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Rabbit Residence calls for greater awareness of responsible ownership

Rabbit Residence calls for greater awareness of responsible ownership

Rosewood has teamed up with the bunny brains behind Rabbit Residence, a rabbit rescue and rehoming centre that specialises in caring for Britain’s third most popular pet.

Thousands of rabbits are expected to be bought as presents this Easter, but sadly many of them are likely to be dumped within just a few months. It’s for this reason that Rabbit Residence founder Caroline Collings and her team are calling upon the public to get clued up about these intelligent animals before introducing one into their home.

This week, Rosewood caught up with Rabbit Residence to talk about the reality of owning a rabbit. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: Do you have any advice for introducing a new rabbit to your home?

It’s important not to try and fuss over your new family member too much for the first week. Let them settle in and introduce a regular routine with breakfast and dinner.

You should also take into consideration that rabbits are highly sociable animals and should ideally be kept with a suitable companion. Experts agree that the ideal partnership consists of a neutered female and neutered male of which have been carefully bonded together.

Q: How important is a rabbit’s diet?

Getting a rabbit’s diet wrong can have disastrous health consequences and, unlike Bugs Bunny, rabbits don’t live on carrots!

A rabbit’s digestive system has been designed for a grass-based diet, meaning that they must always have access to good quality grass hay 24/7 and bowls of pellets and treats and should be kept to a minimum.

Pellets are cheap sources of energy and rich in starch. Pets can gorge on these types of food and ignore grasses and hays, which are lower in starch and protein and rich in fibre. This can then increase the risk of obesity, poor digestive health and poor dental health. A rabbit’s digestive system is not designed to eat very rich food all at once, it’s designed to eat high fibre food over a long period of time, just like wild rabbits out grazing in a field. Just like wild rabbits, our pet rabbits love forage, so include natural foods such as dandelion or ribwort plantain or herbs such as parsley or mint as part of their treats. You can even grow these plants fresh just for your bunny.

Try various types of hay to see which ones they prefer if you have a rabbit that doesn’t seem keen on eating hay. Adding a fresh portion several times daily will keep rabbits healthy and occupied. You could also try stuffing a toilet roll or Chew Tube with hay to make meal times more interesting! Sprinkling dried forage on top of hay will also make it more enticing.

Q: What bedding should rabbits have?

We recommend bedding rabbits down on a thick bed of hay, enough to burrow right into if they want to. Straw has no nutritional value and should only be used in the winter for extra insulation.

A rabbit’s home should be vast, never just a hutch on its own. There should be a soft snuggle space where they can bed down in a lovely nest yet enough space to run and play. This can be dig-proofed grass or paving slabs outdoors, which doubles up as a nail trimmer. The hard surface will file down their nails, reducing the need for clipping.

Indoors, make sure they have soft flooring to prevent sore hocks as hard wood floors and vinyl can be slippery and carpet can be surprisingly abrasive to their little paws!

Q: Do rabbits like to play?

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits are very intelligent animals and need to be occupied day and night! Rabbits love to run up and down tunnels, as well as climbing safely up high to survey their surroundings.

They also love to dig, so providing them with boxes full of hay, earth or sand to roll about in will keep them happy and entertained.

Rabbits can be taught tricks, including fetch and responding to their name!

Q: How often do rabbits need grooming?

All rabbits need regular grooming. Whether they’re long, short or “rex” coated, they’ll still molt twice a year. Medium and long coated rabbits, such as Lionheads, struggle to groom themselves and are prone to getting mats. These mats should be carefully teased out. A vet should deal with any serious matting, as rabbits have very fragile skin that can easily be caught by scissors.

A lot of rabbits aren’t big fans of brushing and nail clipping, so it’s best to keep sessions short, peaceful and as stress-free as possible.

The message from Rabbit Residence and Rosewood is clear; Rabbits are not just for Easter but require life-long care and attention.

For more fun facts, tips and advice on our favourite long-eared friends follow @rosewoodpet on Twitter or Facebook. You can also find out more about adopting from Rabbit Residence here

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