Happy National Rabbit Week to you all!
If you own one (or more) of Britain’s third most popular pets, you’re thinking about getting one in 2009, or you’re just a fan of lagomorphs in general, then you’d better read on…
Traditionally rabbits have always been seen to make the ideal children’s pet, seemingly requiring less care and attention than our more popular cats and dogs.
However this has never been further from the truth as we discover more and more about the diet and nutritional needs of Britain’s two million pet rabbits.
For example three out of four rabbits seen by us vets have trouble with their teeth, usually because they grow too long.
These painful and distressing dental problems will commonly cause ulcers on the tongue and gums and require risky general anaesthesia to fix.
However these problems are mostly avoidable – just by ensuring your bunny is fed the right food.
Hay is not just a comfy bed to sleep on – it’s the most important part of your rabbit’s diet, and the best quality stuff has loads of health benefits, like naturally grinding down and maintaining these healthy teeth which can grow upto 3mm a week.
Vital bacteria living in your rabbit’s intestines are notoriously sensitive to the slightest of changes in their environment, so it’s crucial that their gut is kept healthy too – with a well-balanced feed preferably in ‘nugget’ form and high levels of fibre.
Hay also prevents boredom and keeps a foraging rabbit entertained for hours.
Never feed just a muesli mix as your rabbit will simply pick out the bits it likes and leave the rest, thus missing out on vital nutrients and getting a very unbalanced diet, usually high in starch and low in fibre and calcium.
Muesli may look more appetizing to us than pelleted food, but the position of their eyes means that rabbits can’t actually see what they’re eating that well.
Sadly, already one in three rabbits in the UK is obese so why not help your rabbit lose weight by providing lots of opportunities for exercise, playing and feeding a reduced-calorie food.
Rabbit’s tongues contain 7,000 more taste buds than us so offer them some variety in their diet with some healthy treats such as fresh greens, chunks of carrot, broccoli or apple cores, all in moderation.
Don’t forget to keep your rabbit’s vaccinations up-to-date too, especially if they’re also fed grass outdoors. Myxomatosis is fatal, and still very common in local wild rabbit populations.
For more information about rabbits and to find out what events are happening in your area this week visit www.nationalrabbitweek.co.uk