Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters), so they require a diet high in fibre. They should be provided with fresh grass and good quality meadow/oaten hay, which make up about 80% of its total diet. The other 20% represents vegetables and herbs such as carrot, broccoli, silverbeet, chicory, buk choy, mint and parsley (to name a few!) Lucerne hay is only to be fed to very young rabbits due to its high calcium content. Celery and lettuce should only be fed in small amounts due to their being low in nutritional value.
Rabbits should also have access to a small amount of good quality pellets daily, and owners should avoid feeding dried fruit and nut mixes as they are very high in fat and sugar and can cause health problems. Bread should also be avoided.
Your rabbit should have easy access to fresh, clean water daily- either in a bottle or bowl.
Calicivirus is periodically released in the cooler southern regions of Australia to control wild populations of rabbits, and vaccination is therefore recommended in these areas. Fortunately we do not see Calicivirus infection in the Kimberley.
There is no vaccination in Australia for Myxomatosis, so to avoid exposing your rabbit they need to be kept indoors at dawn and dusk, up to date with flea and mite control, and outdoor enclosures should be mosquito proof.
Monthly flea treatment is important, and while there is no rabbit-specific product, Revolution and Advantage (for cats) are both safe products to use.
Desexing is also encouraged to avoid unwanted pregnancies, negative behaviours such as aggression and territorialism, and cancers. Males can be desexed at 4-6 months of age, and females can be desexed at 5-6 months of age.
Frequent dental checks are recommended for rabbits.
Being a prey species, it is important to make sure your bunny has a place they feel safe enough in to call home. They can live indoors or outdoors, provided they are protected from extreme heat and cold.
If outdoors, it is important to ensure their enclosure is protected from mosquitoes and other insects, and the floor should be a strong solid surface such as wood with a thick layer of regularly changed straw for them to sit on to ensure they do not develop foot problems.
Did you know your rabbit can learn how to use a litter tray? They are very clever and clean animals. Just ensure it is changed regularly to avoid urine scalding. Rabbits should have supervised play in unfiltered sunlight regularly.
This information sheet was created to be used as a general guide only, and should not be used to replace a professional veterinary consultation.