Easter is 3 weeks away, is there a Bunny Rabbit coming?

 

RABBITS AS EASTER GIFTS

Easter is just around the corner, many of us may think about buying a pet rabbit. It’s tempting to purchase a bunny if you have small children that get wrapped up in the Easter Bunny.  While rabbits do make wonderful pets who can be litter-trained, just like cats, remember to take the time to learn about what it means to be a rabbit owner.

Cost:  A bunny isn’t horribly expensive to have as a pet, but there are still the mainstay items needed – bowls, food, rabbit housing, vet costs, adoption fees — that play into the cost.  It can cost around $1000 per year to care for your bunny first-class.

Remember that rabbits are intelligent and energetic pets. Just like dogs, they want social interaction, plenty of exercise, and activities every day. Also like puppies, they chew alot.  They can easily damage household items, so make sure you rabbit-proof your home.  Purchasing some baby gates can be useful to keep certain areas of your home off-limits.  And remind your kids, to keep their homework out of bunnies way.  (Teachers don’t like “My bunny ate my homework” as an excuse!)

Rabbits’ main source of sustenance is hay.  Many people think that bunnies eat mostly pellets, but that is not the case.  Rabbit hay needs to be available to pet rabbits at all times and is important for great dental and digestive health. Bunnies are not a great pet if there are any individuals with hay allergies in the house. Rabbits also need to have their fair share of vegetables daily. Lacking a garden, you will need to purchase produce like lettuce, dandelion greens, and similar food items.

A bunny can be a joy, as with any pet purchase – make sure you are prepared.

The Basic Essentials of Rabbit Diet

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So what makes a good, healthy rabbit diet? Most rabbit owners are familiar with this. Here are some details for reference and a primer for new owners.

A good diet is made up of fresh hay, pellets, vegetables and water. How much is dependant on the rabbits age.

Hay: Hay is important for roughage.  It helps prevent hairballs, promotes normal digestion, prevents diarrhea and helps with mitigating teeth growth. Hay needs to be fresh so don’t keep extra over long periods. Also, store in an open (not air tight) container and check for mold. Some of the popular hays include timothy hay, grass hay and alfalfa. They should be provided at all times and not limited in quantity. However, alfalfa is rich and should be given to rabbits  younger than 7 months or underweight rabbits if calcium levels are normal.

Pellets: Pellets can be given in unlimited quantities to young rabbits under 7 months. For 7 months to a year about 1/2 cup for 6 pounds of body weight is recommended. Above one year reduce to 1/8 – 1/4 cup per 6 pounds of body weight. You will need to adjust depending on metabolism and comparative amount of vegetable feed. Like hay, pellets need to be fresh. Don’t store pellets for more than 6 weeks. Look for pellets about 3% or less fat, 14 – 16% protein to control weight, and 18% or so fiber. This is a rough guideline so don’t stress if your rabbits diet is not exactly this. It should be close to this range, though.

Vegetables: About one cup of veggies a day is recommended. Introduce different types slowly (as with any diet change) to prevent diarrhea. Under 7 months but above 12 weeks no more than 1/2 oz to introduce these foods. 7 months to 1 year  slowly increase the amount so that greater than 1 year this is at least 1.5 cups per 6 pounds of body weight. A partial list of rabbit friendly vegetables are:

Alfalfa, radish & clover sprouts
Basil
Beet greens (tops)
Bok choy
Broccoli (mostly leaves/stems; limit, can cause gas)
Brussels sprouts
Carrot & carrot tops
Celery
Cilantro
Clover
Collard greens
Dandelion greens and flowers (no pesticides)
Endive
Escarole
Green peppers
Kale (limit)
Marigold
Mint
Mustard greens
Parsley
Pea pods (the flat edible kind)
Peppermint leaves
Radicchio
Radish tops
Raspberry leaves
Red Leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce (no iceberg or light colored leaf)
Spinach
Watercress
Wheat grass

Treats: Treats should be given small quantities to prevent obesity. Fruits in small amounts are acceptable (1 tbsp per 6 pounds of body weight). Sugary fruits should be given only sparingly as rabbits have a sweet tooth and may exclude more healthy food choices if allowed. A list of possible snacks are:

Apple
Blueberries
Melon
Orange (remove the peel)
Papaya
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Plums
Raspberries
Strawberries

 

 

What Should You Feed Your Rabbit?

