rabbit health

7 Important Things to Know about Rabbits

Thinking of adding a rabbit to your family? Or do you just want to learn a little more about rabbits in general? Here’s our list of 7 of the most important things you need to know about bunnies!

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

1. Rabbits are Social Animals

Rabbits are social animals and should always be kept as a pair. This reduces their stress, keeps them warm in winter, and limits stress-related behaviors from developing.

Rabbits can be territorial and should ideally be provided with 3.5-10 sq. ft. of space per rabbit.

Please see our article about how rabbits make great pets!

2. Rabbit’s Life Expectancy

Smaller rabbits may live 10-12 years, while larger rabbits live on average about 8 years.

Some smaller rabbits can last into their teens. The oldest documented pet rabbit lived until 18 years of age!

3. Rabbits Are Prey Animals

Proper housing of rabbits should include at least one hiding spot per rabbit.

Rabbits need to be able to hide and watch for predators. This is part of their normal instinctive behavior and should be provided to them, regardless of a lack of predators in their enclosure/environment.

This can be accomplished by providing rabbits with shelves, boxes, wooden houses, and bushes.

4. Housing: Outdoors vs. Indoors

Outdoors:

The great outdoors provides rabbits with sunlight, grass to graze, and fresh air. Some people keep rabbits in hutches when outdoors to protect them from predators, extreme heat, and extreme cold.

Heatstroke can be common in outdoor rabbits in the Summer, always be sure to provide a cool, shady area for them.

In the winter, keep the hutch elevated from the cold ground, insulated with straw, and provide cubbies and hiding spots.

Indoors:

Cage size is dependent upon rabbit size. Every rabbit should be able to stand up on its hind legs comfortably in their cage.

  • Giant breeds (>12 pounds) - minimum of 30 × 36 inches to 36 × 48 inches
  • Medium breeds (7–12 pounds) - minimum of 24 × 30 inches to 30 × 36 inches
  • Smaller breeds - minimum of 18 × 24 inches

For more information, check out our full article on housing recommendations for your pet rabbit!

5. Safe Flooring

Hutch floors should be covered with soft padding. Wire and wooden floors can cause sores on rabbits’ hocks. Keep flooring clean to prevent flies and “flystrike”. Flystrike is a common term for myiasis, an infestation of the skin by fly larvae (maggots) and can be fatal in rabbits.

Pen floors should be non-skid and covered with straw or shredded paper, along with hay for added absorbency. The flooring of pens and wire-floor cages should be hosed off and thoroughly cleaned every 2 weeks.

6. Rabbit Nutrition

Provide plenty of clean hay.

Provide plenty of clean water. Use bowls that are difficult to overturn. You can also use bottles to keep the fresh water away from areas where rabbits defecate. The water should be changed every day.

Please see our article on How to Feed Your Pet Rabbit for more information.

7. Bunnies Aren’t Rodents

Your pet rabbit is not a rodent. They belong to a separate order called Lagomorphs, including hares and pikas. They have 4 incisors, unlike rodents who have two. Lagomorphs are largely herbivorous, meaning the majority of their diet is plant material. Thick fur protects their paws instead of paw pads, like dogs or cats.

Read more:

Do rabbits need vaccines?

Skin Diseases in Rabbits

Rabbit Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby Care

Have more questions about your rabbit’s health?

Schedule a video consult to chat with one of our vets.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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