rabbit health care guide

Rabbit Health Care Guide – Rabbit Caring Tips

Hello Friends! As you have noticed, we are rabbit lovers. We have 3 rabbits – Daryl, Ellie and Olivia (Livie). We love them to the max! Daryl is adopted from House Rabbit Society Singapore, Ellie and Livie from Bunny Wonderland Singapore. Below are some of their pictures and a rabbit health care guide & tips (from a rabbit owner’s point of view). Hope you enjoy reading them and please let us know your feedback!

Our First boy, Daryl Our 2 girls, Ellie & Olivia (sisters)

Follow our bunnies on Instagram @darylbunny

Quick Menu

Rabbit Healthy Diet

Bunny Exercise

How to set up a Rabbit Playpen

How to set up a Rabbit Litter Tray

Rabbit Health

Rabbit Playtime

Rabbit Healthy Diet

Rabbits love sweet stuff – fruits, carrots, high sugar treats. However, do be careful when choosing what you give them. High sugar in their body may cause illness such as diabetes, skin and fur problems, tooth problems and overweight.

Know the Bunny Food Pyramid

Rabbit Food Pyramid

Rabbit Food Pyramid

Unlimited Hay

Hay is the main source of a rabbit’s diet. Be generous! Re-fill if necessary! Rabbits need to have at least 1 shoebox worth of hay per day so they get healthy round and brown poops! Water is important too, make sure you change their water bowls at least 2 times per day (in case there’s fur, dirt or insects in their water bowl).

Alfalfa King’s Oat Wheat and Barley Hay

We recommend Alfafa King’s Oat Wheat and Barley Hay because our rabbits have big round and brown poops after consuming this hay. Alfafa King’s Oat Wheat and Barley Hay has lots of fiber and nutrients. Oat Wheat and Barley Hay are green, lengthy, thick, crunchy, and crispy. Try giving Alfafa King’s Oat Wheat and Barley Hay for your furkids and you’ll be surprised by their poops’ size and color!

Rabbit - Daryl - cute rabbit

Dining like a gentleman. Daryl: I need a fork and knife please!

Safe Vegetables​ for Rabbits – 2 portions of Veggies per day

We recommend giving 2 portions of fresh veggies per day. Give one portion in the morning, and another in the evening (kinda like breakfast and dinner). If you know you are going out on a date and will not be back on time to feed your rabbits, do give more hay than usual so they can munch on the hay while waiting for their veggies. We usually give a little more veggies if we are home very late :)

Recommended Main veggies: Romain lettuce, Xiao Bai Chai (Bak Choi), Chye Sim (Choi Shum), Endives, Kale, Wheat grass, watercress

Recommended Treat Veggies: Mint leaves, coriander, cilantro, fresh parsley, Chinese celery, fresh basil leaves, carrot tops

Veggies to Avoid: Iceberg lettuce, Broccoli, Avocado, Cauliflower

Veggies to feed occasionally:  Kai Lan, Celery, Carrots, Spinach, Brussel sprouts

Recommend portion: It’s good to give 3 varieties of vegetables. 2 Main Veggies + 1 Treat Veggie. I recommend 4 stalks/each (Main Vegetable) and a few leaves/strands (Treat Vegetable)

If your rabbit does not drink a lot of water, sprinkle your veggies with water before you feed them. This will increase water intake while they consume the veggies.

Rabbits eating veggies - rabbit health care

Daryl, Ellie and Livie enjoying their dinner

Pellets Time

Pellets are not the main source of food. They are considered “treats” (less fat and less sweet than treats though). 1-2 Tablespoon per day is a good portion. However, if your bunny is overweight or obese, try cutting down the pellets to only 1 Tablespoon per day. Please avoid ready-mixed pellets from pet stores as they are high in fat and sugar and are not as healthy as plain pellets.

What are mixes? Mixed rabbit dried food is a combination of dried carrots, cranberries & other fruits with nuts and pellets. These mixed rabbit food are not recommended by rabbit savvy vets and rabbit owners. Then why are these mixes still on the shelves?  Mostly for making money without a heart. In addition, these mixes are colorful and attractive to rabbit owners as well as to rabbits. And of course, rabbits will love them due to the fruits and nuts in the content. We recommend Oxbow’s Essentials Adult Rabbit Food for rabbits of 1 year old and older and Oxbow’s Essentials Young Rabbit Food for rabbits aging less than 1 year old. #saynotomixes

