A rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality pellets, fresh hay (timothy, other grass hays, or oat hay), water, and fresh vegetables. Anything beyond that is a “treat” and should be given in limited quantities.
When shopping for vegetables, look for a selection of different veggies–look for both dark leafy veggies. Stay away from beans and rhubarb. Here’s a suggested veggie list.
Fresh woodcuts from the right kind of tree would be without risk for rabbits pets.
Safe Woods for Rabbits are:
- apple (seeds are toxic)1
- apricot (only when dried for at least one month)
- bamboo cane
- carrot (no seeds)
- chicory (wild)
- clover (red and white)
- coconut shell
- common comfrey (dried)
- lemon balm
- maple (sugar and silver)
- mint (do not give to pregnant or nursing does)
- mulberry (white)
- peach (only when dried for at least one month)
- pear (no seeds)
- pine - kiln-dried white only
- Queen Anne's Lace
- redroot pigweed
- rose (any above-ground parts including hips)
- shepherd's purse
- sow thistle (annual, spiny annual, perennial)
- stinging nettle (dried)
- sweet potato
If you cut the healthy twigs fresh from the tree the wood is tasty for your bunnies and you have no worries about fouling or similar things. Additionally, it gives important vitamins and such for your rabbits.
You could give them the leaves too. They will like the variety of their other greens. My rabbits like to peel the skin of and bite the twigs into small parts and after all, they let me bigger match-like parts.
One of the first things you need to do after adopting your new rabbit is located a rabbit-savvy vet. Normally, you will have to find an “exotic veterinary” office to locate a vet who has any experience with rabbits. A small amount of research on the Internet should be done to locate a rabbit vet in your area. If there aren’t any in your area, you will need to find a vet who is willing to learn and help you keep your rabbit as healthy as possible. A vet like this will be willing to find an exotic vet to consult with if needed. Rabbits have unique physiology and medical and treatment needs and react very distinctively to anesthesia, surgery, and pain medications. For these reasons, I would reserve surgeries, unless it is an emergency, to a
specialized rabbit-savvy vet, even if you have to drive a long way to get to them. Your local vet will
usually be willing to handle the aftercare with the help of the specialist.
The eventual aim would be to convert this rabbit to a diet based on ad libitum provision of good quality hay, access to grass and fresh weeds, a daily serving of mixed fresh greens and a very limited amount of high-fibre homogeneous extruded nuggets or pellets. Mixed rations (muesli-type mixes) have been demonstrated to lead directly to obesity in rabbits when fed without ad libitum hay, as well as being associated with dental disease, reduced gastrointestinal motility and behavioural changes.
It is important, however, to realize that weight loss must be gradual (no more than 1–2% of body weight weekly) and great care should be taken from the outset to prevent periods of anorexia (e.g. by offering an unfamiliar diet), as this may lead to the development of hepatic lipidosis. Any sudden change of diet must also be avoided, as this can cause serious disturbance to the intestinal microflora and dysbiosis. Owner compliance is paramount in any pet weight loss
plan, so discussions regarding the challenge ahead and setting achievable goals are important from the outset.
The first change to make is to ensure that good quality hay is offered ad libitum. The concentrate ration should be slowly reduced from the diet over a period of a
few weeks until it is eliminated completely. Mixed fresh greens can be given daily unless gastrointestinal upset occurs and the yoghurt/carob drops, table scraps and other treats should be removed from the diet. If normal body condition is achieved, it may be possible or desirable to add a very small amount of homogeneous extruded pellets back into the maintenance ration.
Most obese rabbits are largely inactive. To complement dietary changes, increasing activity levels by encouraging play time, providing environmental enrichment and/or allowing access to large outdoor runs or escape-proof gardens is a key component of any weight loss programme.
The only sure way to know if a doe is pregnant, aside from a blood test, is to palpate her belly. As the kits grow, they form
bulges along with the twin horns of the rabbit’s uterus. With a little practice, you can distinctly feel these bulges by the time the rabbit is 10 to 12 days along. Here’s how to palpate:
1. Place the doe on a flat surface in front of you with her head closest to you.
2. Secure her rump with one hand (so she can’t back up) and reach under her with your other hand, palm up.
3. The backbone line divides the abdomen into two halves and marks the inside boundary of both halves.
4. Using your fingertips on one side and the tip of your thumb on the other, you can examine, or palpate, both halves of the lower abdomen at once.
5. With enough pressure to lift the doe’s hind end partly off the table, move the tips of your fingers and thumb cautiously and gently along the length of her belly.
You are looking for grape-sized lumps, not along the center but toward both sides of the abdomen. Small, hard lumps along the centerline of the rabbit’s belly are fecal pellets lined up single file on their way out of the rabbit. A tiny tangle of soft “spaghetti” right in front of the pelvis is usually an empty uterus.
During the first week of pregnancy, it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain for sure whether or not your doe is pregnant. If
you are familiar with your doe and have gone through several litters with her already, you might be able to discern those subtle, subjective behavioral changes that indicate rising pregnancy hormone levels.
Otherwise, simply palpate at day 10 or 12 and see what you find.
The calendar is your best friend. Mark when the doe was bred
and count forward 31 days. If you don’t know that date, then careful palpation may help reveal the size of the fetuses and hence give you a ballpark idea of about when she might kindle.
• Marble-sized at day 8
• Olive- or grape-sized at day 10
• Quarter- or half-dollar-sized at day 14
• The size of a small egg at day 21
By the time the fetuses are egg-sized, it becomes harder to distinguish them from the guts. But you should be able to feel that the abdomen is unusually full. Additionally, the pregnancy is quite advanced if
you can see or feel the kicks of tiny feet from the outside of the doe’s
abdomen or flanks. If you can’t determine exactly when she’s due, it’s
safest to simply give her a nest box packed with nesting materials and
leave her alone so she can do her thing.