Care instructions for Rabbits

Pasningsvejledning for Kanin

We need a rabbit - what should we do & what should we use?

First of all, a BIG thank you for reading up on what it takes to keep a rabbit, it is the first and most important step to ensure your rabbit has as good and long a life as possible ❤️

In this rabbit care guide, we go through the points that we believe should be mentioned and that you should be aware of before and after you have acquired a rabbit. This is not a perfect list and you can always learn more and other ways, however, you must always use common sense and ensure your rabbit has the best possible conditions and therefore we also always recommend talking to your vet or another person with a professional training in the care of animals, including rabbits. It is important not to take everything you read on the Internet as true before you ensure that professionals such as a veterinarian are involved.

And one of the first things to think about is that a cage is only for living, a rabbit needs space and therefore should not sit in its cage all day.

A cage is a place where it can seek safety, sleep if it wants to, etc. If you are thinking of getting a rabbit, remember that it must have LOTS of space and exercise.

So we only recommend rabbits to families who are ready to keep "free rabbit", which means you have your rabbit outside and give it plenty of opportunity to live out its natural environment, which i.a. means digging and gnawing.

But back to our "Care instructions for Rabbits" we can start by saying that a Rabbit is not the easiest animal to keep, it is not difficult either, but there are a number of things you need to be aware of, as with all others animals ;-)

But first general information about the animal. A rabbit is an active animal and in nature will be most active at dusk and at night. They typically grow between 30-50cm and weigh between 1-3kg, but this varies greatly from breed to breed. Rabbits can live up to 12 years old, and in captivity typically 5-9 years, which is something you have to think about before choosing to get a rabbit.

And rabbits require space and are best outside in a larger facility, where they can dig, make burrows and get the exercise they should get, and if you choose to keep your rabbit indoors, as mentioned before, we only recommend that you get a rabbit as "free rabbit", where they walk freely all day and in this way get the exercise and "experiences" they should get. Therefore, we ALWAYS recommend that you only see your rabbit's cage as "Stay" and security when you are not at home and this cage is on mine. 120x80cm, you should therefore NOT buy a rabbit if you do not have the opportunity to have a cage of this size or larger and you are ready to have them outside most of the day.

If you keep them in the garden, which is the best, then it is important to fox/rat secure their rabbit cage / run, the building materials must therefore be solid with e.g. spot-welded wire so the cage can withstand foxes, mink, rats and stray dogs. If you build an enclosure/run outside, both the bottom and sides must also be secured against attack, but also against the rabbit digging itself out. And remember to give them plenty of space so they can really enjoy themselves. You must remember that it is us who choose to keep them and therefore you must also do everything you can to give them plenty of opportunities to get as close to their nature as possible and that is why we also recommend rabbits to people with a garden, as a rabbit in nature will dig and dig a lot, it will make large underground systems and it will run around quickly, which requires space and yes soil, something that indoors can be difficult to live up to. ALTHOUGH it is not impossible to keep rabbits indoors, as mentioned, you just have to make sure they are outside most of the day and can run around and enjoy themselves, without being damaged by wires etc.

And quickly about "Breeding", a rabbit is pregnant for 29-35 weeks and gives birth to between 2 and 12 cubs, which must stay with there mother until they are 7 weeks old according to animal protection, we give them one more week if not their mom is way too tired of them ;-)

Recommended size and layout of facility or cage

rabbit in outdoor cage

A rabbit also lives in nature in colonies - it doesn't have a partner or, like guinea pigs, lives VERY close together, but it lives in large colonies, you can call it communities, where they live together, which helps to protect them from predators and of course makes "breeding" a little easier, which they are happy about :-) So they are not together in the way you might imagine, but live in colonies and each has its own territory, which also means they need good space .

Rabbits are both social animals and very territorial. In nature, many of them live together, but in a large area, where they can get away from aggressive species, can each have their own place of residence, etc. Hank rabbits have a hierarchy among themselves, so that some dominate others. This is particularly pronounced if there are females nearby. Female rabbits will have nests and young in their own private burrows. The conditions we offer them in small cages and small outdoor facilities cannot be compared to the free nature. As small cubs, they get along well, but rabbits can mate already at 8 weeks of age. If you have several rabbits of both sexes and do not want young, you can have the vet castrate the males or sterilize the females, so that you avoid them having young approximately once a month. Otherwise, it is recommended that you have a large cage, which is divided in the middle with wire, so that they can see each other, sniff each other, lick each other, lie close, but they cannot harm each other. Often you can leave them together in a neutral place where neither of them feels it is their territory. Some rabbits enjoy the family dog, cat, guinea pig or hamster.

Rabbits' natural needs are best met in larger outdoor facilities (min. 9 m2, but preferably larger) in a dry and protected area with plenty of hiding places and with free access to a house/cage protected from wind and weather (min. 120 x 80 cm) for each individual. The house must be shielded/closed completely on three sides + min. 1/3 of the fourth page. The facility must be in good quality aviary netting, closed from above and secured from below so that predators cannot enter and the rabbits cannot escape by digging out. Drafts and noise nuisance must generally be avoided at the facility.

The bottom layer in an outdoor plant must consist of soil with leaves, grass, branches, roots, etc. on top, and there must always be opportunities for shade, e.g. in the form of trees and shrubs. If the individuals are nevertheless aggressive towards each other, they can either be let out alternately into the outdoor area, or this can be divided with wire mesh, so that the animals have contact, but cannot harm each other. Neutralization can also be a possible solution
(see sections 8 and 9). If you do not have the opportunity to build a large outdoor facility, as described above, rabbits can also be kept free-ranging indoors as so-called "house rabbits". With a little training, rabbits can easily learn to use a litter box to feed in. If the rabbits are neutered, they typically will not urine mark their territory, and as long as they have hiding options, are sufficiently activated and have the opportunity to dig and gnaw, they usually will not destroy furniture and wiring. With these considerations, rabbits can be kept free-range indoors without the use of a cage.

As mentioned, a cage should only be used as a place where the rabbit can hide, rest and protect itself and not for permanent residence. A cage must be mine. 120 x 80 cm per individual, preferably larger, and high enough that the animal can sit upright on its hind legs without problems. The bottom of the cage must be firm and the bottom layer must be made of hay and straw. If the rabbit does not have the opportunity to go out of the cage when it chooses to do so, it must be taken out daily during its active periods to a larger area where it can dig and have contact with a fellow species. If this cannot be accommodated on a daily basis, rabbits must be housed in facilities/areas where they can move freely over a larger area (either in larger outdoor facilities or as free-ranging house rabbits, however, outdoor facilities are preferable). Feed residues and excrement must be removed and fresh water provided daily. The bottom of a cage must be cleaned weekly.

The guidelines measure and area:
These measurements are only approx. measurements as everyone is different and the area mentioned is only for residence and not the place they will spend the rest of their lives.

Dwarf races
(0.7 - 1.9 kg) Area: 0.5 m2 / Depth: 60 cm / Width: 80 cm / Height: 50 cm

Small breeds
(1.9 - 3.2 kg) Area: 0.75m2 / Depth: 70 cm / Width: 110 cm / Height: 60 cm

Medium-sized breeds
(3.2 - 4.0 kg) Area: 1.00 m2 / Depth: 80 cm / Width: 125 cm / Height: 70 cm

Large races
(4.0 - 5.5 kg) Area: 1.25 m2 / Depth: 80 cm / Width: 160 cm / Height: 80 cm

Giant races
(5.5 - 9.9 kg) Area: 1.50 m2 / Depth: 80 cm / Width: 190 cm / Height: 80 cm

Special care needs, including special requirements for temperature conditions

rabbits making burrows

The rabbit is a very clean animal. If it goes clean and dry, it keeps itself clean. However, the long-haired rabbit breeds require fur care with a brush. The Angora rabbit must be clipped every 3 months. Claws should be clipped every 3-6 months. Get someone who can show you the first time. The rabbit can stay outside in a cage in even the most severe frost without any problems, as long as it has a good layer of dry straw and there is no draft. On the other hand, the rabbit has difficulty coping with the sun and high temperatures. It must always be able to find shade, and its cage must not be in direct sunlight. Clean straw should be given in the cage almost every day, and the mud should be removed often, both for the sake of the rabbit and to avoid fly infestations in the summer.

In outdoor facilities, there must therefore always be access to a house/cage where the animals can seek shelter from wind and weather and shade on hot days. If the animals have the opportunity to dig underground passages and caves, and if they have access to a protected house with plenty of straw and hay to warm themselves in, they can basically manage to be outdoors all year round. In severe winters, you must be especially aware that there is always plenty
hay and straw in the house and possibly on top of the ground as an insulating layer over the walkway system. At freezing temperatures, the drinking water should be changed at least 2-3 times a day.

