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Rabbits

Providing your rabbit with the best care

The domestic rabbit originates from the European wild rabbit... 

There are now 61 different breeds in the UK. They are very social animals and like a companion.

Physiology

Heart rate: 180-300 beats/minute.

Life expectancy: 5-10 years (maximal 16 years).

Body temperature: 38.5-40° Celsius.

Sexual maturity:
   Does (female) - 3-5 months.
   Bucks (male) - 4-8 months.

Pregnancy: 30-32 days.

Birth weight: Kittens 30-80 grams.

Weaning: 4-5 weeks of age.

Diet

Rabbits are essential grazers; they require a high-fibre diet. Feeding the correct diet to rabbits is fundamental to maintaining health, particularly of the dental and gastrointestinal systems.

The best diet for rabbits is grass/hay with a small amount of high-quality, high-fibre pellets (1-2 tablespoons per day). Green foods are also important and a variety should be fed daily to rabbits of all ages. Examples are broccoli, cabbage, chicory, chard, parsley, kale, carrot and dandelion.

Many rabbits are selective eaters, they favour grains and pulses from the mixed, muesli type food. This can lead to bone problems, dental disease and obesity. A pelleted food should be given. It is not advisable to give fruit as it has a high sugar level. For training purposes, raisins can be used.

Neutering

Bucks (Male Rabbits):

We advise that you castrate your rabbit. Rabbits who are not castrated can:

  1. Become aggressive.
  2. Spray urine up the side of his cage or even in your house.
  3. Start a deadly fight if kept with another male rabbit.
  4. Start breeding if kept with a female rabbit.
  5. Develop certain types of tumours.

Castration is possible from the age of 4-5 months' and your rabbit will be ready to go home the day after the operation.


Does (Female Rabbits):

Some rabbits can become aggressive after they have reached sexual maturity; this is caused by female hormones. Neutering is the only solution. It also prevents pseudo pregnancy, uterine infections and cancer.

Vaccination

Your rabbit is always at risk of picking up a life-threatening infectious disease. Fortunately, it is possible to vaccinate them against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.


Viral Haemorrhagic Disease:

This is a new disease, first seen in the UK in 1992. It kills most of those that become infected and is caused by a virus which is very resistant and survives a long time in the environment. It can spread very easily on clothing and footwear. Birds and insects can also transport the virus and therefore the contained House Rabbit is also at risk.

The acute form of the disease can be very distressing, attacking the liver and causing severe internal bleeding, which kills rabbits. The incubation time is usually 1 to 3 days. There is at this moment no effective treatment available.


Myxomatosis:

This is a disease many people will have seen, affecting both wild and domestic rabbits. The virus that causes the disease is spread by bloodsucking insects e.g. fleas and mosquitoes. The virus multiplies in the skin of the face, ears and anus and causes large swelling. These swellings make it difficult for the rabbit to see, eat and drink. The incubation time can be anything from 5 to 14 days. Death takes about 12 days but a small percentage may recover.


Vaccination:

The vaccination can be given from 5 weeks of age onwards. The single injection will protect against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease and Myxomatosis for one year. Annual boosters are required.

Parasites

Rabbits can, just like dog and cats, suffer from parasites.


Fly Strike

Fly Strike is an unpleasant and distressing condition which occurs in the summer when flies lay their eggs, which turn into maggots, which feed on the rabbit, burrowing into their flesh. Prevention is better than cure - some rabbits can be successfully treated but Fly Strike is often fatal.

To prevent Fly Strike, take the following precautions:

  • Check your rabbit each day, make sure their fur is clean, dry and not matted. If you see any sign of maggots, remove them using soap and warm water, thoroughly dry the affected area and contact us. A rabbit with diarrhoea or a dirty bottom is far more at risk.
  • Change soiled bedding every day.
  • Once a week, thoroughly clean and disinfect the hutch.
  • If your rabbit is prone to a dirty bottom, you can administer a preventative treatment every 8 weeks. 


Fleas

Your rabbit can pick up fleas from wild rabbits or hedgehogs if they live outdoors. Also, your dog or cat can give them fleas. A monthly application of spot-on treatment will prevent any flea burden.


E. Cuniculi

E. Cuniculi is an emerging disease in pet rabbits. It is a tiny single-celled organism called a protozoon which is potentially zoonotic (can spread to immunocompromised humans). It can cause neurological disease (head tilt, unsteadiness and weakness of the hind legs, neck spasm and urinary incontinence), kidney disease and eye disease.

Sadly, treatment is not always successful but treating your rabbit 2-4 times a year will help to prevent E. Cuniculi. Get in touch if you need more information.

Practice information

Midhurst

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    8:00am - 7:00pm
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    8:00am - 7:00pm
  • Sat
    8:00am - 1:00pm
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Grange Road Midhurst West Sussex GU29 9LT
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Haslemere

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    8:00am - 6:00pm*
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    8:00am - 6:00pm*
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    8:00am - 6:00pm*
  • Fri
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  • Sat
    8:30am - 12:00pm
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01730 814321
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Old Fire Station 2 Chestnut Avenue Haslemere Surrey GU27 2AT * The branch is closed for lunch from 12:45pm - 1:45pm
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Liphook

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    8:00am - 6:00pm*
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    8:00am - 6:00pm*
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    8:00am - 6:00pm**
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  • Sat
    8:00am - 12:00pm
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01730 814321
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9 Headley Road Liphook Hampshire GU30 7NS * The branch is closed for lunch from 1:00pm - 2:00pm ** The branch is closed for lunch from 12:15pm - 2:15pm
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01730 814321