Let’s celebrate International Rabbit Day (25 September) by getting to know more about our fluffy friends!
Rabbits make wonderful pets but they can be high maintenance and keeping them happy isn’t always easy.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing says: “Though rabbits are a popular choice for many aspiring pet owners, there is a lot to consider before bringing them into your life. For a start, one bunny is not enough, it’s essential they live with at least one other rabbit, so you need to be prepared for double the fun! Thankfully, there are lots of simple things you can do to help keep your furry friends healthy, happy and living their best life.
A balanced bunny diet
“The best diet for your bunnies is one that’s as close to wild rabbits’ diets as possible. Providing plenty of fresh, clean drinking water and good quality feeding hay, which they’ll need to have constant access to. An adult-sized handful of fresh rabbit-safe greens morning and evening provides essential nutrients and moisture and just one tablespoon of rabbit nuggets daily (or twice daily if your bunnies weigh over 3.5kg) completes their dietary needs.
Their new home
“Rabbits are very active and need lots of space to roam free, where they can stretch, hop multiple times, reach up and run around as they please. When picking a hutch, remember you will also need a run to provide additional space. Rabbits need as much space as possible – the hutch should have a minimum area of at least 3m x 2m x 1m. If you intend to keep your bouncy friends outside, they’ll need shelter from the wind, rain and sun, as well as a large, safe outdoor area for them to hop, dig, play, eat and just be rabbits! For indoor rabbits, you will need to ‘bunny-proof’ your home to keep them safe from any hazardous dangers in any areas they have access to.
Whether indoors or out, your bunnies will need to be occupied, so make sure you include things like tubes, hay bales, cardboard boxes and hay racks for them to stretch and nibble from.
Handle with confidence
“Rabbits can get quite frightened when being handled – they’re a prey species so being grabbed in the wild would generally result in them becoming someone’s dinner! To get rabbits used to being held, try kneeling down or sitting near them, feeding them some tasty treats. Then as they become curious, they may even climb onto you. When your rabbit is comfortable with you, stroke them gently, they’ll soon get used to being held without it being a worrying experience. If do you need to pick your furry family member up, it is important to take it slowly and with great care. Never hold a rabbit on their back, by their scruff or ears – this can be extremely distressing for them.
“Rabbits have a wide range of behaviours and ways of communicating, which can often confuse owners. Common behaviours you may find include running, jumping, sniffing, grooming, digging, chasing, biting, hiding and thumping. It is not always easy to decipher these signals, however you can find out more by visiting our guide to help work out what your rabbit may be trying to tell you.