In indoor facilities, it is important that the temperature does not exceed 25 °C, as rabbits can otherwise get heat stroke. Therefore, it is also important that there are always several shading options available in an outdoor facility.

If rabbits are kept free-ranging indoors, it is important to secure the home so that they cannot be damaged by cables etc. or become trapped.

If rabbits are kept outdoors with digging possibilities, the claws usually wear down sufficiently - otherwise they typically need to be clipped regularly (never clip into the blood vessels; otherwise get the vet to do it).

There may be special care needs for the various breeds, e.g. as mentioned, angora rabbits' fur must be cared for several times a day. Always familiarize yourself thoroughly with the specific grooming needs of the individual breed.

Stimulation and need for exercise

Rabbits need employment. Straw from grain (not seed grass straw) as bedding and hay for eating are good pastimes. Vegetables and some fruit (but be careful with the fruit), dry bread in limited quantities, i.e. food that needs to be gnawed, is good, fresh branches from trees without stone fruit should be available as often as possible, but avoid shrubs and flowers from the ornamental garden , many are poisonous. Spruce and pine branches are good, but all parts of yew are very poisonous.

ALL rabbits need to get out of the cage and run around outside. But be careful inside the house, rabbits love electrical wires, and they are deadly to gnaw on. If you get the rabbit used to it from a young age, you can also go for a walk with it in a harness and leash, but if you go on the road, watch out for dogs .

Feeding

rabbit with greens

The feed should consist of rabbit pellets or other good rabbit slurry - but avoid the so-called "müsli mixes" for rabbits, they have water, hay, straw and greens in addition to this rabbit slurry. rabbit bleating/rabbit pills for rabbits have the vitamins and minerals that the rabbit needs. Rodent mixtures with e.g. corn, sunflowers, carob bread are too fatty and should at most be given as "Friday sweets". Rabbit bleating/rabbit pellets are only fed once a day, and it must be eaten before the next feeding, otherwise the rabbit will get too much. Straw and hay should always be present in the cage, and fresh water should be provided every day. From weeds, vegetables and fruit, almost anything can be used for the rabbit, but it is not certain that it will eat everything. wire so that the cage can withstand foxes, mink.

You have to be careful with lettuce, white cabbage, Chinese cabbage etc. , it contains the most water and easily causes a thin stomach. A few weeds such as sedge are poisonous. You should never feed wet greens. As a general rule, it can be said that you should always start by giving a little and then you can increase the amount gradually. This also applies to the first dandelions and grass in the spring. Make sure you don't give more than the rabbit can eat quite quickly, so that it doesn't lie at the bottom of the cage and get hogged.

As mentioned, it is best to keep one's rabbits in larger outdoor facilities with lots of hiding places, gnawing opportunities, the possibility to dig passages in the ground and with contact with fellow species, they are generally stimulated sufficiently. In the wild, rabbits spend many hours a day looking for food, and the food should be placed in different places in the facility so that they are activated by looking for it. Rabbits kept indoors should have their rabbit pellets served in e.g. a food ball or similar, and the food is spread out, so that they are also challenged and stimulated by having to search for the food and use effort to get hold of it. In an optional cage, vegetables can be hung at the top so that the rabbit has to stand on its hind legs to reach it. Indoor rabbits should have fresh branches to gnaw on, cardboard boxes and the like that can be used as dens, as well as toys that stimulate and activate them.

Rabbits are prey animals and will therefore generally be afraid of being lifted, especially if it happens from above. Therefore, only handle rabbits when necessary. With excessive handling, there is a risk that an otherwise tame rabbit will start to bite in defense or become hand-shy.

Rabbits are most easily tamed by handling them daily from a young age. Domesticated rabbits are lifted with one hand under the chest, while the other hand supports under the hindquarters. Lifting of the neck skin should always be avoided. Always handle rabbits calmly, even when putting them down. Rabbits can be trained to do tricks and call, and this can be a stimulating activity for the animals.

Lagomorphs, including rabbits, are physiologically adapted to a life as sprinters. Using their long, powerful hind legs, rabbits can quickly jump to a high speed and change direction suddenly, and at the sign of a predator's presence, they will quickly sprint back into cover in their gait system.

Rabbits' physiology means that they need a lot of exercise on a daily basis, through both movement and digging. This need is best met in a larger outdoor facility or by keeping them free-range indoors (Section 4). If they are kept in closed cages, they must be able to exercise several hours a day in a larger area (min. 9 m2), where they also have the opportunity to dig. If this cannot be ensured, it is necessary to keep them in facilities or in areas where their daily need for exercise can be met. Special rabbit harnesses can also be bought so that they can go for a walk outside - the harnesses, however, require some getting used to.