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In order for your bunny to live a happy and healthy life, you need to feed him/her a nutritious diet.  The two most important items that should be included in a bunny’s diet is water and crude long fiber.  Rabbits ingest hair, which can clog the intestinal tract.  Feeding your rabbit crude long fiber will ensure food (and hair) moves smoothly through the digestive track.  Not feeding your rabbit fiber can lead to severe intestinal problems.

A great source of crude long fiber is grass hay. This the most important food to give your rabbit.  Adults and baby rabbits can eat unlimited qualities of it.  Grass hay is especially important for the intestinal tract as it will help hair and other food travel through the digestive tract.  Examples of grass hay are timothy, oat, wheat, coastal, and brome.

You should try to feed your rabbit manly “first cut” hay.  “First cut” hay is particularly high in fiber, and gets its name because it is harvested early in the growing season.  Your rabbit may refuse to eat the thick “first cut” hay, in which case you can feed them “second cut” hay.  “Second cut” is often sweeter and more tender, which can be  more appealing to rabbits.  Keep in mind that alfalfa and clover hays should be fed in limited quantities, as these have too much protein and calcium, which can cause urinary tract problems.   A good quality first cut hay is Rabbit Timothy Hay, shown above.  It has high levels of fiber, and low levels of calcium, perfect for your rabbit.

Pellets can be a tasty treat for rabbits, but you should be sure limit their consumption, especially in adult rabbits.  If you offer your rabbit unlimited pellets they can ignore their hay.  This will be extremely detrimental to their health because they will not be consuming enough fiber.   While pellets do not contain the crude long fiber of grass hay, they do contain vitamins and minerals that are not found in hay.  Baby rabbits can eat unlimited pellets because the protein and calcium is great for their growing bones and muscles.  Sunthing Special Rabbit Pellets are a particularly good pellet brand because it is alfalfa based for added fiber.

In addition to hay and pellets, you should feed your rabbit plenty of green vegetables.  Besides broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes, rabbits love fresh herb vegetables like dill, basil, and parsley.  Give adult rabbits at least three different types of cleaned vegetables a day.  Baby rabbits should be gradually fed small amounts of vegetables to make sure it does not upset their stomach.  Give rabbits fruit in very small  amounts, if at all, as the sugars can be hard on their digestive tracts.

Experts think that rabbits will drink more water if it is given to them out of a bowl rather than a sipper bottle.  Try the Hang-N-Lock Corner Crock for small pets, as this will allow your rabbit to drink an adequate amount of water.  If you think your rabbit prefers a sipper bottle, do not hesitate to let them use one!  What is most important is that your rabbit consumes plenty of water.

Owners must do the Weight Watching for Rabbits

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Your rabbit has an immense and complex digestive system. Because the rabbit gut is so specialized and eating is so central to the rabbit’s life, a healthy diet is key to a healthy rabbit.

40% of the rabbit’s digestive tract consists of the cecum, a large vat where all fibrous food is processed into useable energy. The rabbit’s digestive system is evolved to eat only grass and vegetable matter- the farther you stray from this diet, the more trouble the bunny gets into. Plenty of good quality hay for roughage should be the major portion of your rabbit’s diet, and many rabbits can live well with just hay to eat.

These are great hay-based snacks for Rabbits:

Falfa Cravin Herb N Hay Tunnel – Fun hideaway and great tasty natural snack.

Timothy Hay Side Salads for Rabbits

Herbs-n-Hay Rolls for Rabbits Stuffed with parsley and sweet potato.