Rabbit - Daryl - cute rabbit

Daryl approves Oxbow pellets! Yummy! #saynotomixes

Gimme a Treat

Rabbits love sweet stuff! Fruits are the best and least expensive treats (humans can eat too) but you have to choose wisely which fruits you feed them. Alternative treats are the ones you can buy from pet stores. If you need to buy treats, please consider healthy hay treats such as Oxbow’s Simple Rewards Timothy Treats, Oxbow’s Simple Rewards Veggie Treats and Oxbow’s Organic Barley Biscuits. You can find them in your local pet shops. Please avoid cookie/flour treats, yogurt drops, nuts/seeds! 

timothy_treat_for_web_largeOxbow's Simple Rewards Veggie TreatsOxbow's Organic Barley Biscuits

Recommend portion:
– Fruits: 2-3 blueberries, thumb nail size of fruit (papaya, orange, peach, melon, kiwi, apple, strawberry)
– Treats: 1 timothy treat/veggie treat/barley biscuits per day

My rabbit is not drinking water

Rabbits’ water intake is very important. Make sure they drink enough water! The best way to check if they have drank enough is to check their pee while changing their litter tray. Are there big patches of pee or only little patches? If their pee soaked up the cat litter and newspaper – GOOD! If you see dried cat litter and only 2 -3 patches of pee, then you need to start monitoring your rabbit’s water intake.

How to make my rabbit drink more water?

Method 1: Chop a few chunks of apples and put into their water bowl. Apples float on water and it is difficult for your rabbit to eat the apple. The result: They will try to grab the apples and by doing so, they will lick and drink more water.

Method 2: “Pellet Water” – Put a few pellets into their water bowl and fill with water. Remember to not to put too much water as you’ll still want the water to taste and smell like pellets. The pellets will become puffy and start to turn into crumbs. You can feed this “pellet water” to your rabbit by spoon or let them drink on their own.

Method 3: Before you feed your rabbit veggies, sprinkle the veggies with water. Do not drown the veggies, just add water to the veggie bowl and then drain away the excess water. Remember to talk to you rabbit and pat their head and tell them to drink more water. Give lots of kisses on their head and keep patting :)

Bunny Exercise

Rabbits need exercise just like us. They like to hop around doing binkies when you let them out of their cage or playpen. Please allow at least 1 hour of free-roam in the house if possible so they can exercise their muscles and bones. If you were them, you would not like to be stuck in a small area with limited movement, right?

Rabbit - Ellie - cute rabbit

Ellie, hopping on boxes

Is my rabbit fat?

Is the the fat or the fur? Some rabbits have fluffy fur coat that makes them look fat; actually if you touch them and if you can feel their bones and spine, that means they are not fat and probably underweight. Try increasing the amount of veggies and pellets if that is the case.

Observation

Do they have difficulty grooming themselves? In other words, do they have trouble grooming their back (twisting their body to reach their back or butt)? When you carry them or lift them, do they feel heavier than usual? When you touch them and massage them, do you feel the “fat”? If you answer YES to the above, your rabbit may be overweight. Please try to cut down the pellet intake limiting to only 1 tablespoon or less per day. Continue to observe for 1 more week if your rabbit has lost some weight or not. Other than cutting their food intake, also let them run in the house or room for at least 1 hour per day so they get enough exercise. However, if you see that your rabbit has dropped weight quickly; monitor his/her food intake (1 shoebox of hay and 2 portions of veggies) and gradually add more pellets if necessary.

Setting Up Their Space (Playpen)

We recommend at least a 4 piece playpen (you can purchase them in your local pet shops). Put one litter tray and 1 water bowl. Do not leave any unattended pellets as they absorb moisture and will go bad. Take away the leftover veggies to avoid ants and other house insects.

How to Set up a Playpen for Rabbits

4 piece playpen – Some comes with a door opening for letting your rabbits out easily. Measurements are: 36″ (H) x 28″ (W). You can purchase them at your local pet store (SGD$8-12/piece). We do not recommend cages as they are too small for rabbits to move around. Also, cages have wired flooring which can cause sore hocks to rabbits.

4 piece playpen

How to set up a Rabbit Litter Tray

We love to use cat litter tray as they are large and have a certain height so your rabbits will not accidentally pee outside the tray while sticking their butt out. One brand we recommend is Toyogo brand litter tray. Alternatively, you can find storage trays or crates at your local provision shop or departmental store.

toyogo brand rabbit litter tray

 

How to set up the rabbit litter tray:

– We line Daryl’s litter tray with 1 layer of trash bag, 1 layer of 2-3 pieces of newspaper and 1 layer of cat litter and a rubber mat with holes as the top layer (The girls bite on the trash bag so we have the same setup for them without the trash bag). Adjust to what’s most convenient for you and your rabbits.

