Thurles: 0504 24401 - Cashel Branch: 062 63492 brittasvethospital@gmail.com

Rabbits

Life span 8-12yrs
Adult bodyweight most rabbits we see at Brittas Vets are fur breeds and
are in general approx 2kg.
Sexual maturity 4-6 months

Housing

Hutch size should be 80cm-1m wide x 40 cm’s deep x 40 cm’s in height for a 2kg rabbit. Hutch height should be 40 cm’s to allow a rabbit to stand up on his hind legs. A nest-box is essential to allow rabbits to hide because they are prey species and can get very distressed if cats or dogs look into the hutch. This should account for approximately 40% of the hutch area.

The floor of the hutch should be burrow proof; wire mesh or timber.
The front of hutch should have predator proof wire.
The front or roof of the hutch should open to facilitate cleaning.
The above specifications for rabbit hutches are very important as some commercially purchased hutches are too small and cause stress and discomfort to the rabbit.

Our shop supplies hutches that we have had made to the above recommended spec.

Bedding should be hay, straw, peat, not shredded newspaper because rabbits tend to eat their bedding and NEVER cotton wool type bedding as we at Brittas Vets have seen terrible injuries when strands of cotton wool wrap around rabbit limbs cutting off blood supply and causing loss of that limb and often death. Hutches should be cleaned out twice weekly.

Rabbits can be housed both indoors and outdoors but the temperatures should not get extremely hot (> 27 C) or extremely cold (< 5C).
Generally we have found that male rabbits are best housed separately, male and female rabbits separately unless neutered and female rabbits may be housed together but mix best if they have been introduced at as young an age as possible.

Diet

Rabbits digestive systems are very fragile and great care should be taken with their diet. Rabbits need to constantly nibble at at food to maintain a healthy digestive system. Therefore a rabbit that is not eating or is showing any sign of digestive disturbance such as diarrhoea should be brought to a Veterinary surgeon ASAP.

Rabbits should be fed rabbit pellets not muesli as rabbits will pick out the bits they prefer and their diet will become unbalanced. Brittas Vets stock Excel Rabbit pellets which are the recommended rabbit food of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the UK.

Rabbits should have ad lib hay or fresh grass, the hay used as bedding is fine as long as it is clean.

Carrots, cabbage and salad crops are also fine.
All food offered to rabbits must be FRESH!
Water bottles can be put up in cages, water needs to be changed daily and a 2kg rabbit will drink approx 200mls of water daily.

Vaccination

Myxomatosis
A viral disease of the wild rabbit population in Ireland and the UK.
Spread by contact with infected animals and by parasites especially fleas.
Causes swelling of the eyelids, head, neck, anus and causes respiratory difficulty. Rabbits usually die.
Vaccinate rabbits from 6 weeks of age with one injection and give a booster every 6 months.
Rabbits will have immunity from myxomatosis 14 days after their vaccination.

Rabbit Viral Haemmorhagic Disease.
A relatively new viral disease of rabbits that appeared in the UK in 1992.
Rabbits under 8 weeks of age are not affected.
Older rabbits may die suddenly, or have clinical signs of hi temp, not eating, lethargy, fits or bleeding from the nose or anus. Most of these rabbits die.
Vaccinate rabbits from 10- 12 weeks with one injection and annual boosters thereafter.

If at anytime there are concerns about increased prevalance of this disease we can vaccinate from 8 weeks giving a second shot 4 weeks later and annual boosters thereafter.

Rabbits will have immunity from VHD 21 days after vaccination.
14 days must be left between the myxomatosis vaccine and the VHD vaccine.
NB. The degree of immunity conferred by any vaccine is variable, depending on a range of factors including those that may stress the animal and influence its response to the vaccine.
We advise rabbit owners to contact Brittas Vets or another Veterinary Surgeon for advice with regard to their specific vaccination requirements.

Flea Control

Flea control in pet rabbits is important because fleas can cause coat problems in rabbits and a flea infestation in the house also has implications for other pets and humans.

REMEMBER that fleas spread myxomatosis from wild rabbits to pet rabbits therefore keeping fleas off domestic rabbits is vital.
Not all flea control products can be used on rabbits so please contact Brittas Vets or another Veterinary Surgeon for advice.

Teeth

Rabbits have 28 teeth, 6 at the front (of which 4 are upper and lower incisors and 2 are upper peg teeth) and 22 at the back which are cheek teeth.

Rabbits teeth continue to grow through out their life and thus constantly nibbling and chewing is fundamental to a rabbits well being. Provide hay, straw, fruit branches and or rabbit toys to facilitate chewing and therefore proper health.

Some rabbits have problems with overgrown teeth that chewing alone does not solve. These rabbits have malocculded upper and lower jaws leading to improper wearing down of the teeth. If only the incisors at the front are overgrown the teeth can be clipped while the rabbit is awake but if the cheek teeth at the back are overgrown then the rabbit will require an anaesthetic and the use of specialised equipment by the Veterinary Surgeon to correct the problem. Because a rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout its life the problem is likely to recur.

If overgrown teeth are not attended to the rabbit will have difficulty eating and drinking and this can very quickly lead to a very sick, collapsed animal.

Neutering

Rabbits are sexually mature between 4-6 months and both males and females can be neutered from this point on. We at Brittas Vets strongly advise that rabbits be brought to their veterinary surgeons at this point for sexing to prevent unwanted litters and aggression.

We at Brittas Vets have found that males are less aggressive after castration.

Reproduction

When breeding rabbits mating should take place in the buck’s hutch with the doe returned to her own hutch after mating. If the doe is not receptive to the buck leave for 24 hrs and try again.

Pregnancy lasts for 33 days.
Average litter size is 7.

Do not disturb the doe and her litter after they are born. Provide food and water and do minimal cleaning. clean the nest box as disturbed does often kill the litter.

Weaning is at 7-8 weeks.