Rabbit care: your frequently asked questions answered!

Considering keeping a rabbit? Have some questions about how best to care for your bunny? We'll answer some frequently asked questions on rabbit care.

Are you thinking about keeping a rabbit? It’s a great idea, whether you have a family with children, or live alone. But we’re guessing you have some questions about how best to care for your rabbit...We'd be happy to answer them for you.

How do you get your rabbit accustom to being with people?

To do this, you need to socialize your pet as early as possible. If you don't touch or physically interact with a rabbit at a young age or if you handle it too roughly later on, the animal may find contact unsettling.

So move slowly and talk quietly around your rabbit so it doesn't become startled. And pick up your pet correctly: stay close to the ground, while firmly holding your rabbit's hindquarters (and maybe even all four paws). This will make your animal feel much safer! Never lift a rabbit by the ears. This is very stressful and can lead to injury.

Can you put your rabbit in the bathtub?

The short answer: you’d better not. This is because the risks far outweigh the potential benefits. Your rabbit may panic while bathing and suffer injuries. Moreover, your pet's fur will not dry properly, leaving the animal vulnerable to respiratory illness or even hypothermia.

Bearing this in mind, only wash the dirty spots of your rabbit, using a special shampoo recommended by your veterinarian. Want to clean your rabbit's paws? Then dip them in room temperature water, rub some shampoo onto them and rinse them with a little water. Don’t use running water, which is too loud and powerful for many rabbits. You can clear their dirty bottoms with a damp towel.

How to take care of your rabbit's nails and teeth?

Your rabbit's nails should be trimmed regularly, ideally every 3 to 4 weeks, not just when they’re too long. For this, it’s best not to use ordinary nail clippers. After all, they’re designed to cut flat, thin nails, and your rabbit's nails are round. Does your rabbit have white nails? Then use a backlight to see where the vein in the nail ends. Cut gently but smoothly between the vein and the tip of the nail to avoid bleeding. Do you find this unpleasant or hard to do? Then your veterinarian will be happy to help you, at little to no cost.

You don't need to brush your rabbit's teeth, because their teeth can't get dirty. After all, they are constantly growing. Usually, feeding your rabbit a high fibre diet (and lots of hay!) is enough to take good care of the teeth. Do you suspect your rabbit has a toothache or that its teeth are not growing properly? Then be sure to go to the vet to have your rabbit's teeth taken care of. They will file down the teeth under anesthesia.

How to tell if your rabbit is pregnant?

If your rabbit is pregnant, it will show signs of nesting behavior and become aggressive if you try to pick it up. In addition, pregnant rabbits pull out their fur, which they then use to keep their newborns warm. Rabbits can be pregnant as early as 12 weeks of age, and have an average gestation period of 31-33 days.

Rabbits do not menstruate and are in heat throughout the year. Female rabbits have an induced ovulation: they only discharge an egg when a suitable partner is nearby. So during mating or just before (non-cyclical).

How to determine your rabbit’s gender?

When your bunny is about 6 weeks old, you may already be able to determine its gender. Not sure? Then wait until your young pet is 9 weeks old, at which point it may be easier to tell. From 3 months onward, it definitely becomes easier, because the sexual organs are more developed at that point.

Put your rabbit on your lap or on a table -belly up and its tail down - so that you can see its genitals. Hold your rabbit firmly but gently - you don't want to startle it! In a male, the penis and anus are far apart, while the (oval) vulva and anus of females are closer together.

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