How to set up a rabbit litter tray

– Put the Cat Litter (recycled compressed paper pellets). Please avoid wood shedding beddings as rabbits tend to chew on them. We recommend Breeder Celect Cat Litter as they will not harm rabbits and rabbits will not chew on them.

breeder-celect-litter

– Rubber mat or tray (with holes so the poop will drop underneath) to put on top of the cat litter   – Hay Rack to hold the hay (optional). You can also put the hay inside the tray.

How to set up a rabbit litter tray How to set up a rabbit litter tray

Just like that:

How to set up a Rabbit Litter Tray

How to set up a Rabbit Litter Tray

Change their litter tray everyday

We change their trays every night before bed. It’s a good habit to change rabbits’ litter tray everyday. Why?  Changing litter tray everyday can:

  • Reduce the smell that comes from rabbit pee and the damp newspaper
  • Cleaner rabbit feet and paws
  • Better hygiene
  • Less germs (germs can causes sickness to the rabbit)

So, ladies and gentlemen, Don’t be lazy! 

Rabbit Water Bowls, Food Bowls

Rabbits like to flip things around, especially food bowls and water bowls. Once they get a grip (with their teeth) on the rim of the bowl…then you have to clean after them. That is a common issue with my rabbits, especially the girls haha! I recommend heavy porcelain bowls or plastic bowls that do not have a thin rim:

rabbit food bowls rabbit food bowlsrabbit food bowls

Rabbit Health

Rabbits can live up to 10-12 years (human years). It is important to have a healthy rabbit. Therefore, regular checking, monitoring and grooming are necessary.

Rabbit Droppings

Rabbits produce two types of droppings:

Faecal pellets: Hard and round poop that contain the waste indigestible fibre
Cecotropes: Dark, small and soft. Rabbits re-ingest their cecotropes right from their anus to obtain extra nutrients. Usually you will not be able to see the cecotropes. Any extra amount of cecetropes found in the litter tray might be an indication that your rabbit is not having enough nutrients that he/she requires.

Healthy Rabbit Poop

Healthy rabbit poop is round or oval in shape and dark brown or brown in color – around 5mm to 8mm diameter. Since rabbit’s main source of food is hay, their poop will be dry to the touch and not greasy. Healthy rabbit poops will not stain your fingers nor feet nor clothes. If you try to squeeze the poop, it will just turn into crumbs because there is not a lot of moisture.

healthy rabbit poophealthy rabbit poop

Abnormal Rabbit Poop

If your rabbit does not eat like usual or always resting in one corner, they might be ill. The first thing to look at is their poop. Are they healthy as described above? Below are some photo references of abnormal rabbit poop. If you feel there is something wrong with your rabbit, please bring your rabbit to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

abnormal rabbit poop

GI Stasis (GastroIntestinal Stasis)

GI stasis is a common rabbit illness and it can happen suddenly. Once your rabbit is not eating his/her veggies or hay as usual, please pay more attention! GI Stasis is a silent killer. If your rabbit has not eaten well nor producing healthy poops for 12 hours or more, please bring your rabbit to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible, your rabbit may have GI Stasis.

What Causes GI Stasis?

Once a rabbit’s intestines is not well, you can directly tell from their droppings. A few reasons that causes GI Stasis will be:

  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Pain (gas, dental issues, infections, or urinary tract disorders)
  • Blockage in intestines
  • Not enough dietary crude fiber

How to prevent your rabbit from GI Stasis?

The best prevention is to OBSERVE. When you change their litter tray every night, check their pee and poop. Are they peeing and having healthy droppings? If you start noticing small dark poops and less pee, feed them with Oxbow’s Critical CareCritical Care is a premium recovery food which can be given to herbivores that are unwilling to eat their normal diet due to illness, surgery or poor nutritional status. Make sure you to have a packet at home for emergency purpose. You can purchase them at veterinary clinics or certain pet shops (if they have the license to sell). It is available in Anise and Apple Banana Flavor (usually rabbits will prefer Apple Banana flavor)

Oxbow's Critical Care

Rabbit Massage

While you are patting your furkids, run your hands under or at the sides of their stomach doing a “kneading” action – Massage. Massaging their tummy regularly can help their digestive system and intestines. They love massages! However, please do not massage their tummy right after they have finished their veggies. Please wait for 1 hour or more after their feeding time if you want do perform massages. Make sure to feel if their tummy is hard or bloated. Usually, stomach gas causes rabbit to have a bloated tummy and often results in GI Stasis.

