You've anticipated the new arrival by 'bunny proofing' your garden where necessary and had lots of fun choosing a new hutch, bedding, food and accessories.
This adorable bundle of fluff is sure to bring you much joy. In return, you can make a contribution to your pet’s longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him/her with good nutrition, loving attention, a clean environment and regular check ups.
What does a young rabbit health check include?
Your new rabbit should visit a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.
The first visit will probably include:
* A thorough physical examination to determine his/her state of health.
* An examination of your rabbit’s coat, checking for any parasites or flaky skin.
* Vaccinations and/or a discussion about the types of vaccination your rabbit needs and when they should be scheduled.
* Discussion about whether your rabbit should be neutered and when.
The first health check will give your veterinary surgeon the information he/she needs to advise you on your rabbit’s immediate diet and care. This initial consultation will create a “knowledge base” and on subsequent checkups throughout your rabbit’s life, we can identify, monitor and manage any changes to your pet’s health.
With sensitive handling and friendly contact for at least an hour a day, your new rabbit should soon be very comfortable with you and their new home. Ensure he/she has a waterproof hutch with plenty of straw or shavings for bedding, water and food.
If there are young children in the home, make sure that they are taught that a rabbit is not a toy but a living creature who must be treated gently and with respect.
Neutering your rabbit
The decision to get your rabbit neutered is something that you should discuss with your vet. The process for male and female rabbits is different but both provide many long-term benefits for you and the health and wellbeing of your pet rabbit.
Male rabbits (bucks) tend to have the same drawbacks as tom cats if they’re not castrated. Most are territorial and frequently spray urine, and aggression is a common problem. Neutered males tend to be happier and more relaxed. Nearly all neutered males will stop spraying urine even if the operation is performed later in life. Castration, removes the testicles of the rabbit. This procedure can take place as soon as the testicles descend at around 10 – 12 weeks, however it is better done when the rabbit is around 4 or 5 months old.
Having female rabbits (does) spayed is even more important. Most females become territorial and aggressive from sexual maturity onwards (4-6 months). They have repeated false pregnancies, and may growl at, scratch and bite their owners as well as attacking other rabbits they are housed with. Up to 80% of un-spayed female rabbits develop uterine cancer by 5 years of age. Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female rabbit, usually around the age of 4 or 5 months. Spayed females are likely to live longer than their un-spayed sisters.