Ideally, you should weigh your rabbit every month or so, and note any weight changes. Steady weight gain points to a needed diet change, while unexpected weight loss can be an indicator of illness.

The key to diet change and weight loss is to do it GRADUALLY. Any fast weight loss will risk doing major damage to the liver as it becomes clogged with fat. Slowly wean your rabbit off the bad stuff, reduce starchy vegetables like carrots but always make sure your bunny has plenty of hay. Provide your bunny with lots of exercise time and toys.

How do you know if your bunny is fat? Rabbits store fat inside their abdomen, which makes just eyeballing them for love handles ineffective. Run your hands along your rabbit’s side, feeling the rib cage. When you reach the end of the ribs, your should be able to feel a slight inward slope, the waist. Fat bunnies will balloon out instead.

Give Your Rabbit Hay Everyday for Healthier Digestion

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Rabbits needs to have hay in their diet every single day because it helps to keep them regular and has essential nutrients that rabbits need everyday.  Hay is high in fiber and is necessary for making digestion easier for your rabbit.  Rabbits are able to process the nutrients in hay by eating it first and excreting it in their droppings called cecotrope.  Cecotropes are made in the cecum.  Rabbits will then eat the cecotrope droppings to absorb all of the nutrients in the hay.  If your rabbit’s diet does not contain enough fiber and too many carbohydrates, then the cecum will make soft cecotropes that are difficult for your rabbit to eat.  Regardless of diet, if your rabbit is making soft cecotropes, it is best to have your rabbit checked out by a vetrinarian to make sure that low fiber is the cause of the problem.

To keep your rabbit feeling and looking healthy, here are some hay products that will help to keep your rabbit’s digestion running smoothly:

  • For rabbits that are over 6 months old, first-cut Timothy hay is the best kind of hay for your rabbit.  Timothy hay is high in fiber and ideal for keeping your rabbit healthy.  First-cut hay is courser than second-cut hay, but if your rabbit is picky, he may not eat first-cut hay.  Regardless of the type of Timothy hay, it is very important that your rabbit eat hay everyday. 
  • Give your rabbit loose hay if possible for your rabbit to munch on.  If you give your rabbit loose hay, it is a good idea put loose in a hay rack for your rabbit to nibble on as he pleases.
  • You can also offer your rabbit Timothy hay cubes, but they don’t offer as much fiber for your rabbit’s daily diet.  If your rabbit prefers hay cubes, give your rabbit a pellet food that is high in fiber to help supplement his diet.  

Give Your Rabbit the Right Kind of Hay

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As a new rabbit owner, it can be difficult to know what type of hay is best for your rabbit.  There are two main common types of hay for rabbits:  Alfalfa and Timothy Hay.  Both of these types of hay are great for rabbits, but it is important to give your rabbit a certain type of hay at different ages.  Giving your rabbit the wrong kind of hay can cause your rabbit to become overweight and unhealthy. 

If you have a rabbit that is less than six months old or a pregnant rabbit, it is recommended that you feed your rabbit alfalfa hay.  Alfalfa hay is great for growing rabbits, however, your rabbit should be gradually taken off of alfalfa hay after he or she reaches 6 months old.  Kaytee Alfalfa Cubes is alfalfa hay in a convenient cube form and stays cleaner in the cage.  Place a cube in your rabbit’s food bowl or in a hay rack to help keep it cleaner and fresher. 

If your rabbit is over six months, start giving your rabbit Timothy hay like the Timothy Hay Daily Diet for Adult Rabbits.  This nutritious daily diet is recommended for rabbits that are over eight months old and comes in a convenient pellet form.  It also contains a variety of tasty ingredients that give the Timothy hay great flavor and makes it more irresistible to your rabbit.

No matter which type of hay you choose to feed your rabbit, make sure that you only give your rabbit hay that smells and looks fresh.  Giving your rabbit moldy hay can lead to other health problems and can make your rabbit sick.  It is a good idea to discard any hay when your rabbit is finished to help prevent your rabbit from getting sick. For a great selection of hay for rabbits, check out RabbitMart.

