Rabbit Care 101
Welcome to Nibble & Gnaw's Rabbit Care 101. A comprehensive overview on all things rabbit! From fun facts about our long eared friends, to how to house, care for and feed them - no stone is unturned in our guide. Find out if rabbits make for suitable pets for children and also how our very own Ultra-Premium Canadian Timothy Hay is such an important nutritional cornerstone.
Fun Facts About Rabbits
Over the last few months, we have spent a lot of time finding out many fascinating facts and figures about bunnies… have a browse you might learn a few new things about your furry friends.
Did you know?:
- A male rabbit is called a buck, a female is a doe and a baby rabbit is called a kit
- Rabbits can see behind them without rotating their head but they have a blind spot directly in front of their face
- Rabbits can jump up to 90 cm in height and 3 metres in length – that’s a long way!
- Rabbits recognise their owners by shape, smell and voice – so they won’t mind if you forget to use deodorant a day or two!
- The RSPCA recommends that between 80-90% of our rabbits’ daily diet should consist of hay or grass! This keeps our bunnies’ digestive system on track, naturally wears down those ever-growing teeth and guarantees fun for them to forage in sweet smelling, long stem hay!
- Rabbits are clean animals who groom themselves and their bonded partner from head to toe about five times a day!
- Rabbits’ teeth grow around 8 – 10 inches per year. That means our cute little herbivores can carry on munching on hay all day long without ever turning into toothless wonders! It’s a pity the same doesn’t apply for humans…
- When a rabbit is happy, they tend to express themselves by jumping up in the air, twisting and flicking their feet – aka, a binky!
- Rabbits need at least 3 – 4 hours free-range exercise a day, so make sure their run is lovely and open! Even better, give them the run of the house… they will be in heaven!
We would love to hear from you if you have any interesting facts or stories about bunnies. We are also keen to hear about your rabbits’ behaviour, what they like to eat, how you keep them occupied and how easy are they to handle! Of course, we love photographs of your bunnies so please get in touch with your favourite photos at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s been lots of publicity about rabbits’ living quarters over the past year… and with the genius tag line ”A Hutch is not enough” created by our friends over at RAW (Rabbit Awareness Week 2017), I am sure the message is filtering through to the many rabbit owners who want the best for their furry friends. However, just in case you need a reminder, we have put together some tips on the best environments for your rabbits to hang out in!
Hutch / Cage Sizes & Exercise Runs
Rabbits are active animals (think wild rabbits) and need plenty of room to jump, hop, run, dig and stand fully upright without their ears touching the roof. And don’t forget, they need to stretch out fully when lying down! By permanently attaching your rabbits’ shelter (for example, a large hutch, cage, shed or playhouse) to their exercise run, your bunnies will have space and the choice of which area they spend time in.
Protection from the Elements
The shelter and run needs to be ventilated, dry, draught-free and protected against extremes of weather. Many owners make a home for their rabbits in a shed or a playhouse and now it’s becoming more and more popular for rabbits to live indoors with the family too.
A Safe Place
Your rabbits need constant access to additional safe hiding places where they can escape, if they feel afraid, as well as platforms for which they can scan their environment for threats.
Living in the House
More and more rabbits are being kept in the house these days which is a great way of keeping an eye on them – they feel secure, can search out their favourite hiding place, love the companionship and won’t get bored! However, your bunnies will need somewhere secure to call their own like a dog crate or if you have plenty of space a room of their own. Rabbits need a minimum 3 hours free range time every day so ideally letting them loose around part of the house is a great way of keeping them fit, happy and healthy too!
Bedding and Timothy Hay!
Finally, Bunnies must have their creature comforts – luscious, long stem Timothy hay ! They will need enough for bedding to keep them cosy and warm, plenty to nibble and gnaw on all day long, and of course don’t forget they love to forage! If you need premium Timothy Hay you're certainly in the right place. We have a fantastic selection of First Cut and Second Cut Timothy Hay in stock and ready to ship from Nibble & Gnaw.
Daily Rabbit Care Video
Check out this quick, simple overview from our friends at 101 Rabbits
Rabbits as a Pet for Children
It's not uncommon for a rabbit or hamster to be a child's first pet. Having a pet is a great first step towards responsibility, respect, patience, compassion, care and love!
Rabbits are often thought of as low maintenance and the perfect pet, but it's not always the case. If you are considering adopting a rabbit because it is cute, furry and low maintenance - think again! Rabbits need love, attention and space to live and display their natural behaviours.
Rabbits are a huge commitment. Not only on time, but also potentially financially. Parents often think buying a rabbit is inexpensive but seldom think of the cost of neutering, yearly vaccinations and unexpected veterinary bills.
