1. Rabbits are NOT rodents!
Many people think that mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits are all very similar, but the truth is they have quite a few differences which separate them.
Rabbits, hares and an animal called a ‘pika’ make up the order known as ‘Lagomorpha’ separate from the order ‘Rodentia’. Where some rodents will typically feast on meat and vegetables, lagomorphs are strictly herbivores. Both groups of animals’ teeth continuously grow throughout their life, but lagomorphs have four incisors in their upper jaw, compared with rodents - who only have two!
As if we didn’t need this information to already know – rabbits are a very special group of animals indeed!
2. Carrots are NOT good for rabbits!
What’s this? Surely not?! But Bugs Bunny was always chewing on a carrot!
Carrots and bunnies go together like dogs with bones! It’s time to end that myth. In the wild rabbits wouldn’t naturally eat root vegetables or fruit, but instead the bulk of their diet would consist of grass.
Carrots are very high in sugar and if fed to a rabbit regularly it can lead to serious health problems such as obesity, digestive issues and tooth decay. Instead, aim to feed your bunny with endless amounts of hay (seriously the more the better!), some leafy greens (kale, spinach etc.), herbs (parsley, coriander etc.) and a small amount of pellets.
3. Rabbits live longer than you think!
Domestic rabbits live on average between 8 and 12 years! Similar to dogs, miniature or dwarf breeds tend to live longer than giant breeds. Taking on a new pet rabbit is a huge commitment and one not to be taken lightly.
4. Rabbits love company!
Bunnies are social animals who love to live in a pair or a group with their own kind. Research shows rabbits are more content and less stressed when they are kept in a bonded group. Pairs between spayed and neutered females and males typically get on the best, but it isn’t unusual for friendships to form between two males and two females too.
The benefits of taking on bonded rabbits mean that they won’t be as lonely, will have someone to help groom those difficult to reach spots and have someone to snuggle with when the temperature drops.
Always make sure your bunnies are bonded before leaving them alone and never introduce two strangers together without feeling confident you can break up a fight! For more advice on bunny bonding click here.
A common misconception though it that it’s ok to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together. Despite this being a popular thing to do years ago, it is now understood this is detrimental to the health of both animals. Guinea pigs and rabbits have different dietary requirements too and with rabbits typically being bigger and stronger than the ‘piggies’ injuries commonly occur.
5. Rabbits need lots of space!
A pet rabbit’s living space should consist of an enclosed sleeping area, litter tray, food and water bowls and plenty of room to move around. It is essential a rabbit can stretch out in all directions as a living space which restricts this movement can cause major health problems including spinal injuries, muscle wastage and obesity.
The minimum living requirements for a rabbit are an overall environment measuring at least 10ft x 6ft, recommended by The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund. This should incorporate a living space and exercise run.
The more room you can provide for your rabbits the happier and healthier they will be! For more information about rabbit enclosures click here
6. Rabbits benefit from neutering
Rabbits love to have babies and will reach sexual maturity by 3-6 months, so it is important to make sure a male and female are neutered and fully recovered before introducing them.
The female rabbit (doe) has a gestation period of between 28-31 days and can give birth to between 1 and 12 kits, depending on the breed. Within hours of giving birth she will be able to fall pregnant again, so in a short time, if you are not careful, you could end up looking after a LOT of bunnies!
Additionally, neutering and spaying your rabbits have many health benefits for the animal including reduced risk of cancer (especially in females) and urinary tract infections. Research shows aggressive and territorial behaviour is also reduced in fixed bunnies!
7. Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes
It is up for dispute, but most people recognise there are over 300 rabbit breeds – this has occurred either through natural selection or, more typically, selective breeding. Rabbits are usually bred for their size, coat or temperament. Some of the most common breeds in the UK are the Lionhead, Flemish Giant, Holland Lop and Netherland Dwarf.