Spring has hopped into our lives again and how wonderful that feels. With Easter just around the corner it brings to mind the welfare of our rabbits and as a veterinary practice and as owners we want to continue to do the best we can for their welfare.
Rabbits need space to be able to stand up right on their hind legs and to have space to move around adequately . We have in the past discussed that most cages that are available on the market are too small and for this reason many owners are becoming extremely creative.
Using a shed and installing a cat flap allowing the rabbits the freedom to enter the garden when they wish is a very cost effective way of providing a very good size shelter. Being able to set the cat flap to lock closed at certain times like we do for our cats gives us the peace of mind that they are secure if we arrive home later in the evening. Some people also install plastic piping underground from their rabbits’ shelter area to other areas around the garden and even into the house. Obviously this involves more work and can cost more to organize. The environment provided may have to be re thought depending on the rabbit’s character.
Karoline’s bunnies are forever escaping. They love to dig huge tunnels so for this reason it would not be practical to give them free run of the garden when no one is there to supervise. So the project that Karoline is starting this year is a walk-in enclosure with a built in trench which will be filled with soil. This gives the rabbits the freedom to behave naturally while keeping them safe when unattended. We will let you see the finished product in the summer.
As well as providing the correct space and living condition for rabbits we need to be providing stimulation for them ensuring their minds are kept active for their mental well-being.
Karoline also recently attended a farm park with her son and was very impressed with the facilities that were made available for rabbits and guinea pigs. New ideas where brought away which we would like to share with you.
Giving fresh hay for their diets is better provided off the ground so it does not get contaminated with urine and faeces. At the farm they hung plastic storage baskets from the ceiling. The rabbits could pull the hay through the holes which they appeared to have great fun at doing as it was a challenge to reach the basket. Half curved wire plant baskets had also been screwed to the walls to provide hay, which keeps it clean and dry.Tunnels had been provided from the inner tubing of carpets. Smaller tubes had hay and dandilion leaves inside them, which provided great entertainment , along with footballs and toys that are available for smaller dogs. Feeding puzzles can be used to give dry food which stimulates them more than just being fed from a bowl.
More information can be found on the Rabbit Welfare Assiociation and Fund (RWAF) regarding the care we can provide for our rabbits and the importance of keeping them in pairs for company. https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/