It's always valuable to seek the opinion of experts. We would draw your eye towards the Rabbit Welfast Association & Fund (RWAF) and their article 'think you want a rabbit?'. This is a great source of information generally, but has advice regarding children that resonates strongly with the Nibble & Gnaw team:
"Rabbits are rarely cuddly - as prey animals they are nervous by nature and can bite or scratch when stressed. Building up a relationship with a rabbit takes time and patience and has to be on the rabbit's terms. Children often lack this patience."
If you still wish to have rabbits as a part of your family life, let's have a look at how rabbits can become a part of our families and teach our children a few life skills along the way.
Teaching Kids to Take Responsibility
Having a rabbit is a great way of teaching children responsibility (but remember to keep a watchful eye!).
Children love spending time with their furry friend, until the novelty wears off. Then it becomes harder. It's important to be persistent. Remind and encourage them to feed, water and care for their pet. It's an important early lesson in responsibility which can go a long way in later life.
It's important to remember however that Rabbits are crepuscular. This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. This unlikely to be when your children will want to spend time with them. With that in mind, an adult will often become the 'primary carer' for your family rabbit. They should consider the time they can spend with the rabbit, feeding early in the morning and evening for example.
Rabbits often sleep during the day. If their sleep is disturbed they can get a little frustrated. Rabbits can express their annoyance in different ways. This includes turning their back to you, thumping or even attempting to nip if you don't read their body langauge. With that in mind, it's important to spend time with your rabbits when they are most active.
Respect your Rabbits and they will respect you!
Rabbits are prey animals so are easily startled. Always approach them with caution, compassion and care. It's also important to respect their boundaries. They often prefer their own company and, at times, aren't keen on cuddles or lifts either.
Sitting on the floor with them instead of picking them up is a great way to earn trust and preferable to lifting where possible.
Rabbits communicate with each other and their humans with different body language and some noises. It's important to be mindful of this, and aware of your rabbit's body language to try and learn what they're trying to tell you.
It's likely your kids may learn the hard way in the form of a bite or two when they overstep the mark! But the long term benefit will be a greater understanding about our furry friends' needs.
Having respect for others and a compassion for animals is a wonderful trait to pick up at a young age and keeping a rabbit in the family is a great way to get there.
The Perfect Indoor Pet
Whilst children might yearn for a labrador, a pony, or indeed a unicorn, it's important to work within our means! Rabbits are a great indoor pet because they don't require a huge amount of space, are clean and can easily be toilet trained. Don't expect noise complaints from the neighbours either. If peace and quiet is your aim, look no further!
That Special Bond
Rabbits have really distinct personalities ranging from charming, rambunctious and playful, to shy, reserved and perhaps a little challenging. One thing's for sure, they are all unique and special.
What's special is the bond a rabbit forms with their owners. They'll recognise you by sight and sound, even learning to come on command. You may find your rabbit following you from room to room and jumping into your lap when called!
Rabbits prefer not to be disturbed while eating, however you can hand feed your rabbit to instil trust and help develop a bond.
Rabbits can be wonderful companions for kids and adults alike. This is providing you treat them with respect, compassion and of course heaps of Nibble & Gnaw Ultra Premium Timothy Hay!
Timothy Hay for Rabbits
A rabbit can live from 8-12 years - but only if they maintain a proper diet. One of key lessons for children to learn is how crucial it is to keep your pets well fed, nutritionally balanced and fulfilled.
This brings us onto our Timothy Hay. Rabbits need at least one bundle of good quality hay as big as they are every single day. When they eat this much of something it's important you're feeding them a good product.
Timothy Hay is widely considered the best form of hay for rabbit nutrition. At Nibble & Gnaw, we source our Timothy Hay from the Canadian Prairies, where the growing conditions are perfect for growing ultra-premium hay that is extremely high in nutritional content.
Because Rabbits have a very intricate digestive system, fibre is absolutely crucial in ensuring the health of your rabbit and the normal digestion of their food. Timothy Hay in particular is an exceptionally nutritious, high fibre, high energy, low protein, low calcum type of grass hay that is an excellent food source for the bunnies in your life.
Our Timothy Hay also promotes dental health and keeps your pet mentally stimulated. A nice full rack of Nibble & Gnaw Timothy Hay will give your rabbit ample opportunity to forage, chew and keep active and stimulated.
At Nibble & Gnaw, we stock both First Cut and Second Cut Timothy Hay, each providing a multitude of different core benefits for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and other small mammals. Not sure which is right for your pet? Check out our 'try me' starter pack so you can experience the best of both worlds!
Adopt Don't Shop!
A large question mark hovers above why so many rabbits are needing rehomed, but the answer is almost always to do with a lack of understanding of how to care properly for these animals. If given enough grub (hay, hay and more hay), space to roam around (the run of the house preferably or the ground floor at least), and the company of another furry friend, your buns will thrive and make lovely, loyal friends.
Why Rescue a Rabbit?
