Rabbits are now regarded as 'exotic pets' due to their unique digestive systems, needs and behaviours - far from a cute cuddly
children's pet. They need a carefully balanced diet, adequate space to play and live in, exercise, regular preventative healthcare
and most importantly, a friend to live with.
Take a look at our downloadable care guide below and keep it for future reference. Click on the link below to download our guide.
If you can't download it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will email it to you instead.
1. Learn as much as you can!
As well as our guide above, a great resource of information can be found on the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) website.
- Rabbits do not generally
make good children's pets as they don't enjoy being picked up and cuddled. Adults should always be responsible for their day-to-day care
- They can live up to 10
- They need large enclosures
- a hutch is not enough
- Vet bills can be expensive
and come unexpected
2. Get your rabbit's housing set up.
3m x 2m of unbroken floor space with 1m
height is the absolute minimum the RWAF have set for rabbit housing (although groups or larger breeds will require more space). This is now the absolute
minimum housing requirement that rescues can adopt out to.
We feel that if the enclosure is the only space
the buns have access to, it should be around 3m x 3m in size. This can be achieved by attaching a run to a shed via a cat flap or an aviary with
a large hutch (permanently open) inside. Rabbits are active throughout the day and night broken up by periods of napping, so it is important that they have 24/7
access to the full enclosure, which must be fully predator-proof (min. 16 guage wire with max. 13mm holes for outdoor rabbits). You can find a few examples of
setups we have rehomed to on our rabbit accomodation page here.
It’s important rabbits have access to somewhere insulated to hide from the elements
if housed outdoors. Hay and straw make great insulation and microwave heat pads are ideal for very cold nights. Provide litter trays with bunny friendly litter (
back2nature, megazorb or care fresh are some recommendations. Please avoid wood based litters or sawdust).
3. Get the right food
Rabbits need 80% hay, 10% veggies, 5% good quality pellets (not muesli, as this can cause an unbalanced diet) and 5% healthy treats. This will help keep teeth (which grow constantly)
and gut in good working order. Burgess Excel (Adult or Junior/Mini), Science Selective and Protexin Profibre are all good quality pellets.
4. Get a friend
We don’t rehome rabbits singly, unless you already have a bunny that needs a friend. Even with human company, these
highly social species can become extremely stressed when kept alone. Whilst having a companion may cost slightly more in food and produce more droppings, the benefits for your pet
far outweigh the disadvantages. Getting your rabbit a neutered friend is the single thing you can do to make the greatest difference to his quality of life. When you adopt with us we
ask that when one of your companion pair passes away, you either agree to adopt a new companion for them or return them to us so we can rehome them in a new pair. That way we can help to ensure that
each rabbit has the best possible quality of life, even in their older years.
We don't rehome rabbits and guinea pigs to live together.
4. Get a local ‘rabbit-savvy’ vet
Rabbits are regarded as
‘exotic’ and many vets don’t have more than basic knowledge about how to treat them. It is worth finding a vet who is used to treating rabbits so you know that yours will receive the
best and most up to date care. Once you have found one, request prices for the cost of a consultation, vaccinations* and worming/mite treatments. This will help you to
plan annual preventative healthcare costs.
*Your rabbit needs to be vaccinated against both Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) - a combination vaccine exists for this. However, an additional strain of VHD (RVHD2) has also been
identified, and this is also highly contagious and almost always fatal. A vaccine is now available in the UK, so please ask your vet to also discuss with you vaccinating against this strain
5. Consider pet insurance
vet bills can be large! Rabbit insurance is typically around £12 per month (correct Jul 2020) and Pet Plan
can provide a comprehensive package. If you decided against insurance, it may be worth putting aside some money each month, to help pay for unexpected vet bills.
6. Learn the signs that your rabbit is
Rabbits are prone to a variety of health issues and are good at hiding illness and pain until it is often too late, so our philosophy is ‘If in doubt, get it checked out!’
If a rabbit stops eating or passing droppings (which should be fairly large and golden brown) for more than 12 hours, this is a medical
emergency called G.I (gut) Stasis and they need immediate veterinary attention. Without constant movement of fibre through the gut, the digestive system stops working and other
organs also begin to shut down very quickly.
Rabbits can also suffer with dental issues, due to lack of hay in the diet (either in the past or present), so if you think your rabbit is having trouble eating
(losing weight, dribbling or dropping food), please ask your vet to take a look.