As Easter rolls around again (even though with recent weather you would be forgiven for thinking its Christmas) the rate of people buying pet rabbits shoots up. Any new bunny owner needs to know how to keep their new pet safe, especially if they are being kept outside.
It is worth mentioning that Pets at Home have banned people from buying rabbits over the Easter period to stop bunnies that are brought on impulse from being abandoned or mistreated. This means that you will not be able to walk in to a Pets at Home and walk out with a rabbit, instead the company are offering free workshops to educate children on small animals and pet ownership. A study showed that around 67,000 rabbits were given to shelters each year, and an undocumented number are actually just left on the street. Pets at Home believe that parents are encouraged to buy their children’s rabbits over the Easter period but once the novelty wears off, the realities of looking after a rabbit settle in and it’s not something that people are happy to maintain.
However, if you are thinking of purchasing a rabbit its best to do some research on how to keep them safe and happy.
If you are planning for your rabbit to live outside then you will need to take some more steps to make sure they are safe. Bunnies need a dry, clean, ventilated and relatively large home to thrive. You also need to make sure they are safe from predators such as cats, dogs, foxes and even badgers. Domesticated rabbits have been known to die from the shock of seeing or being confronted by a predator. It is worth making sure your garden is secure, so that the risk of a predator getting in is minimal.
You will also need to make sure the hutch your bunny lives in is secure. Bunnies have big teeth and given enough time can chew through wood. Good practice is to reinforce the back of your hutch with a solid plank of wood; this will make it harder for your bunny to escape and predators to get in. It is extremely important that your rabbit has an enclosed area of their hutch; this enables them to hide from predators and protect themselves from adverse weather.
Speaking of weather, you will need to make sure your outside rabbit is well ventilated during the hot summer months as well as have constant access to clean fresh water. One tip is to freeze some plastic water bottles placing them in the floor straw to give your bunny some cool places to rest. You also need to make sure your bunny’s home is suitable for the winter months. Before the very cold months hit, check your bunny’s cage to any damp places or leaks. You can purchase special heaters to keep your bunnies warm, but if you don’t want to splash the cash on a heater there are other ways you can help your rabbit keep warm. You can use newspaper to line the walls and floors, covering any exposed areas with plastic sheeting and covering the whole hutch with a tarp or blanket at night. You will also need to frequently check that the water supply has not frozen and provide a little extra food, to give your rabbit the energy to keep warm at night.
You might think that having your bunny live indoors will keep them safer, however there are lots of hazards in your home that you need to watch out for. The biggest and most well known risk to having a rabbit in doors is them chewing through wires. If your rabbit chews through an electric cord then it is more than likely that they will die, so it is important to bunny proof your home. You can do this by encasing wires in heavy duty plastic, keeping them out of reach or blocking them with furniture. Rabbits are adventurous and have a tendency to jump off and on furniture, however rabbit’s spines are very fragile and if they land wrong it can mean a broken spine. It is advisable to always keep a close eye on your bunny if they are roaming free in the house. It is also good to keep an eye on the rabbit if it tends to chew on furniture as if they swallow a large amount then it can block your bunny’s digestive system. You can give your rabbit an alternative to chew on; there are many things available to buy such as a natural chewable toys. It is also not advisable to give your rabbit human food as it can be poisonous, especially raw potatoes, they are as poisonous to rabbits as chocolate is to dogs.
We hope that these tips help you keep your bunnies safe, not just over Easter, but for the whole of their lives. For more information visit www.wikihow.com/Keep-Pet-Rabbits-Safe.
Remember…..a rabbit is for life, not just for Easter! Unless it’s of the chocolate variety!