Rabbit Care

Rabbit Care

Rabbits can make wonderful pets, but do have some very specific needs. They are happiest if they have a companion rabbit as they are social animals. They are very inquisitive, and love to dig and chew. Particular care should be taken to prevent a rabbit being left unsupervised out of their hutch, especially around electrical equipment. The average life span of a rabbit is 5-8 years. Rabbits can be kept as solely indoor animals, and can be toilet trained, or they can be kept outside either in a hutch or free-ranging, or a combination of the two. Rabbits enjoy being kept busy and playing, and with some gentle perseverance can even be trained to do tricks!

Pet rabbits should be handled every day from a young age. Long haired rabbits should be groomed regularly and all rabbits should be checked to ensure their bottoms and feet are clean from faeces.

Rabbits pass two different types of stools, overnight they pass large soft stools which they then eat – this is normal and healthy for them to do so! During the day they should be frequently passing tiny little dry balls of faeces. If your rabbit stops defecating or eating for several hours this may be a sign they are sick, and should be checked at the clinic.

The most common cause of rabbit disease and illness is inappropriate diet which is often too low in fibre and too high in sugars and fats. Poor diet can lead to dental disease and unhealthy guts – both of which can be potentially life threatening for rabbits. Both food and water should always be fresh, and dishes cleaned daily. Sudden changes of diet should always be avoided since this can cause problems with digestion.

Consider what a rabbit eats in the wild – we recommend a high fibre diet that is rich in good quality hay, some fresh vegetables and a very small amount of pellets (consider pellets to be a like treat or a vitamin supplement).


HAY: We recommend at least 75% of your rabbit’s diet be a high quality grass hay (such as Ox Bow Premium Timothy Hay). Other types of hay such as lucerne or clover are unsuitable for rabbits due to their high calcium contents, which may predispose to urinary problems, as well as being too high in protein, which can discourage the rabbit from eating their cecotrophs (the soft night time faeces) which are an important part of healthy digestion.

GREENS: We recommend that 15% of your rabbit’s diet be a mix of fresh green vegetables such as endive, spinach, alfalfa sprouts or box choi. Stick to two or three types rather than a large variety so not to upset their sensitive digestive tracts.  Fruits or sweet vegetables such as strawberry, banana, apple & carrot should be considered as “treats” and given only once or twice per week.

PELLETS: Only 5% of your rabbit’s diet should supplied as a high energy mix. We recommend a premium pelleted food (such as Ox Bow) as this eliminates selective feeding on high fat seeds and molasses coated chaff such as can occur in mixed grain feeds.


Rabbits require a minimum of 100-150 ml of water per kilogram body weight per day, and more water should obviously be provided on hot days.

Please speak to our staff for more advice on the ideal balanced rabbit diet.

All rabbits should be vaccinated against Calicivirus (RCD) from twelve weeks of age.

There is currently no vaccination available for Myxomatosis in Australia.

Control biting insects, specifically mosquitoes (which spread Myxomatosis), by using netting at dusk & dawn, citronella candles and eliminating stagnant water as they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Alternatively, keep your rabbit housed indoors. For further information please see our Vaccination page.

Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits should never be fasted before surgery. If your rabbit is coming into the hospital for the day please bring a small supply of their regular diet including fresh vegetables and if possible please include fresh parsley as it’s great for rabbits digestive tract.

If you rabbit has a companion please talk to us about their friend accompanying them into the hospital too – it can help to reduce stress significantly.

Neutering/Desexing: It is strongly recommended that you have your rabbit desexed. This should be done when your rabbit is approximately 6mths of age.


  • Female rabbits have a very high incidence of uterine cancer, up to 80% of un-desexed female rabbits will be affected by age 5 – 6 years. Speying your female rabbit removes the uterus thus prevents this inevitably fatal disease.
  • Male rabbits can be territorial. Having your male rabbit castrated will prevent many behavioural problems.
  • This will also prevent unwanted pregnancies!


For further information please see our Desexing page or call and speak with our staff.