply appear to drop dead.
Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease and although often associated with wild rabbits, domestic rabbits are also at risk. Myxomatosis can be transmitted by biting insects such as fleas, mosquitoes, mites, etc as well as direct contact with infected rabbits or hares. Myxomatosis is most often fatal and affected rabbits often die within 2 weeks of contracting the disease. The symptoms of the classic form Myxomatosis are runny eyes developing into severe conjunctivitis that results in blindness, swollen genitals, swelling in the head, thick pus discharge from the nose, swollen eyes and lumps on the body. Myxomatosis is most often fatal and as the disease causes severe suffering euthanasia is usually recommended upon diagnosis. However, pet rabbits can be, and should be, vaccinated against Myxomatosis. Rabbits can be vaccinated as young as 6 weeks of age and any rabbit should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis every six months. Although vaccinated rabbits may still contract Myxomatosis, the disease is much less severe in vaccinated rabbits and it may simply result in the rabbit being a bit unwell or developing a lump on the skin. In vaccinated rabbits Myxomatosis is often treatable and but may still be fatal.
Vaccination against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease must not be done within 2 weeks of vaccination against Myxomatosis.
Worming: Wormer for rabbits, Panacur®Rabbit is an oral paste. As an aid in the control of Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Intestinal worms in rabbits. Easy to use. Idealy you pet should be treated twice a year. One tube will worm two medium sized rabbits. Often overlooked, the protozoan Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi) affects up to 50 per cent of all domesticated rabbits and can lead to convulsions, kidney damage, blindness, ataxia and sudden onset head tilt, cataracts, hind limb paralysis, urinary incontinence and sometimes death if left un-treated. Encephalitozoon cuniculi is a single celled parasite The disease is spread by spores shed in the urine of infected rabbits and is usually ingested in contaminated food. Spores can also be spread transplacentally or inhaled. Rabbits with E. cuniculi can carry the disease without showing any clinical signs and potentially spread it to other species such as guinea pigs that live with rabbits. To help control E. cuniculi and intestinal worms in rabbits, Intervet UK has launched Panacur®Rabbit, an easy to administer paste that should be administered daily for nine consecutive days, two times a year. Rabbits should also be dosed during periods of higher risk, such as when the rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when mixing with others. Panacur Rabbit should be administered orally by squeezing the paste from the syringe into the side of the mouth. 1 syringe graduation per 2.5 kg bodyweight should be administered daily for 9 consecutive days. Dosing is recommended 2 times a year and at times of higher risk, such as when the rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when mixing with other rabbits.
Mites, Lice and Fleas Many small animals become infected with fleas, lice and mites by their own siblings, other animals or even bedding or its surroundings. When rabbits suffer from lice this can lead to the following symptoms, depending on the severity of the infection: itchiness, hair loss, crusts and sometimes skin ulcers. The nits and eggs that stick to the hair of the rabbit, stand out. You will mostly find them on the back and the side of your rabbit and they indicate poor care and housing. Fleas are generally spread via wild rabbits and they can also bite people. The female flea latches onto rabbits’ ears and will cause itchiness and sometimes allergic reactions. Rabbits can also play host to cat fleas, so look out for these if your rabbits and cats mix. You can treat your pets with Small Animal Insecticidal Spray. The living quarters, should also be treated. You can do this by removing all the bedding and using a good disinfectant. The term “scabies” is generally used for mite infections of the skin. Rabbits of all ages can suffer from scabies. The mites live off flakes of skin. Most of the time, they cause itchiness, which causes agitation and the animals start scratching and biting, which may lead to skin infections. Other symptoms are a poor coat, dandruff and eczema. Ear mite infections are far more serious for rabbits. They are common and very contagious. The mite causes serious itchiness, scratching and causes the rabbit to frequently shake and tilt its head. In the longer term, crusts may form in the auditory canal, under which is a bloody, purulent infection. If the infection breaks through to the middle ear and the cerebral membranes, this might lead to problems with balance, convulsions or epilepsy. If your rabbit is suffering from ear mites, you should seek veterinary help. To prevent your rabbit from becoming infected with ear mites, you can keep its ears clean with an Ear Cleaner. You can fight all species of external parasites with Anti Parasite Spot on this is also effective against internal parasites, such as roundworms and whip worms. A pet suffering from worms will lose a lot of weight. Its condition will deteriorate and so will its resistance to other diseases.