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Rabbit Caresheet

Taking Care Of Your Rabbit
This guide will answer many of your questions and will help you take good care of your rabbit.  Sometimes you will have to consult your local veterinarian on animal health problems.  You, your veterinarian and your pet store will form the team which will be responsible for you rabbit's well-being during it's lifetime.  A rabbit is a lovable pet, good around children, and also well suited to apartment dwellers.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are not rodents, but belong to a similar group known as lagomorphs.  They live between 8 and 10 years and grow depending upon breed to between 2 and 20 pounds.
A rabbit is a hardy animal and loves attention.  It's also a quiet, sensitive, timid animal which frightens easily.  Responsible rabbit care includes a calm, quiet approach mixed with lots of attention.
Taking Your Rabbit Home
When choosing your rabbit at your pet shop, make sure its eyes are clear and bright.  It's nose dry and free of discharge and the area under its tail dry and clean.  The lower teeth should not overlap the upper teeth.  Its ears should be straight and held up properly, with the exception of lop-eared rabbits whose ears naturally fold over.  The coat should be shiny and smooth with no bald spots.  Its general appearance should be alert and lively.
NEVER pick up your rabbit by the ears!  This will not only harm your rabbit, but will also cause it to be frightened of you each time you approach it in the future.  The proper way to pick your rabbit up is to place one hand beneath the its hind legs to support the weight, then gently lift it up by the loose skin on the back of its neck.
Rabbits can live either indoors as house pets or can be kept outside in a hutch in a temperate climate, but need protection from extremes of heat and cold.
An all wire standard rabbit cage with pull out pan, purchased from your petstore, is the best choice for an indoor pet.
If you decide to keep your rabbit outside in a hutch, provide a structure with an enclosed section so your rabbit can keep dry on rainy days and find shade on hot summer days.  During the cold winter months, pack the enclosed section with straw or hay and be sure the hutch is not facing into the prevailing wind.
The hutch can be constructed of wire and wood and should have legs to raise the floor of the cage above the damp and drafts at ground level.  The hutch size depends on the breed of rabbit.  The floor of the open portion should be 1/2" by 1" to allow droppings to fall through and provide proper foot support for the animal.  A roomy hutch that will allow a little hopping around will make a rabbit a happier and more docile pet.
You can make a hutch yourself, or purchase it ready-made from a pet shop.  Rabbits are clean animals--most will choose one corner of the cage for the bathroom.  The corner should be cleaned daily.  Good ventilation in the cage area and clean living conditions will help prevent rabbit illnesses.  Also keep this in mind if you keep your rabbit inside as a house pet, it can usually be paper trained or litter-box trained.
Your rabbit needs an adequate cage but also enjoys daily exercise with you.

The most convenient and nutrionally balanced food for your rabbit is a good brand of pellet food, available from your pet shop.  The pellets may be supplemented with small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruit, carrots, apples, broccoli, cauliflower and dried whole wheat bread.
Be sure to keep all feed containers clean and dry.
Fresh water must be provided at all times.  A water bottle can't be knocked over or spilled.  The bottle should be emptied, rinsed and filled everyday and disinfected once a week with diluted hypochlorite solution.  During winter when water bottles and crocks freeze, rabbits must be offered drinkable water several times a day.
Most rabbits will choose to use a litter box filled with kitty litter.  Provide one in your rabbit's cage and your pet will probably return to the box if it is accessible when the cage is open.  Check the litter box daily.  If it is wet and soiled, the rabbit will avoid using it.
You can take your rabbit for walks using a secure nylon and figure-eight harness but you cannot make it follow you like a dog.  Let the pet lead you.  Indoor excercise is fine, too.  It likes to hop around and stretch its legs, once free of its cage.  Your rabbit may enjoy hard rubber balls and other toys.
Health Care
A rabbit's teeth continue to grow over its lifetime and are routinely ground down by chewing.  Sometimes teeth will over-grow and must be trimmed.  Have a veterinarian show you how to do this.  Always provide chewable items for your bunny such as wooden toys.
Rabbits eyes do not tear.  Therefore any irritation of the eyes needs immediate attention by your veterinarian.
Your pet shop is the one source of important information and supplies useful in providing responsible rabbit care.  You may also inquire about registering your rabbit with the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA).
This informational pamphlet is not a substitute for a good book.  Visit your pet store for a wide selection of books on the responsible care and maintenance of your pet rabbit.
My Rabbit
Rabbit's Name:______________________________
Checks            Date                      Care Prescribed
______          ______                   _______________________
______          ______                   _______________________
______          ______                   _______________________
______          ______                   _______________________
______          ______                   _______________________
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Copyright March 1987