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How to keep a healthy Rabbit

Rabbits are an increasingly popular pet.  They are available in many colors and breeds.  Some are very large, with the Belgian Giants living up to their names at over 20 pounds.  In contrast, the dwarf varieties may barely weigh 4 or 5 pounds.  They can be very long hair (Angoras) or look like they are covered in velvet (Rexes).  Rabbits can be trained to use litter boxes and live 7 to 10 years, which makes them convenient pets for people who need an easily managed pet.

Rabbits do enjoy company and will become attached to their owners if they are handled gently and frequently as youngsters.  Of course, each bunny will have its own personality.  Rabbits like each other’s company also, but it is important to spay and neuter them to avoid territorial disputes and litters of youngsters.

Diet is critical in keeping your rabbit healthy. There are many commercial diets in pet stores and feed stores.  Avoid the diets that have lots of treats in them.  Alfalfa based pellets are very common but may make your rabbit too chubby.  Alfalfa based foods have very high protein levels and high calcium levels.  Pellets that are made from Timothy hay are preferred.  It is also essential that your rabbit has real hay at all times.  The hay should be the majority of the diet.  Timothy or other “grass” hays are the best to use, since they provide the long fiber needed for efficient digestion.

Rabbits also drink a lot of water.  A large water bottle that is frequently cleaned and always kept at least half full is very important.

Toys for rabbits come in many forms.  Be sure that the toy is designed for rabbits.

Rabbit cages should be large enough for the rabbit to hop around a bit and stretch out comfortably.  Often, these cages have a wire mesh bottom that allows the waste to fall through into a tray below.  Be sure the wire mesh flooring is a small gage mesh.  Larger mesh can irritate the bottom of the rabbit’s feet, and serious infections can result.  Bedding in rabbit cages can be processed paper products, wood chips, or mesh. If using wood chips always avoid pine and cedar.  These smell great to people but the aromatic oils are very irritating to the rabbits.  Aspen is a better wood chip to choose.

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