Merry Christmas from RabbitMart.com! – Use coupon: christbday

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Save $10 on all orders > $75 from now until the end of the year at www.RabbitMart.com with coupon: christbday.

The staff at RabbitMart.com would like to extend a wonderfully warm Christmas to all of our rabbit owners this holiday season!  From now until the end of the year is the time to stock up as we change our stock and lower prices on 2009 products.

Save on Rabbit Treats, hutches and rabbit health supplies.

We want to extend our warmest wishes for a healthy and happy Christmas!

Pictured to the right is Alfalfa Hay Kobs which are on sale and a favorite with Rabbits!

Merry Christmas!

The Rabbit Food Pyramid Explained

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Rabbit Food NO-NO’S (foods that never should be given to pet rabbits)

  • No Chocolate (poisonous!)
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Yogurt Drops
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Most “human” treats

At the bottom of the rabbit food pyramid is hay.  Choices for hay include Timothy hay, Orchard Grass, Oat Hay and Brome. Only very small amounts of Alfalfa should be given. Hap is the staple of your rabbit’s diet.

The next layer of the pyramid is vegetables. Give your pet rabbit a variety of fresh greens, daily. Cabbage, carrots, lettuces and broccoli.

The next layer of the pyramid is pellets. Limited high quality pellets with no seeds or dried fruits should be given as directed by your vet.

Finally, on top of the pyramid in small quantities are treats. Give treats one or two times per week. Treats include fresh fruits.

As with all information that you find on the internet, consult with your own veterinarian for information specific to your pet.

A primer on Pet Rabbits (Rabbits for DoughDoughs)

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Everything you wanted to know about Rabbits and didn’t want to ask
 Or…. Rabbits for DoughDoughs

Rabbits are NOT boring.
 
Placing a rabbit in an outdoor hutch with minimal interaction from you and your family does result in a boring (and bored) pet. However, if housed indoors with regular interaction from you and your family, a pet rabbit suddenly becomes a social, fun-loving addition to a family and a household. 

Rabbits are NOT low maintenance pets.

Rabbits have needs similar to those of other household pets. Rabbits have specific dietary needs just like most pets. Cages and litter boxes need frequent cleaning. A properly cared for rabbit can live 8 to 10 years, sometimes even longer. This is quite a long-term commitment for a rabbit owner.

Rabbits are BAD starter pets for children.

Parents and children should take care of the rabbit together until the child is old enough to care for the rabbit by themselves. This way the bunny rabbit can be enjoyed by the whole family. (you’d be surprised, Dad and Mom – Rabbits are cool). Kid’s may hate to clean the rabbit’s cage. Rabbits often bought for children may become neglected as the child gets older and participates in activities outside the home. The once “new toy” may become “boring” and the child may lose interest in the animal. Parents should be willing to take over the responsibility of the pet rabbit should their child lose interest.

Rabbits are NOT mean but they may bite.

Rabbits are delicate, ground loving creatures. Rabbits are very social animals that enjoy the company of humans and other animals. Some rabbits love to snuggle alot, while other pet rabbits would prefer being petted on the ground. Some rabbits that prefer to stay on the ground may try and escape if they are being held, and may do this by biting or scratching. Spend time on the floor with your rabbit and see the world through your rabbit’s eyes.

Rabbits only eat carrots – HAHA — Rabbits do eat them but …

Rabbits do eat carrots, but these should be given only as a treat as they are high in sugar. A rabbit’s diet should include unlimited hay and this should be available to them at all times. Pellets should be offered in limited quantities to rabbits over seven months old. Do not feed pellets with nuts, seeds, dried vegetables or other “treats” in them to your pet rabbit!  These pellets are low in quality and very high in fat. 

Vegetables such as dark leafy greens should also make up a large portion of your rabbit’s diet. Iceberg lettuce (normal head lettuce) should not be given to rabbits as this type of lettuce causes diarrhea because of its high water content.