Thank you for buying a rabbit from Snowberry Holland Lops. I wish you well with your new friend.
Just a few tips to ensure a successful transition from our rabbitry to your home
Feeding: I feed the babies 18% rabbit pellets; along with a small daily treat of rolled oats (for horses), black oil sunflower seeds, and a few pellets of calf Manna. They are also fed grass hay or a grass/alfalfa mix hay daily. Straight alfalfa is usually too rich for them. If you give them too much hay on the floor, they will mess in it and it will need to be removed.
When your rabbit is about 6 months old or full grown, you can switch to a 16% pellet if your rabbit becomes chubby. You don't want your rabbit to get too fat!
DO NOT FEED GREENS OR VEGETABLES to your bunny until it is at LEAST 5 months old. Baby rabbits are very susceptible to enteritis (diarreah) since their digestive systems are so sensitive. Fibre intake is very important to preventing enteritis (hay), as is a consistent diet. You are not doing your bunny any favours by giving him 'treats' too soon.
Some people choose to free feed their rabbit, meaning that pellets are always available. Others feed once or twice a day. A rule of thumb is 1 oz of pellet per pound of rabbit. If your rabbit is skinny or too fat, adjust accordingly. In my rabbitry, I measure the pellets, giving about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup to each rabbit. I free feed does with litters.
Remember, rabbits do eat their night feces. This is a normal and vital part of the rabbit's diet, which ensures the animal gets the correct vitamins and bacteria for healthy digestion. You may see your rabbit doing this in the early morning.
A constant supply of fresh, clean water is vital to your rabbit's health. If your rabbit lives outside in the winter and the water freeze, you must make sure to remove the ice. Licking the ice will not quench your rabbit's thirst! Water bottles are good for keeping the water clean. I used bowls in the winter, so that I can pop out the ice.
Shelter: Your bunny has been living outdoors and is used to Whistler weather. As long as your hutch provides shelter from cold winds, drafts and rain, your rabbit should be fine. There is more danger to rabbits in the summer from overheating. If it is a hot summer day, make sure your bunny is kept somewhere shady and cool. A frozen pop bottle can be put in the cage to help keep the temperature down.
Your rabbit can be kept in a wire floor hutch (make sure it is 1x2cm rabbit wire on the floor!) or in a cage in the house in shavings. Please use pine or white shavings or compressed wood pellets. Keep the cage cleaned a few times a week or it will start to smell and could cause an unhealthy rabbit. I prefer the wire bottom cages myself, as it lets the droppings and urine fall through so the rabbit stays clean.
Some rabbits can be litter trained but I can't say I've tried this myself. When your rabbit is loose in the house, watch him at all times. Rabbits love to chew on wires, which obviously are extremely dangerous. My bunnies love to kick up their feet in the house from time to time.
Please be extra cautious when introducing rabbits to other pets. Many dogs regard rabbits as a prey animal and will not hesitate to kill them.
Handling: Bunnies are not like cats and dogs. They are friendly, but don't often demand attention. They have sharp claws and will use them if they don't feel they are being held securely. I find it easiest to pick up my rabbits with one hand under the front arms and the other supporting the rear. Never leave the rear of a rabbit hanging loose, because if it struggles, it could easily twist and break it's own back. With larger rabbits and less tame bunnies, you can grab the scruff of the neck, gently, without pinching or grabbing the ears, and then support the rear. Make sure you don't drag the rabbit out, as you could catch the rabbit's nails or toes on the wire and hurt it.
In either case, quickly tuck the rabbit close to your body. If the rabbit struggles, tuck it's head under your arm and it will settle. The rabbit should be held firmly, but not so tight that it can't breathe or is uncomfortable. Put rabbits back in their cage bottom first. Bunnies don't jump if they can't see where they are going to and you are less likely to get your arms scratched.
Care: It is always a good idea to keep your rabbit's nails trimmed. Use dog clippers and take off the sharp points. On a white toenail you can see the pink 'quick'. Don't cut this or the nail will bleed! If you do cut the quick by accident, styptic powder can be put on the spot. This can be purchased at a pet store.
Also, wear long sleeves, so that if the bunny does kick, he can't do any damage to your skin.
With regular handling, your bunny will get used to you and become quite tame.
Brushing from time to time, especially during the shedding season, will help to keep your rabbit's coat healthy and prevent hairballs. Rabbits do groom themselves, but if they consume too much hair they can get sick.
Turning the rabbit onto it's back and stroking the head a bit or covering the eyes will cause your rabbit to go into a type of trance and will allow you to check it's ears, teeth, bottom, nails. This should be done fairly regularly. I always check their bottoms for droppings that have stuck to the fur.
When a rabbit is stressed, as yours will be on it's first car trip to new surroundings, it might get softer droppings that will stick to the fur. You can gently pull these off with a tissue or you can carefully clip away the long fur that the droppings are stuck to. An adult should do this because it is easy to catch the skin by mistake.
Check ears for any build up. They should be clean and clear. Check the teeth to ensure they are not overgrown. Should you ever find anything wrong with your rabbit's teeth, I would appreciate it if you could let me know.
I have wormed your bunny before it left the rabbitry. If your rabbit is allowed to be where other rabbits have been or to roam on the ground, it could pick up worms again. I use Piperazine with my animals.
For more information, there are many good books on rabbit care at pet stores and libraries. If you have access to the Internet, there is a wealth of rabbit information! You can also join email groups to chat about your rabbit and with other interested people. Children might also be interested in joining your local 4H club to learn more about rabbit care.
Good luck with your new bunny!
Snowberry Holland Lops