Rabbits can gnaw on wires and poisonous plants, so remove this when the rabbit runs free indoors and give them plenty of other things to gnaw on (fresh branches, hay). However, gnawing on furniture, plants and wires is rarely seen if the rabbits have plenty of fresh branches to gnaw on.

Propagation, brood care and eventual neutralization

baby rabbits

The rabbit is pregnant for 29-35 days and has 2-12 young. A few days before giving birth – the time varies – the female collects straw for a nest and lines it with fur from her belly skin. The female usually does not need any help to give birth. The young are born naked, blind and totally helpless. The cubs only nurse 1-2 times a day, the milk is fatter and more nutritious than whipped cream. In a few days, the fur grows out, and at 12 days old the eyes are opened. The young remain in the nest until they are 2-3 weeks old, and as soon as they emerge, they can eat the same food as the female. The cubs should be at least 7 weeks, but preferably 8 weeks if they have not been pushed away by their mother (remember, however, they are sexually mature at 3-4 months of age) before they are taken from the female and litter siblings.

As you probably know, rabbits are known for being able to reproduce quickly. This is due to early sexual maturity (at the age of 3-4 months), high probability of pregnancy (ovulation occurs during mating), large litters many times a year, the ability to cope with pregnancy/offspring for the majority of the year, as well as a social organization where lean are readily available.

The dominant males will typically mate with several females, while the lower ranking individuals are often seen to form more permanent pairs. Rabbits signal that they are ready to mate by marking various objects with scents from glands on their cheeks. In captivity, the female must be at least 8 months old before she has her first litter, and as a rule, a female must have a maximum of a couple of litters per year to avoid overcrowding.

The mother will be able to mate again immediately after birth, which is why the mother must be separated from sexually mature males after mating. The young are born in the wild in a nest underground, which the mother has dug and lined. In captivity, a nest box should also be provided.

The newborn cubs are blind and naked, but they develop relatively quickly. The mother returns to the nest daily for the first few weeks so the young can nurse. At 4-5 weeks old, they spend more time outside the nest and gradually begin to eat solid food. The smaller breeds typically become sexually mature earlier than the larger ones.

The young should be removed from the mother at the earliest when they are 7-8 weeks old.

If young are not desired, it may be a good idea to neuter sexually mature rabbits (see the box on the right). Males can be neutered at 3-5 months of age, and females can be spayed at approx. 4 months old and/or at a weight of approx. 1 kg. For intact rabbits, pairings between closely related individuals (e.g. sibling pairs) must always be avoided to prevent inbreeding that can have negative consequences for the offspring.

Typical signs of illness and reduced well-being

As a general rule, you can say that a rabbit that does not eat is sick. Sick rabbits sit quietly and seem uninterested, they can often become a little bristly, they have dull eyes and sit and hunch a bit/arch their backs.

In the following, the most common diseases are mentioned.

Intestinal inflammation caused by improper feeding or infection with parasites.

Mild diarrhea or constipation can often be managed with a diet consisting of hay and water, i.e. without the addition of rabbit pills. If it continues, the rabbit should be taken to the vet.

Pneumonia, where the rabbit becomes very short of breath and with snot from the nostrils. The rabbit needs to see a vet as soon as possible if it is to be saved.

The teeth of rabbits grind themselves up against each other, but some rabbits' teeth grow wildly due to a hereditary defect or an injury. As the teeth grow very quickly, in a short time they will be able to disturb the rabbit greatly, and it will be unable to eat anything that needs to be bitten. If you are in doubt, you should take the rabbit to the vet to have the teeth checked .

These care instructions have been drawn up on the basis of information from Denmark's Rabbit Breeders' Association ( www.kaniner.dk ) and Dyrenes Beskyttelse ( www.dyrenesbeskyttelse.dk ).

Read the animal protection care instructions for rabbits here: Click here to see the pdf

The care instructions contain general information about the care of an animal species/animal group.

Further information can be found in the library or on the above and other websites.

The professional content of the care instructions was approved by the Council regarding the keeping of special animals on 6.12.2013 in accordance with the executive order on commercial trade in animals and these care instructions for rabbits have been updated from the Animal Protection care instructions called "3rd version February 2014.".

If you are looking for the products you can buy for your rabbit or other rodent, then you should look here Category for Rabbit and other rodents, here you will find 100s of products made for rabbits and other rodents.

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