How To Care For Rabbits
Rabbits are complex creatures, and it is important to provide them proper care for them. The following provides information on how to care for a rabbit and allow them to thrive as part of the family!
“Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need lots of love and affection. They can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families.” (https://rabbit.org/)
Rabbits are social, prey animals, which means they suffer psychologically when confined to cages outside, all alone. Inside hutches, rabbits have no means of escape and can go into shock or die of fright. Occasionally, predators can break into hutches and kill or maul trapped rabbits.
In the wild rabbits do not live alone they tend to partner for life within their social group and will mourn the loss of their partner. Many family who care for rabbits, have noted the depth of grief a rabbit displays after the death of a life partner. They also see the caring nature of the bond between their companion rabbits. In experiments rabbits have been shown to prefer company over food.
Rabbits are incredibly active creatures, particularly at dawn and dusk. Hutches deprive them from performing natural behaviours, like running, hopping, digging and foraging. The lack of exercise can cause rabbits to become obese or develop other health problems.
Keeping a rabbit alone and denying them from exhibiting natural behaviours results in chronic loneliness and boredom. Rabbits should be homed in pairs. The best combination is a desexed male and desexed female, as they form a life-long bond.
Chewing is incredibly important for rabbits as it helps wear down their teeth! This means they need access to lots of safe chewable materials, such as toys, and other objects to play with and hide in.
They are also much smarter than people think and can even be trained to understand basic commands and to use a litter tray!
Weather Impacts Rabbits
In the wild, rabbits live underground where temperatures are naturally moderated. To avoid death from heat, cold, or storms, we suggest letting your rabbit live inside with you!
Rabbits suffer from heat stress at temperatures above 28°C. If your rabbit has been exposed to temperatures much above 28°C, for more than a few minutes, he/she urgently needs to be taken to a vet for treatment. If the exposure to heat is limited, immediately place the rabbit in a cool space and carefully apply water to the back of their ears. Another solution is to offer bottles of frozen water. You should never force a rabbit to accept a cold pack or throw them in water, as this can induce shock.
Winter, Rain & Storms
Rabbits also suffer from the cold and can freeze to death in hutches. To avoid this, ensure adequate protection from the elements is available, or better still, let them live inside with you! Storms and rain can damage a rabbits hut, leaving them open to the elements. Further, many rabbits have fur that retains water which may take many days to dry out.
Rabbits are Great Companions
Rabbits can be extremely affectionate when given the chance! People often force rabbits to live outside, meaning they tend to not bond as strongly with them. As a result, they are less motivated to ensure they have a constant supply of food and water, or even clean living conditions. Additionally, being prey animals, rabbits have learnt to hide all signs of illness well, making it difficult for you to see any signs and symptoms. When rabbits live with you, you will form an unbreakable bond, which will enable you to see when vet care is needed.
Learn Before Adopting
It is extremely important to learn how to provide adequate care and love for rabbits, before you consider adopting one. A rabbits needs are complex and like any cat and dogs who are now routinely regarded as part of the family, rabbits need to be given the same consideration and allowed to flourish while showing their humans what amazing little vegan companions they are!
Flopso once lived with his life partner outside in a hutch. Although his family loved them greatly, they did not realise that rabbits suffer from heat stress and Flopso’s partner tragically died. Flopso narrowly avoided this fate by hiding in a shaded tunnel. Unfortunately, Flopso’s carers could not provide him with the care and love he needs, and have him given up for adoption.
If you would like to adopt him, please contact World League For The Protection Of Animals.