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DOING IT RIGHT

Rabbits require maintenance and care; it is also important we understand what they want and what’s good for them

DOING IT RIGHT

Do rabbits make good pets?

Rabbits have strikingly distinctive personalities. They can be as playful and silly as puppies or kittens, as independent and fascinating as cats, or as loyal and openly affectionate as dogs. And long-time rabbit owners claim that domestic rabbits are, in their own way, every bit as smart as cats and dogs.

Are rabbits low-maintenance pets?

Although they don't need to be walked like dogs, rabbits are anything but low-maintenance. Their quarters need daily leaning. Alongside, fresh food and water must be offered daily, including a salad of leafy vegetables. Certain rabbit health problems can become chronic, requiring regular veterinary treatment. Unfortunately, veterinarians skilled in rabbit medicine are hard to find.

What is the average life span of a rabbit?

Well cared-for indoor rabbits can live 7-10 years, and some live into their teens. This is approximately the same life span as some breeds of dogs and requires the same long-term commitment.

How often should I take them to the vet?

Companion rabbits should be spayed/neutered by veterinarians with experience in rabbit surgery. This not only reduces hormone-driven behaviour such as lunging, mounting, spraying and boxing, but also protects females from the risk of uterine cancer, the incidence of which can exceed 50 per cent as rabbits grow older.

Do rabbits love cuddling and getting picked up very often?

Although some rabbits tolerate handling quite well, many do not like to be picked up and carried. If rabbits are mishandled, they will learn to nip to protect themselves. If they feel insecure when carried, they may scratch to get down. Unsprayed/unneutered rabbits often exhibit territorial behaviour such as boxing or nipping when their territory is invaded by the owner.

What should I feed to the rabbits?

The single most vital component of a rabbit's diet is grass hay, which should be provided daily. Rabbit pellets should be given only in very limited quantities.

Can I leave the rabbit unattended for a day or two?

Rabbits need daily monitoring. Problems that are relatively minor in some species (e.g., a day or two of anorexia) may be life-threatening in rabbits and may require immediate veterinary attention.

How frequently and how much should I feed my rabbit?

A rabbit should ideally be fed twice a day, morning and evening, with a balanced diet consisting of unlimited access to hay or grass, a small amount of fruits and fresh leafy vegetables. In addition, a small quantity of good quality rabbit mix or pellets can be added to the diet to make it more nutritional and healthy. These pellets should be given in the ratio of 25 g per kg in ratio to your rabbit's weight. You can give your rabbits treats but not too frequently or it will spoil dietary habits. Your rabbit should be fed according to its weight, keep a track of his/her food intake and weight to ensure he/she does not get over or underweight. If unsure or ever in doubt, it is best to consult your vet for more detailed information in regard to the best diet for your rabbit and to find out which plants or food items are safe to consume for these little beings.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to manekaanimallove@gmail.com)

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