The endless list of reasons to adopt a rabbit have been compiled into one list by Save a Fluff. So on the off chance you aren’t ringing your local rabbit rescue home as we speak, these reasons, and a few of our own, have been listed below:
- Why encourage the breeding process when there are 67,000 rabbits in rescue centres around the country?
- Why spend money buying rabbits from a pet shop when you can re-home for free and get advice and support as well?
- Rescue rabbits are already neutered and vaccinated, saving you lots of money up front.
- You get aftercare and the rescue will always be there as back up if you have any queries.
- If you already have one, rescue homes help you to choose a rabbit that will most likely become your rabbit’s best friend…easy-peasy!
- Adopt one rabbit and you’ll save two – In effect, you’re rescuing an animal and making room for a new one to be rescued.
- Rescues have bunnies of all ages and breeds so there are plenty to choose from.
- If you are adopting a pair of rabbits, they will already be bonded by the rescue home.
- Rabbits can be litter trained and spend a lot of time grooming themselves. In essence, they are nice clean
- Rabbits do not need to be walked, so you can keep the feet up! However, they do need lots of exercise so it is a good idea to let them run around the house or in the garden.
- Rabbits are so much fun, a wonderful companion and a perfect pet
What to Feed Rabbits
Had your bun been born into the wild, an abundance of delicious grass would surround them all the doo-dah day. However for our domesticated bunnies, this isn’t the case…and that’s where hay comes into play!
The RSPCA recommends that 80-90% of your rabbit’s diet should consist of hay or grass as it is integral in maintaining optimum intestinal health in all rabbits. The high fibre content is very beneficial for them and keeps everything in their digestive system running smoothly.
This brings us onto the type of hay that is ideal for our bunnies. We source our Timothy Hay from the Canadian Prairies, where the growing conditions are perfect for growing ultra-premium hay that is extremely high in nutritional content. As rabbits have a very intricate digestive system, fibre is absolutely crucial in ensuring the health of your rabbit and the normal digestion of their food.
Timothy Hay in particular is an exceptionally nutritious, high fibre, high energy, low protein, low calcum type of grass hay that is an excellent food source for the rabbits in your life.
At Nibble & Gnaw, we stock both First Cut and Second Cut Timothy Hay, each providing a multitude of different core benefits for Rabbits.
Why Vets Recommend Timothy Hay
Food plays a really important role in your rabbit’s health and well-being and as I am sure you are well aware the wrong diet can cause all sorts of health problems especially digestive and dental issues.
That’s why both vets and charities such as the RSPCA and PDSA recommend that by far the best diet for your bunnies is one that reflects a wild rabbit’s diet – fresh clean drinking water, a few dark greens, and about 90% high quality feeding hay – preferably sweet-smelling, greener in colour than bedding hay and long stemmed if possible.
Premium Timothy hay is high in nutritional value and ensures your bunnies will digest lots of lovely fibre, an integral part of making sure their digestive system keeps on working without a hitch!
Rabbit Teeth Care
Did you know that rabbit’s teeth grow continuously, up to 8-10 inches per year, which can cause overlapping, sharp teeth and pain? This speedy growth can be detrimental to your animal’s well-being. This is where our product really comes into its own.
Having copious amounts of long stem hay to nibble and gnaw on ensures that their teeth wear down naturally rather than putting them through the trauma of having their teeth filed at the vets.
Because our Timothy Hay is long stem, the side-to-side motion whilst chewing allows the teeth to wear down naturally. This reduces the chance of cuts within the mouth and the painful overlapping of teeth. If the teeth are naturally worn down there is no need for expensive trips to the vet for teeth extraction or wearing down. Plus, this keeps our furry friends busy chomping away, so boredom will be at an all time-low – yay!
One food that is still popular with some rabbit owners is ‘muesli-style’ mixes – these are a mix of seeds and flakes. However, the mix can cause serious health problems in rabbits as they tend to eat only the sugary bits. It can mean that their teeth don’t wear down naturally and they don’t receive enough fibre to keep their digestion system in perfect working order. This can lead to an assortment of health issues.
To conclude, keep offering your bunnies fresh, high quality hay every day – you can always use the discarded feeding hay for bedding…. And, of course, plenty of fresh water and dark greens always go down well. Needless to say, an occasional treat of a little piece of carrot will be thankfully received! Who knows your rabbit may be so ecstatic they might perform a binky for you!
Why Nibble & Gnaw?
What makes our Nibble & Gnaw hay an ultra premium brand is our overriding commitment to maintaining the highest nutritional quality. Our team of packers break down the bales by hand and sieve it, eliminating any dust and other non-delicious nasties that may be in the hay.
From start to finish, an ample amount of TLC is given to ensure the hay is of the best quality for your furry friends to munch away to their heart’s content.
Our ultra premium product helps us stand out from the crowd. In terms of nutrition, our lovely, fresh, green, long-stem, field, dried Canadian hay is the natural wonder food your rabbit or guinea pig has been waiting for!