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Rabbits and Caged Pets

Close up of RabbitGot a new pet rabbit? This page was written to help answer any questions you may have. But if you are at all unsure about any aspect of your rabbits care, please contact us.

Basic facts

  • Life span: 6-13 years
  • Puberty: 4-5 months in small breeds, 5-8 months in large breeds
  • Gestation: 30-32 days
  • Litter size: average 5-8¬†

Feeding recommendations

  • Introduce new foods gradually
  • Good quality hay or grass should be available at all times
  • No more than 2-3% of the rabbit’s bodyweight of pelleted or cereal mixes should be fed daily
  • Feed a wide range of vegetables every day (give fruit and succulent vegetables in moderation)

Safe cultivated plants for rabbits

  • Apple
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Carrot tops
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower leaves
  • Chicory
  • Coriander
  • Corncobs
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (in moderation)
  • Parsley
  • Pea pods
  • Pear
  • Parsnips
  • Radish

Turnips and spinach should not be fed more than once a week due to their oxalate content.

(Note that this list is not exhaustive.)

Vaccinations

Myxomatosis

  • Primary vaccination: one injection from 6 weeks of age or older
  • Booster vaccination: one injection every 6 months recommended (particularly in high risk areas such as Northamptonshire)

Myxomatosis is a fatal viral disease in the European rabbit, and unfortunately very common in the UK. Pet rabbits can contract the disease by contact with infected wild rabbits or via infected insect arthropods, most commonly the European rabbit flea, but it can also be spread by mosquitoes.

The peak incidence of Myxomatosis occurs in the summer months.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

  • Primary vaccination: one injection from¬†five weeks of age or older
  • Booster vaccination: one injection every 12 months
  • This injection is safe for pregnant does

VHD is a highly infectious lethal disease of rabbits with a high fatality rate.

VHD is caused by a virus and is spread by oral, nasal and parenteral transmission. It is present in the urine and faeces of infected rabbits.

The disease can present as sudden death but classically presents with a rabbit struggling to breath with a bloody nasal discharge.

This virus is very hardy and can kill rabbits a long way from an outbreak area.

Vaccination is highly recommended.

Neutering

Castration and spaying is highly recommended from the age of 4-5 months. Neutering prevents unwanted pregnancies and permits both sexes to be housed together. Male aggression is reduced or abolished so fight and bite wounds are minimised. In addition female reproductive disorders such as uterine tumours and infections, frequently seen in the middle ages doe are prevented.

Neutering also modifies scent marking by spraying urine or depositing faeces.

Worming and flea treatment

Regular flea and worming treatments are recommended for rabbits as for cats and dogs. Please contact the surgery for more details.

Dental disease

Rabbits have aradicular hypsodont teeth which means their teeth continually grow throughout their life. The teeth are only worn down by the constant chewing of food. If cheek teeth become overgrown they can start to rub and dig into the rabbit’s oral soft tissue causing very painful sores and ulcers. Regular rabbit dental check ups are advisable to identify these problems as soon as they occur.

Malocclusions are very common in both the incisors and cheek teeth. Teeth need burring to restore as best as possible the normality of the mouth and to aid eating and prevent discomfort. This is certainly something we have got very good at over the years at Towcester Veterinary Centre!