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Caring for Bunny Rabbits

Bunny in basket

Rabbits were first domesticated approximately 3000 years ago, primarily for the meat, fur and wool trades. Today many are kept as pets, while a number of them are used for research in laboratories. Rabbits are social animals and enjoy the company of their own kind. Some people give them a lot of attention, including them in their daily lives, but sadly others have abandoned them to the backyard hutch, having lost interest in the soft, furry critters. Although it is advisable for children to be supervised when looking after rabbits, caring for this fairy-tale like animal can help children to connect with animals and learn responsible guardianship.

If you are considering bringing a domestic rabbit home, then take into account its need for companionship. If another rabbit is not available, then a cat may become its best friend, as mine did with the neighbour's rabbit. However, dogs and cats are predators, so they must be watched around the rabbit, a prey animal. If you are to introduce another rabbit, then this can be done gradually, by placing a wire division/fence between the two and regularly putting the two together for a short time, then back behind the division until you are sure they are getting along fine. Two buck rabbits may fight, so neutering is a good option for both of them. If you put a female (doe) and male (buck) together, then neutering the male will ensure you do not end up with more rabbits than you can cope with. Having the female spayed as well will help ensure she does not become aggressive or unhappy with the neutered male because he is unable to breed with her. It is for good reason that some cultures regard the rabbit as a symbol of fertility.

Rabbits need to be safe, in a space which allows them to exercise adequately with suitable fencing, possibly wire, over the top and on the bottom of the run. Alternatively, they may do well in a large pen - just keep an eye on their digging habits. They like to make holes and dig tunnels. Provide your rabbits with dry housing, clean bedding straw and keep it clean to keep them in good health. Make sure shade, shelter and fresh water are available. Pipes, tunnels, ramps and toys will help keep them stimulated and give them places to hide.

When carrying or holding a rabbit, ensure that the legs and back are well supported, as their fragile backs can break if held carelessly. Put one hand under their bottom and use the other hand to support their back. They can deliver a powerful kick and scratch with their back legs, so be aware of this. Rabbits can live 8 - 12 years or even longer.

Feed your rabbits as closely to what they would eat if they were able to forage naturally in the wild. Grass hay, green leafy vegetables, carrots, broccoli, parsley, mint and your pretty garden flowers will be welcomed by them. You could investigate some of the products on the market to see what will serve them best in the form of pellets as an addition to their diet.

First Light flower essences can be given to assist the rabbits to address issues such as aggression, fear, experiences of trauma or grief and to assist them to adjust to change. The essences chosen will depend upon the personality of the rabbit, its situation, past experiences and what its needs are. For example, No 37 King Fern and No 40 Silver Fern can help a rabbit who has lost a close companion. I like to use cider vinegar as a base rather than brandy when making treatment bottles for small animals. Four drops, from a treatment bottle, can be added 3 - 4 times daily, to their drinking water or food. One or two doses of First Light Crisis Support© may be given if your bunny is traumatised or has experienced an accident. Crisis Support© will help calm its nerves.

Cared for properly, with their needs in mind, bunnies can make beautiful companion animals.

— Marj Marks
Marj is a First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand registered practitioner and registered Veterinary Nurse. Marj can be contacted on 09 422 0177, 027 612 5256 or by email: