Taking Care of Rabbits - Any Tips? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-09-2011, 05:12 AM
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Continued from Finding a Home for Rabbits (I was fostering rabbits, but decided to look after them permanently). They are two female rex rabbits who are about 10 months old. I have been finding some books and online info about house rabbits, but I thought I'd see if anyone here has any advice as well. I'm used to dogs and cats, but not rabbits.

I'm living with my parents at the moment and our house is pretty big. Most of it is rabbit-proofed and the rest is dealt with simply by keeping certain doors shut. I've gathered that it's normal to keep rabbits locked up for much of the day and only let them out at certain times, but I have just been letting them roam free 24/7. Is this a problem for the rabbits psychologically? Or in terms of them lacking supervision?

The other day they got into a little fight. I didn't see how it started and the action was too fast for me to be able to describe it, except it was nothing like dog or cat playfighting and one of them lost a bit of fur. They stopped as soon as I ran over to break it up. Then one nose bumped the other and they resumed hanging out like normal. Anyone have any idea what that's about or if I should be worried? They seem pretty well bonded and stick together > 50 percent of the time. I am getting them spayed this coming week (assuming they aren't spayed already) if that's relevant. I've heard it can reduce aggression.

I keep reading that rabbits should be fed hay. Does that mean actual hay or rabbit food where hay is the primary ingredient? I have been feeding them mainly rabbit food (hay, corn gluten, corn, beat pulp, vegetables), carrots, lettuce and corn.

Any thoughts on optimal places for their hutch, food, etc.? Any suggestions about things I didn't ask about are welcome too.

I will try to get some pictures up soon.
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#2 Old 10-11-2011, 01:09 AM
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Hah something WRONG with not keeping a rabbit cooped up? No of course not Rabbits should be able to jump and run about, at the very least.

Chewing might be a problem when they're young. Spaying/neutering can help (and completely stopped spraying with my male rabbit too), and provide lots of things they CAN chew - my rabbit loves tea towels, cardboard boxes (big ones we cut a door out of and he can sit in and hide), kitchen roll tubes, plant pots (more for throwing than chewing) are my rabbits favourites, and of fruit wood is good for them to chew, there are lots of rabbit toys and things too but my rabbit turns his nose up at them a bit. We just made a loud clap or said "no" loudly when he chewed things he wasn't supposed to and he picked it up (well, he picked up not to chew them when we were looking anyway...).

I don't know about the fighting. I had two female rabbits, and one pretty much was dominant, and they nipped eachother a lot, but I never saw them fight.I was going to mention spaying though.

We give our rabbit a constant supply of actual hay, which is what is usually reccommended. It's good for them, and good for their teeth (and bordom!) to be able to have something to munch on. Our rabbit eats rabbit food, and fresh fruit and vegetables too to keep things interesting.

The only other thing I can think of is our rabbit had a cage with his litter, food and water in, and a basket with a blanket and toys. I think it's good to give them their own space they can feel safe in. He also really likes anywhere where he is covered from above, prefertably a box he can make his own exit holes in, and that's where he spends a lot of his time. Oh and we use cat litter in his litter tray, BUT some of them are not suitable for rabbits as they have small particles which can cause lung problems, so if you're doing the same only use ones that say "suitable for rabbits" or similar on them. Oh and when he was little he squeezed in places we never dreamed he would fit, and jumped on things we figured were far too high, so be careful and don't underestimate him!

Hope it all goes well.
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#3 Old 10-11-2011, 01:33 PM
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http:\\\
abbit.org is the best resource for this type of information. Here's their link about what to feed rabbits: http://rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html

Don't buy so called rabbit foods with nuts and seeds in them. The plain stuff with just the hay based pellets may look boring, but it's the healthiest thing for them, and most rabbits usually seem to enjoy the taste. Oxbow brand is probably the best respected brand for rabbit pellets and hay. Timothy hay is the default for fresh hay, but other types are usable, too. They hay is good for them nutritionally, and it's also good for their teeth to check on something that they have to chew hard like that, so fresh hay is a must.

Rabbits have a very definite "pecking order" in their social interactions. It sounds like your two may have been fighting over who is the top bunny in the household. Luckily, it also sounds like they've accepted you as their leader, so they're fighting over 2nd place in the household behind you. My sister's first bunny used to fight her for dominance at least once every couple of weeks. Flash tried that with me maybe 2 or 3 times in the first month or two with me. Luckily, most of them learn pretty quickly that such fights against the humans in their household are futile.

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#4 Old 10-11-2011, 04:45 PM
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Hay's good for them to nibble on all day, on top of their rabbit food. Also, I'd avoid the lettuce. The 'strings' from it can get caught in their throats, and certain types can give them diarrhea, or make them sicker. Same with cabbage and celery.

The fight was probably just a little spat, or as said above, a pecking-order type thing.

And out of curiousity, are they litter-trained?
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#5 Old 10-11-2011, 05:08 PM
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#6 Old 10-14-2011, 11:29 AM
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Thanks for all the advice and info.

Hazel and Meadow were spayed yesterday, so they aren't feeling too good.
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#7 Old 10-14-2011, 11:58 AM
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#8 Old 10-14-2011, 12:21 PM
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Spaying your rabbits will defiantly reduce the fighting. Rabbits are very aggressive to each other if not spayed or neutered.

Rabbits also don't store extra calcium like most animals do, but instead urinated all the extra calcium out (which makes it very difficult to clean). So it's normal for their urine to be cloudy and almost white. If you little train them or keep them in a hutch with a metal bottom, then you can use white vinegar to clean the dried urine off.

If you have a large enough cage and plenty of things for them to do (the love balls with bells in them) then they should be fine confined. But you should let them out every day! They are very curious animals and need some stimulation other than their cage (just like any animal). If you keep your rabbits out, you have to rabbit proof the room! They are big chewers and will chew though wood (including any trim the walls, furniture, and whatever else they get their little noses into), cords, and anything they can get into. And unless they are litter trained, it's going to be very messy!

Rabbits should be fed both pelleted rabbit food and timothy hay (alfalfa has too much calcium and other hays are more like a treat). You should supplement their diet with veggies like carrots, broccoli, and dark leafy greens (Kale is great! But nothing like iceburg lettuce because it's mostly water and not much nutrients). Some fruit is ok, just only as a treat. Obviously you should have fresh water available at all times.

Their teeth do constantly grow, so make sure they have something to chew on, like wood blocks, to file them down.
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#9 Old 10-15-2011, 10:48 AM
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I've been giving them timothy hay even though they don't seem super keen on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RabbitLuvr View Post

Did the vet send pain meds home with you?

Yeah and they're starting to do better, they just had an extremely sedentary 24 hours or so.
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#10 Old 10-15-2011, 10:58 AM
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#11 Old 10-21-2011, 04:39 PM
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(Hazel top, Meadow bottom)

Wow, they still really do not like hay. Hoping this won't be a problem.

Quote:
And out of curiousity, are they litter-trained?

Yes, they've gone in some places they shouldn't, but it's been awhile.
LL
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#12 Old 10-21-2011, 05:19 PM
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#13 Old 10-22-2011, 09:18 PM
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I just noticed Hazel has a small hard greyish lump where the incision was. I was getting really stressed out until the spay/neuter clinic finally answered their phone and told me it is probably nothing to worry about (something to do with the adhesive they used maybe). I'm still going to take them to a vet to get checked out as soon as I can.

A concurrent frustration, since I was trying to examine the rabbits' bellies, was the fact that they hate being picked up. Somehow all the rabbits in the youtube results for "how to pick up a rabbit" are docile. I can pick up Hazel and Meadow if I have to, but it's not pleasant for either party. Sometimes they're relaxed enough to lay sprawled out beside me on their side or back and receive a stroke, so I think they trust me at least somewhat. As long as I'm not lifting them off the ground. The reassuring strokes can only be taken so far, because if they aren't in the mood for that or are exploring they're not going to sit in one place for very long.
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#14 Old 10-22-2011, 10:48 PM
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