My rabbit Daryl had GI Stasis once and we brought him to the vet immediately. However, it was late night and the veterinary clinic that we usually go to is closed and we went to another one. The doctor prescribed pain killers, antibiotics and Critical Care. We were worried why the doctor gave us pain killers. We asked our rabbit friends and groups and they recommended us to ONLY give Daryl Critical Care. We fed Daryl from the spoon (he’s a good boy) with Critical Care for 1 day or so and he recovered and regained his appetite! We were so glad he’s alright! Make sure to bring your rabbit to a rabbit savvy vet! Important!  Please search online for your local rabbit savvy vets or ask your rabbit friends if they have any recommendation. Do not just bring your rabbit to any veterinary clinic as some of the vets are only familiar with cats and dogs and not with small animals.

For more information on GI Stasis, click here.

Rabbit Playtime

Rabbits love to hop around, chew on your wooden furniture and cables, hop on your TV console and sofa, scratch your rug and mat, bite your sandals and many other irritating actions. So, keep your rabbit occupied with something else! You don’t need to buy expensive toys for them; simple household items such as toilet rolls and boxes are the perfect toys to keep them busy.

Carton Boxes

Just thrown in a carton box (new or old) or an empty tissue box in their area for them to tear, scratch and bite! Watch them make a mess! These simple toys will make them happy.

rabbits love carton boxes rabbits love carton boxes

Toilet Rolls

Stuff your toilet rolls with hay or hidden pellets/treats for them to play. Rabbits are diggers and explorers, giving them hidden food will keep them busy and will not result in boredom. Sometimes, we like to put dried papaya fruits in the toilet rolls and pierce some holes with a fork. They will smell the papaya and will do anything to eat them!

rabbit toy - toilet roll with hay

Baby Toys

Rabbits like to toss things around. Try giving them baby toys to play with. Baby toys are safe for rabbits. If the toy is in plastic, please make sure they are hard plastic instead of rubbery soft plastic. Rabbits can bite off the plastic and accidentally ingest the plastic.

baby toys for rabbits baby toys for rabbits

Stuffed Toys

Rabbits are groomers! Giving them a plush toys will make them happy. You will see your rabbit resting on the stuffed toy or start licking or scratching it. However, please choose plush toys with fluffy fur as rabbits will ingest these artificial fur and may cause them digestion issues.

baby toys for rabbitsbaby toys for rabbits

 

Grooming Rabbits

Rabbits do not require wet baths! Please do not intend to bathe or soak your rabbit in water, doing so will cause hypothermia and a lot of stress! Rabbits are clean creatures, like cats, they will clean themselves by licking their own fur coat, paws, face, tail, and feet. Therefore, we do not need to give them any baths. If there is a need to clean your rabbit, there are products which are labelled “rabbit-safe” in the market; please read the ingredients and labeling correctly before applying to your rabbit. Remember not to soak or bathe your rabbit! It is very dangerous!

My rabbit has yellow feet

Although rabbits will clean and lick their feet, it is perfectly normal that rabbits do not have 100% white colored feet. Yellow feet are caused by pee stains.

How to avoid yellow feet in rabbits?

  • Clean their litter tray every day. Don’t let your rabbit step on a pile of poop and hay that is covered with pee.
  • Use non-perfumed and non-alcohol baby wipes to wipe off their pee stains
  • Use a flea comb to comb off fur that got hardened (dried pee)
  • Rabbits shed 3-4 times a year, if you have a clean environment and change their litter tray everyday, you will gradually notice their feet will become whiter.

When we first adopted Daryl, his feet is very yellow (poor shelter environment). After a few months, he has clean feet again :) As you can see, he also doesn’t have perfect white feet, that is completely normal. Rabbits are explorers, they like to hop here and there, dust might be caught on their feet. Although we clean our house once per week, there is still dust (for sure).

Although rabbits will clean and lick their feet, it is perfectly normal that rabbits do not have 100% white colored feet.

 

*TO BE CONTINUED*

 

*Disclaimer: All tips and advise stated here is a mixture of experience and research. It is not a one-size fits all solution. Do remember to do your own research and decide what works best for you and your bunny.

 

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Rabbit Health Care Guide – Rabbit Caring Tips Everything you need to know about your rabbit – Rabbit Health Care Guide