Sheffield vet offers advice about UK’s fourth most popular pet during special awareness week

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To coincide with Rabbit Awareness Week ending on 1st July, White Cross Vets in Handsworth and Balby has compiled a list of golden rules that rabbit owners should follow in order to ensure that the fourth most popular pet in the UK enjoys a happy and healthy life.

Experienced vet, Tom Ward, from White Cross Vets, said: “Rabbits make fantastic pets but they can be good at hiding signs of illness, so owners should be vigilant and take notice of any changes in either their behaviour or general health.

“Most common health issues in rabbits are preventable with the right guidance and knowledge, which our team are always happy to advise on. We’re also regularly asked about rabbit behaviour and their social requirements, which can be a complex issue.

“Generally, rabbits are social pets and enjoy having appropriate company otherwise they can become sad and depressed if they’re kept on their own. It’s also important to keep them occupied or else their health can suffer. Rabbits are usually happiest living with another friendly rabbit, but the wrong pairing can result in unwanted pregnancies and fighting.”

A rabbit during Rabbit Awareness WeekA rabbit during Rabbit Awareness Week
A rabbit during Rabbit Awareness Week

White Cross Vets has compiled a list of 10 top tips for rabbit owners and anyone thinking about welcoming a pet rabbit into their family:-

  • Housing – in the wild, rabbits often live in large groups in sprawling warrens. Ideally, a pair of rabbits require a space that’s 3m by 2m at the very minimum.
  • Indoor rabbits – rabbits can be house trained and free to roam the home or else some owners prefer to create an indoor pen or keep them in a certain room. Research also suggests neutered rabbits are easier to litter train. However, certain house plants can be poisonous, and rabbits like to chew, so certain objects, including electrical wires, need to be out of their way!
  • Outdoor rabbits – The more space they have the better, and they’ll happily live in a converted garden shed or hutch that ideally gives them outdoor access, so they can wander in and out as they please. However, it’s important to make sure their home is weatherproof and warm with extra bedding during the winter months, also keep in mind that rabbits often struggle in damp conditions.
  • Predators – It’s vitally important to make sure that their hutch is sturdy enough to protect against even the most determined predator, which could include both foxes and badgers.
  • Wild instincts – although they’re bred to look like pets with different colours and breeds to what you see in the wild, they often still have wild instincts and life can be all about survival, with them remaining alert to their surroundings. This is why some rabbits don’t like being handled and might hide when you approach them.
  • Longevity – People are often surprised how long pet rabbits can live and they typically live between eight to 12 years old, so you need to be prepared for the long-term.
  • Guinea pigs – Experts used to say rabbits and guinea pigs made good living partners, but we now know they should be kept apart. They communicate differently, eat different diets and can fight.
  • Teeth – Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously which can cause problems. However, most of these are preventable and eating a proper diet should keep them healthy.
  • Diet – Fresh, clean drinking water and good quality hay and grass makes up most of a rabbit’s diet, along with a few leafy greens and pellets. Root vegetables, such as carrots, and fruit can also be given in small portions as a treat.
  • Exercise – Rabbits have lots of energy that they need to burn off, so they need plenty of exercise. They’re also very curious, so being able to walk and run around gives them plenty of mental stimulation as well.

White Cross Vets has been caring for pets for 85 years. Established in West Yorkshire in 1937 it now employs a 300 strong team across 21 practices in the UK.

The Star Lifestyle I News