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How do I take care of rabbits, Ascot Vet?


*For non-QLD readers only. Rabbits and ferrets are banned in QLD!


I just adopted a rabbit, how should I take care of it, Ascot Vet?


Rabbits can be housed outdoors or indoors. There are a variety of hutches available in the local pet shops but many are either too small or have the potential to cause harm to your rabbits.

What kind of enclosures should I use for my rabbit, Ascot Vet?

The minimum requirements for a rabbit to live comfortably in a hutch include:

1) Rabbits should be able to stand up fully on their hind limbs and take at least 3 hops. Generally this is around 2m by 2m wide and by 1m high per rabbit.

2) The hutch should be constructed in materials that are easy to clean. It must be chew-proof. Avoid wire mesh floors.

3) Well ventilated to stop build up of ammonia.

4) Hutches should be placed in a dry, draught and rain free area. This area should also be insulated to maintain an ambient temperature of 14-25 degrees Celsius. Heat stress is a common fatal illness in rabbits.

5) A place to mount drinking water bottles. This is preferable to water bowls as the bottles are less likely to become soiled and minimises unnecessary wetting of the enclosure.

Does my rabbit need any exercise, Ascot Vet?

All rabbits require daily exercise to maintain good physical and mental health. It is recommended to allow 4 hours of "roaming" time. You can supervise them outside of their hutches or you can allow your rabbit free reign of a house or apartment. It is important to rabbit-proof your place first before doing this as electrocution, ingestion of toxic plants and damage to furnitures are common. Provide hiding areas, such as overturned boxes/containers or pipes, for your rabbit within the enclosure or your home to allow them to hide when threatened. If you house your bunny outdoors, remember to put in subterranean wire mesh and high fences to prevent escape via digging or jumping. Outdoor enclosures should have an exercise run no smaller than 4m by 4m wide. Don't forget about protection against mosquitoes, fleas and flies to prevent transmission of myxomatosis and calicivirus.

What kind of litter/substrate I need to give for my rabbit, Ascot Vet?

Many hutches come with wire mesh flooring that can cause pododermatitis. Look for one that does not have this wire mesh and lay the floor with a thick layer of straw or grass hay. You can also use shredded newspaper or recycled paper pellets. Avoid wood shavings as they may cause respiratory problems.

Rabbits can be toilet trained as they like to use the same area for urination and defecation. Provide a cat litter tray and lined it with straw, hay, shredded paper or recycled paper pellets. Make sure you change the litter often to prevent ammonia build up which can irritate eyes and respiratory tracts. Dirty litter trays also cause pododermatitis.

Can I house my rabbit with other animals, Ascot Vet?

Rabbits enjoy the company of other rabbits. However it can be impossible to group two undesexed girls that are not related. Similarly, two intact boys can be difficult too. In general, you will have more success pairing a desexed boy rabbit to a girl rabbit. Same sex pairing of two desexed rabbits can be difficult but not impossible. If you want more than 2 rabbits, try grouping desexed male rabbits together or with intact female rabbits. Be careful when introducing new rabbit into an established group as fights are common. It is not recommended to house rabbits with guinea pigs as rabbits may harbor bacteria that cause fatal diseases in guinea pigs.

Any toys for them, Ascot Vet?

Mental stimulation can come in the form of chewing and throwing toys around. Rabbits also love to investigate new areas. You can create a fun environment by giving cardboard boxes for them to explore and gnaw. Provide a variety of straws, willow/apple tree branches, hard plastic baby/dog toys and wooden toys for your bunnies to munch on. Try hiding hay in toilet rolls for the rabbit to root out or stuffing dried pinecones with treats to make a "rabbit kong".


If you are looking for a trusted Ascot Vet, call (07) 3216 0045 to make an appointment to see Dr Nic at Fortitude Valley Vet.