A QUICK FACT SHEET
BY: JILL M. PATT, DVM
WHAT ARE THEY? Rabbits are not rodents. They are domesticated animals called lagomorphs which are characterized by double incisor teeth.
LIFESPAN: 10+ Years
SEXING: Mature does will have a fold of skin under the neck called a dewlap. Mature males will have external testicles that can be withdrawn into the body at will. On further examination, when the genital area is gently pressed on females will protrude a slit like opening and males a cylindrical tube.
HOUSING: I highly recommend keeping your rabbit as a house rabbit. However, a cage should be used when your pet cannot be supervised. The cage should be as large as you have space for and should have solid (not wire) flooring which is gentler on your rabbit’s feet. The cage should include toys for chewing, a litter box, water bottle, and food dish. Be careful with wire or cloth hay nets – I’ve seen many rabbits catch their legs in these.
LITTER BOX: Rabbits are easy to litter train, but should be spayed or neutered for best results. Place a litter pan in an area where your rabbit is already urinating and then gradually move the box to the desired location.
SPAY/NEUTER: All rabbits should be neutered to prevent reproduction and keep them healthy. Neutering will also reduce urine and fecal marking and aggression. In addition, neutering female rabbits will prevent them from getting uterine cancer which can be common in older rabbits.
DIET: – Grass Hay should be the primary food source – Bermuda / timothy in unlimited amounts
– Mixed Leafy greens should be provided daily – a minimum of 1 cup of spring greens daily
– Pellets are not the primary diet and should be grass hay based – offer ~ 1/4cup per 5 lb. rabbit
– Alfalfa is not a good hay source for rabbits – it can cause urinary stones
– Rabbits should not be fed food rich in grains and sugars – will result in severe diarrhea
– Multiple diseases are related to the diet – the best way to keep your rabbit healthy is with a good diet
WATER: Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. A water bottle will prevent dripping on the skin of the chin and neck – preventing skin infections.
SUPPLEMENTS: Are not needed for rabbits on a good diet. A salt lick is really just a treat.
MEDICAL: All rabbits should be examined by a veterinarian at least yearly.
Dental disease, hair balls, gastrointestinal disease – impaction and diarrhea, respiratory disease, cancer, obesity, fly strike, organ disease
Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at: www.littlecrittersvet.com
House Rabbit Society: http://www.rabbit.org/
Brambley Hedge – AZ rabbit rescue: http://www.bhrabbitrescue.org/
Oxbow Rabbit Food: http://www.oxbowhay.com/index.sp