Trim Those Claws

It may seem like a really simple thing but it’s also really important.   If rabbit’s claws grow too long they can start to curl in on themselves causing pain and discomfort.  Outdoor rabbits tend to do better at keeping their nails trim themselves as they have more opportunity  to dig and scratch them on hard surfaces, but it is still important  to check on them just in case.

If your bunnies are indoors, it may be necessary to trim their claws for them fairly regularly.  Vets will usually do this for you when you bring them for their regular check-ups, but if you find they need trimmed more often than this, ask your vet to show you how to do them yourself.  All you need is a good pair of  small animal nail clippers.

The Importance of ALWAYS Neutering

At Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care we are strongly of the belief that it is a vital welfare need for ALL domestic rabbits to be neutered (castrated or spayed).  There are a number of reasons for this.

Preventing Unwanted Litters:  The most obvious being population control. Rabbits have their reputation for breeding for a very good reason and failure to neuter a male-female pairing can quickly result in an unmanageable situation.  Does are fertile again within 24 hours of giving birth so it is often the case that by the time an owner realises that there has been a litter the mother is already pregnant again.  This is obviously far from ideal as it breaks down the original bond as dad has to be removed, the first litter almost always has to be weaned early when a second arrives meaning they don’t get the proper start to life and it is incredibly tiring for the mother, not to mention you can easily find yourself with a silly number of rabbits!  There are already an estimated 67,000 unwanted pet rabbits registered through rescue centres every year in the UK with even more  being given up to friends and family or given up via internet sites such as Gumtree.  We want to avoid breeding more!  Simplest way to do this – neuter your rabbits!

Behaviour:  Neutered rabbits are far easier to litter train making them excellent house pets, but even outdoor rabbits are easier to clean out as they tend to keep their hutch cleaner.  Many of the rabbit behaviours which people complain about with their pet rabbits are solved by neutering.  Spraying for example, and “humping” is a natural instinct for an unneutered rabbit, particularly boys but girls too can be guilty of this. This is natural instinct which is caused by the high levels of hormone and ensures that wild rabbits are able to reproduce. Neutering greatly reduces the hormone levels and therefore the need to mount everything that moves which can become a nuisance in the domestic situation. For girls and extension of this is false pregnancy.  Often people will keep a pair of rabbits, neutering only the boys to prevent babies but leaving the girls unneutered.   The problem with this is that the Doe still has the hormones and instinct to reproduce and being with a partner can be enough to make her believe she is pregnant. There have even been reports of single females “bonded” with a human believing she has been mounted after grooming and having a false pregnancy.  So what’s the problem with a false pregnancy?  Nest building can be incredibly labour intensive, involving her pulling out fur and becoming very territorial, sometimes even aggressive towards her partner and or owners.  They will often lose weight and conditioning and become very stressed for weeks at a time.  In the worst situations a female rabbit can suffer from repeated false pregnancies never able to fully recover.  This exhausting condition can be completely avoided by neutering females too, preferably at a relatively young age, before a problem develops.

Bonding:  Rabbits are very sociable and should always be kept with other rabbits, however, they are also very territorial and introducing an unneutered rabbit can be incredibly difficult. When all rabbits in a group are neutered introductions are normally a lot more straightforward.
Health: Neutering can vastly improve a rabbit’s health.  Cancers are very common among rabbits, particularly girls with 80% developing cancer of the uterus by the age of 3. A neutered female rabbit can have a life expectancy of 10 or 12 years!

Health:  Recent research has identified that as many as 80% of un-neutered female rabbits develop deadly cancer of the uterus before the age of 3.  That’s a lot of rabbit lives cut short.  The saddest thing about this fact is that simply spaying the female as soon as possible from the age of 6 months could prevent this and help towards ensuring a long and happy life for the rabbit.

With all of these factors taken into account, and with vets ever more confident about the procedures for both males and females,  for us the benefits of neutering far outweigh the risks and all rabbits from Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care old enough to be are neutered prior to rehoming.

Keep The Gut Moving

Rabbits have very delicate digestive systems so it’s important to ensure they are getting the correctly balanced diet.  This should be 80% hay and grass, 15% a variety of leafy greens herbs and vegetables. And 5% pelleted food (about 1 small egg cup full.)  Getting the wrong diet or a sudden change in diet can have serious repercussions for a bunny’s digestive system.

GI (or gut) stasis is an often deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Bad bacteria then builds up in the intestines and releases gas into the system, causing very painful bloating and further decreasing a rabbit’s motivation to eat or drink. This makes the problem much worse because the rabbit becomes more dehydrated and starved of essential nutrients and roughage which could get things moving again. The contents of the digestive tract then become more compact, and the rabbit will have an even more difficult time passing it through.

If the gut stops moving all together it can be very difficult to get it started again and deterioration in the rabbits is very quick and has been known to result in death within a few hours.

Unless you are experienced in the treatment of GI Stasis, we recommend getting your rabbit to a vet asap.