Having been in lockdown, and with schools closed for almost ten weeks, there has been a surge in parents getting rabbits for their children. The general docile nature of rabbits makes it seem like they can be looked after by young children with minimal supervision. However, there are many things to consider before welcoming a rabbit to the family as their care can be more complex than imagined.
Rabbits require as much attention as any other pet, including a healthy diet, regular handling, routine monitoring, social interaction, and medical care from veterinary surgeons. They are highly social animals that crave contact and interaction with their human guardians. Rabbits are much happier living in pairs and will become very lonely if kept on their own.
Whether you are a new rabbit owner or have had your beloved pet for many years, there are several steps you can take to ensure they are protected in the current environment.
Veterinary care for your rabbit
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) have advised veterinary practices to change how they work, and many routine procedures are being delayed. This is to conserve essential supplies, protect the health of veterinary staff and our clients, and to avoid further spread of COVID-19.
If your rabbit has not had their vaccinations yet, they will be at higher risk of developing diseases. Please speak to your vet about how you can get care for your pet.
Here are some actions you can take to look after your rabbit during this period:
- As the weather gets warmer, the number of biting insects in your local area may increase. Keep your rabbit safe from fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and midges because biting insects are the primary vector of both Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD1 and 2) which can be fatal for your pet. Fly screens on windows can help protect indoor rabbits, and speak to a vet about flea prevention products.
- Look out for flystrike during the hot summer months. Flystrike is caused by flies that are attracted to damp fur, urine, faeces, and the odour of the rabbit’s scent. The flies will land on the rabbit, typically around the rabbit’s rear end and lay eggs. Flystrike can happen very quickly, so it is essential to check your rabbit's bottom twice a day for any urine residue or faeces and clean these away.
- Practice good hygiene. When you interact with your rabbits, thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling them or any of their food and toys. There is currently no evidence that rabbits can spread COVID-19 to or from humans.
- Since you are spending more time at home, it might be tempting to give your rabbits' a variety of foods but to minimise the danger of gut problems, do not make substantial changes to their diets. If you are self-isolating, you might not be able to get your usual supplies but try to ensure that you maintain normal diets where possible. Good hay remains the mainstay of a healthy rabbit diet.
- If your rabbit is housed with other rabbits, and they are not neutered yet, discuss the best options with your vet. It is advised to spay all female rabbits to prevent reproductive tract cancers.
- Monitor the claws of your rabbit. Keep them trim, to avoid them catching and breaking them. If you do not have the necessary tools, contact your vet for guidance.
Finally, make the best of this period by spending some quality time with your rabbit. Should you require any specific advice for your rabbit during this period, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We are now able to offer rabbit vaccines, so please get in touch if you would like to book.