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RABBIT AS A PET

5.12.2019

Guide for pet owners: Rabbits do not belong in cages - so keep the residence appropriate to the species

When the desire for a pet emerges, the rabbit quickly comes into focus: A 'small' animal that is considered unpretentious and easy to care for - ideally, as the first pet for children. However, these assumptions are wrong: in fact, the attitude of rabbits requires a lot of time and extensive knowledge, in order to be able to become responsible and fulfill a rabbits needs. 

From an animal protection point of view, rabbits should be kept together with at least one other rabbit in an enclosure that comes closest to the natural habitat of these animals.

The most important in brief

  • Rabbits are not cuddly toys! The pleasure of pet rabbits should lie in observing these fascinating animals, hence they are not suitable for children under ten years.
  • Life expectancy: seven to ten years.
  • Purchase: Give rabbits from animal shelters or a rescue stations a new, beautiful home. Do not buy rabbits in pet shops. In doing this, you support the bad breeding and keeping conditions of the animals!
  • Housing: At least one other rabbit and a near-natural enclosure of at least ten square meters and only in such a way rabbits can live out their natural behavior.
  • Reproduction: Depending on the breed, the sexual maturity of the rabbits begins between the fourth and sixth months, with large breeds somewhat later. If you do not want any offspring, owners should get their animals castrated before they reach sexually maturity.
  • Time: Taking care of the animals take at least 1 hour per day
  • Allergies: The fur of the animals, the required hay and the bedding can cause allergies in humans.
  • Holiday: Make sure that the animals are able to be well accommodated and cared for during your holiday before buying them!
  • Costs: Besides the purchasing costs of the animals, the enclosure and its equipment, as well as high-quality feed and bedding, there are annual veterinary fees for vaccinations. Rabbits often suffer from malpositioned teeth!
  • Food: Please do not feed these animals grain food. Their basic diet is fresh hay. Green fodder, vegetables, fruit and branches of fruit trees provide variety.

Keeping in open-air enclosures

  • The enclosure should be well insulated and provide adequate protection from the weather.
  • A minimum area of 10 square metres should be available for two animals.
  • Since rabbits like to dig and jump, the fence of the enclosure should be at least 50 centimetres into the ground and at least 150 centimetres high.
  • The enclosure should be easy for the owner to clean (install lockable door!) and secured against the intrusion of predators.

 

Housing in the apartment

FOUR PAWS advises against a pure indoor keeping. The following points are aimed at pet owners who already keep rabbits and are unable to keep them outside permanently.

  • All commercial cages offered for indoor and outdoor keeping are too small and not appropriate for the species! With indoor keeping only, a room enclosure of at least 10 square meters is essential.
  • There should be feeding, bottle and retreat possibilities available and cables and poisonous houseplants should be sufficiently secured.
  • The habitat of the animals should be quiet, bright and free of draughts or extreme heat radiation. The keeping on the balcony is unsuitable because of the danger of heat accumulation.

What else you should consider, when it comes to keeping rabbits, you can read in our info brochure, which you can download here for free: