Wednesday, February 02, 2011
are very sweet and gentle animals.
They thrive best on a diet composed of unlimited timothy hay and fresh
greens. Pellets in small amounts
are ok, but are really designed to grow up rabbits fast and heavy. Fresh greens such as arugula, endive,
radaccio, dandelions, parsley, cilantro, mustard, chard, green beans, broccoli,
zucchini, cauliflower, carrots are excellent to add to their food. Start slow if your bunny is only used
to eating pellets, but in general fresh greens should not cause any loose
stool. Fresh fruits such as apple
cores, papaya, goji berries are safe in small amounts, but avoid high-sugar
fruits such as banana and grapes.
Foods high in calcium should be fed only in small amounts, such as
spinach. Alfalfa hay should be
avoided for the same reason, and in addition it is too high in protein for
these hind-gut fermenters.
such as fennel, rosemary, basil, thyme, burdock and dandelion root are nice to
add every once in a while, as well as sticks for them to chew on. Lagomorphs, not rodents, they do share
their cousins’ trait of continually growing teeth. If the diet is lacking in fiber, they can get sharp points
on the sides of their rear molars, which are extremely painful and will make
them eat let and lose weight. An
oral exam with a speculum is necessary to be able to visualize these back
teeth. Although this does not usually
require sedation, if they have developed spikes, they must be ground down,
which is best to do under anesthesia.
have a nightly ritual of consuming their own droppings directly from source to
increase their own B vitamins and normal gut flora. This is normal and desirable. They must have a hutch with flooring that is not too rough
on their feet and can otherwise let droppings fall beneath. Many rabbits can be trained to use a
litter pan or papers.
rabbits can develop embarrassing tendencies if left un-neutered, although some
are fine intact. Female rabbits
are prone to ovarian, uterine or mammary tumors later in life if not spayed,
although many intact live a long healthy life. Females develop the dewlap, or extra flap of skin under
their chin, which is an easy way to sex rabbits if they are mature.
handling rabbits, make sure to always support under their belly and keep their
back legs and feet tucked in. If
they kick, they can actually break their backs if held improperly. Watch for sharp nails, as these need
trimming on a regular basis. Many
bunnies prefer water bottles to dishes, and many enjoy a good salt block from
time to time.