Rabbit Care

Caring for rabbits can be easy if you understand a few simple things.  The diet of a rabbit has a profound effect upon its short and long term health.  Most rabbit food brands are generalized for "rabbits of all ages," however this approach to rabbit nutrition can cause problems for “rabbits of all ages.”  Instead, the food that you give your rabbit should be specifically designed for the stage of life they are in.

For example:

Baby Rabbit Care

Baby rabbits require a high fat diet "like mamma's milk" that is low in starch (grain) and high in fiber.
The milk that baby rabbits drink is high in fat and low in starch (sugar).  Baby rabbit food should be the same, but with added fiber to help stimulate the development of a healthy digestive tract.  If the feed baby rabbits eat is high in grain or grain by-products and protein supplements like soybean meal then it may lead to digestive problems like diarrhea and bloating that can cause death.  A high fat, high fiber food that is low in starch promotes healthy growth in baby rabbits (a high fat diet permits the diet to also be high in fiber because, calorie for calorie, starch takes up more room than fat).

Rabbit Care for Nursing Rabbits

lactating-rabbit-care Rabbits that are lactating or nursing baby rabbits also need a high fat diet that is low in starch and high in fiber
Rabbits that are nursing a litter of baby bunnies are healthier eating the same high fat and high fiber diet that baby rabbits need.  This rabbit food helps them to produce more milk which helps baby rabbits get a healthy start.  They will then provide all the care that newborn rabbits need.

Pet Rabbit Care

Adult pet rabbits need a maintenance type of  rabbit food that is lower in energy and higher in fiber to prevent them from getting too fat.  This also helps them have a longer, healthier, and more active life and better functioning digestive tract.  Providing a little bit of natural oil from whole oil seeds helps soothe the digestive system and improves the shine of the fur coat.  It won’t make them fat as long as the feed is designed to be  “low energy”.

Following these feeding recommendations will provide the best care for your rabbits.  It will ensure that they have a balanced diet specific to their life stage and will prevent the digestive system problems that most rabbits suffer from.

Pregnant Rabbit Care

Pregnant rabbits have special dietary needs because of changing hormones
Pregnant rabbits need a rabbit food that is higher in starch and lower in fat.  However, when adding starch (grain is high in starch) it will lower the amount of fiber in the diet.  Because of this balance is really important in a rabbit’s diet.

Additional Rabbit Care Facts

Rabbit Teeth

In addition to the nutritional needs of rabbits you should provide something for your rabbit to gnaw on.  Small apple-wood branches or other wood blocks (short pieces of 2”x4” or 2”x2” wood blocks that are not painted, stained, aromatic, or glued) are great to keep rabbit teeth from becoming over grown.  It also is fun for rabbits to chew and play with and is an important part of general rabbit care.

Salt Licks and Water

Salt licks for rabbits are important part of their care because it helps them adjust their salt intake according to their needs.  These needs change throughout the seasons and throughout life.  Rabbits also need free access to clean water at all times.  Rabbits that get dehydrated will not be able to cool themselves and/or they will stop eating food.  If the water doesn’t look and smell clean enough to drink your rabbit may not be getting all the water it needs.

Clean Rabbit Hutches, Runs, and Cages

Proper rabbit care should also include a clean living space.  Rabbits are very particular about their home and when they have a choice they will locate and repeatedly use one spot to defecate and urinate in.  If you are letting your rabbit run around you can potty train your rabbit by finding this location and putting a small litter box that is easy for them to get into (make sure they aren’t scared of it).  After they begin using the litter box you can slowly move it over time to the location you prefer your rabbit to use.  Maintaining a clean living space will prevent rabbit diseases and health issues and is necessary for proper rabbit care.

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