Responsible rabbit ownership
If you have a pet rabbit, or are thinking of purchasing a rabbit, it is important to consider the responsibilities that come along with it. Speak to your local veterinarian and other rabbit owners to gather as much information as you can. Rabbits can live up to 14 years, so they are a long-term commitment.
It is extremely important to ensure your pet rabbit is vaccinated against Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (previously known as Rabbit Calicivirus) from four weeks of age and then every six months to maintain immunity throughout their life. The virus was introduced in Australia to help control the wild rabbit population which are considered pests and detrimental to Australia’s native fauna.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus can be spread easily from infected rabbits in droppings, urine, body secretions and mating, as well as via contaminated objects such as food and cages. It can also be spread through insects, especially flies, birds and rodents.
Pet rabbits can be housed in outdoors hutches or indoor cages. Whichever option you prefer, always ensure your pet is sheltered from extreme weather conditions and predators, and has a quiet sanctuary to rest.
Rabbits are susceptible to heat stress so wooden hutches are preferable to metal ones which become hot in summer.
Placing mosquito netting around your rabbit’s home will also protect it from flies, mosquitoes and associated diseases.
Regardless of whether rabbits are indoor or outdoor pets, they should never be completely confined to a cage. Exercise such as running and jumping is vital for good health.
If you are not planning to breed from your pet, desexing is recommended. It ensures a calm temperament and reduces the likelihood of some serious diseases.
Male and female rabbits are usually desexed from 4-6 months of age. The main reason for desexing female rabbits is the prevention of uterine cancer. Up to 80% of female rabbits develop uterine cancer if not desexed.
Always speak to your vet for advice on keeping your pets healthy, safe and protected.