Cage: The cage should be made of high quality welded wire. Make sure there are no sharp edges on the bottom of the cage. Rabbits need to sit on a smooth surface part of the time. A piece of wood should cover about ¼ of the cage to avoid sore hocks. Make sure the wood is NOT treated and redwood is NOT used. Your rabbit will pick a corner of the cage to eliminate so the wood should be placed in the opposite side of the cage. The cage should be cleaned frequently!
Summer Time: Rabbits do better in the cold than the heat. Many rabbits will die in the heat if not properly taken care of. Do not put your rabbit in the direct sun even if you have something covering it. Also, make sure your rabbit has good ventilation. If your rabbit starts to pant that means it is getting too hot. I freeze 2 L soda bottles and place them in the cage. The rabbit will lie next to it and cool off. You can also put ice cubes in the water dish or soak a terrycloth towel in ice water and put the in the cage for the rabbit to lie on. A really quick way to cool down your rabbit is to rub an ice cube over its ears. I also have misters set up and put those on when it is hot.
Water: Water needs to be changed every day. Even if your rabbit has water left over from the day before, it needs to be dumped out and given fresh water. In the summer time it is good to change the water more frequently so your rabbit has cool water to drink. You can use a heavy crock that the rabbit cannot knock over or a water bottle.
Food: Rabbits have to have pellets! They cannot live on lettuce and carrots. Pellets have everything a rabbit needs. Adult rabbits should be fed one ounce of pellets per pound of rabbit. Baby rabbits and pregnant does should always have food in their cage. I feed my rabbits Rabbit Chow. It can be bought at the local feed store in 25 and 50 pound bags, which is cheaper than the pet store.
Changing Food Brands: This should be done over a period if 5 or 6 days. The first two days feed your rabbit the old pellet and then each day add more and more of the new brand. Do not change food too quickly this is not good for your rabbit.
Snacks: Snacks should not be fed more than 3 times a week. Good treats are apples, banana, and carrots. Only feed your rabbit one. Rabbits CANNOT have treats that are high in water or acid content: Lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli etc. There are complete lists on the internet.
Toys: Rabbits are active more at night than in the day. They like to play. You can give them a clean and empty soda can. A pine block or board is good to have so the rabbit can chew. A wood block also gives some where for the rabbit to get off the wire.
Teeth: Rabbits have 2 lower incisors and 4 upper incisors. They have a total of 28 teeth. Two of the upper incisors are small and hidden behind the larger two. Rabbit teeth continue to grow through out its life. A pine block or board will give the rabbit something to chew on and that will keep the rabbit’s teeth worn down. If the rabbit has deformed teeth from birth or an injury then the rabbit will have to have its teeth trimmed regularly so the rabbit can continue to eat properly.
Toenails: Rabbit nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent human scratches and snagging toenails. You can use dog or cat nail trimmers. When trimming the nails do not cut the quick. This will cause the nail to bleed!
Ear Mites: Rabbit ear mites cause large crusts on the ear canal and the inside of the ear. Mites cause irritation, infection and pain. To cure infected ears, put a few drops of mineral oil in the ears for about 3 days and then again 10 days later.
Handling Rabbits: Rabbits should be picked up by the scruff of the neck with one hand while supporting the rump with the other hand. The rear legs must be controlled and supported when picking up the rabbit or putting it back inside the cage to prevent harm to you and your rabbit.
Dewlap: This is a fold of skin under the chin and is mostly prominent in adult females. This allows for fat storage and for fur that the female lines her nest with.
Testicles: The testicles of male rabbits are very mobile and they can pull them into the abdomen and may not be apparent on inspection. Male rabbits will often spray their urine to mark their territory. Intact males should not be put in the same cage.
Breeding: Place the doe in the buck’s cage. Do not place the buck in the doe’s cage! This will lead to fighting and low fertility. Males should be separated from the female after breeding. Rabbits should not be bred until they are over 6 months of age to ensure fertility.
Pregnancy: The gestation period of a doe is 28-32 days. Rabbits are induced ovulators, which means that ovulation occurs after sexual stimulation leading to higher fertility rates. A nest box should be placed in the doe’s cage at 28 days of pregnancy. It should contain pine shavings or hay.
Kindling: This is the process of giving birth. Privacy is necessary during kindling and shortly after birth. Too much activity can lead to cannibalism. Baby rabbits will nurse only once or twice a day. It is normal if the mom spends most of the time out side the nest box. Handling the babies can lead to death. If it is necessary to handle the babies, always pet the mother first and get her scent on your hand before touching the babies.
Diarrhea: At the FIRST signs of diarrhea mix uncooked oatmeal in with a small amount of pellets. Make sure the rabbit has plenty of fresh water to drink also.
Signs of Disease: Diarrhea, Sitting in one spot for an extended of time, lumps, bumps, nasal discharge, sneezing, poor appetite, swollen or bleeding feet, slobbering, not grooming its self, head tilt, eye discharge, coughing, swollen abdomen. If you think something is wrong with your rabbit take it to the vet!