A Rabbit in a Flat: What does your pet need?

Rabbits are popular pets especially for city flats. It’s because they don’t require a lot of space and don’t need to go outside very often (no garden needed). However, it doesn’t mean taking care of them is easy and no time or efforts are needed. We talked about all the things that should be prepared before you get a rabbit and how to take care of these pets with breeder Nikola Čapková. 

How to pick the right rabbit?

The very basic rule to remember is not to go to a pet shop – the rabbits there are often related to each other and they may have various health problems. The only good choice is to get a rabbit from a registered breeder. And pay attention to this, (s)he really needs to be registered not to breed rabbits just for fun. The only exception are breeding centres of dwarf rabbits and rabbits bred for sports – in the Czech Republic, all of them have a valid pedigree confirmed by the Czech Breeders Association. A list of all registered breeders can be found online as well as the list of breeding centres. It’s necessary to get a rabbit that is registered, have a valid pedigree, a tattoo and a vaccination card with valid vaccinations. It’s also good to mention that the certificate of origin is not only an official pedigree for exhibitions, it’s also guarantees good health. If a rabbit has a certificate of origin, it means both its parents went through the selection for breeding. Therefore, it’s very unlikely that such a rabbit would have health issues. This happens a lot when rabbits come from hobby breeders and unethical breeders.


How to prepare the household for the arrival of a new rabbit?

Firstly, we should think about whether the environment is good for a rabbit. It’s very different if there is a pet in the household already or when the rabbit is the first pet. Of course, a rabbit can live with other pets, but they can’t make it stressed (for example when we let a dog play catch with the rabbit). Cables and other dangerous objects are another feared problem. A rabbit might get hurt or it might destroy these things. These should be put away.


What should we buy before the rabbit’s arrival?

It depends on what we can afford and how we want to take care of the rabbit, i.e. how much freedom we want it to have. The most common choice is a cage with an open door and the rabbit can go inside at any time. Also, a pen is a good idea – a part of the room is enclosed with a fence and the rabbit has its own space there. A rabbit can also live in a special hutch which is perfect for flats. A bowl and/or a drinker with water is necessary in the household. A drinker might be better compared to a bowl because the rabbit can’t fall into it and the water stays clean. It should also have access to hay that should be in a manger and not on the floor so the pet doesn’t go or pee on it. There should also be some part of the cage that is designed as a toilet. There are more types of that, for example with a grid or without. One of the options for cage equipment is to use a carpet and have the toilet under the manger. If you decide to have a toilet without a grid, it’s good to add some wooden pellets or any other absorbent bedding.


Is there something we should only buy after the rabbit’s arrival?

Definitely, it’s feed. It’s good to get it according to the information from the breeder who should tell you what (s)he feeds their rabbits with and why. (S)he should also tell you other details related to nutrition, e.g. if a rabbit is used to dry food or wet food and other things. Feed is very important for rabbits, their health and often also their lives depend on it.


How should we adjust the room the rabbit is going to live in?

I would definitely restrict access to dangerous things like cables, unsuitable feed for other pets (for example) and a rabbit shouldn’t also have access to poisonous flowers, sharp objects or places it could get stuck in. Such a risk might be even the cage, so I recommend putting a blanket or a solid board on it so a rabbit cannot jump up and get stuck in the gaps.


How should we prevent unpleasant smell caused by the rabbit or its home?

A cage needs to be regularly cleaned; the rabbit might otherwise catch various diseases. Also, suitable bedding is important, especially for its toilet. Wooden pellets are the best material for that because they last long and don’t smell. Also, they can absorb a greater amount of fluids and they won’t stick to the animal.


What should the household members prepare for if they’re planning to get a rabbit?

A rabbit is nocturnal, so you need to think about the fact that it might wake you up at half past four in the morning. It’s also good to be ready for the fact that it’s a playful creature and you need to spend time with it.


What daily regime should new owners prepare for?

It’s definitely not possible to go for a holiday for a week and leave the rabbit at home alone. It is about everyday care and the living creature which needs regular feeding and continuous access to water and hay.


What should I do if I already have one rabbit at home?

We need to think about whether our pet wants a new friend or not. It mainly depends on the gender; the best couple is a castrated male and a female. Two rabbits of the same gender can hardly ever get on well. If you have a male and you want to get a female, it’s important to castrate the male several months before the new pet arrives because a rabbit is fertile a long time after it. However, the coexistence of the two pets always depends on the nature of each animal and nobody can ever guarantee whether two seemingly compatible individuals can live together.


And what should we do if a rabbit starts behaving aggressively?

We need to think about the cause. It happens to many rabbits in their puberty, so from about five months to one year of age. Some animals do that to naturally protect their territory and they don’t like if anyone touches anything in their cage or their bowl. In such case, castration might but doesn’t have to help. However, smaller amounts of hormones might calm the rabbit a lot.


What toys should we get for a rabbit?

Natural and healthy toys made of hay and wood are very popular. Also, a ball that can be filled with treats that get out when it’s moving is a great idea.

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