As a nation of animal lovers, we have been keeping our favourite dogs, cats, pigs, and even goats as pets for between 9,000 and 15,000 years. Domesticating these once wild animals into our daily lives has given us centuries of pleasure. Rabbits though were a little more stubborn. We have had these balls of fluff as pets for 'only’ 1400 years.
In Europe at that time, wild rabbits could only be found in southern France and on the Iberian Peninsula. They became domesticated to provide a source of food. The Catholic Church at the time declared that meat from young rabbits, called kittens or kits, was a type of fish. Yes, you read that right, fish! This strange piece of food categorisation meant that it could be eaten during Lent. Fast forward to today and rabbits are no longer fish but are a very popular pet and as such, needed to be looked after properly.
Top Tips to Keep Your Rabbits Safe
As we wave goodbye to winter and say hello to spring, it’s time to look at how we care for our furry friends as the weather warms up.
If your rabbit lives in a hutch with a rabbit run or a rabbit house, then the warmer weather brings its own problems with it. As the temperature rises, flies appear in much greater numbers. While most are harmless, some like the bottle fly, lay eggs in the rabbit’s fur.
These insects are attracted to damp or soiled fur, which often occurs around the rabbits’ hindquarters, so it’s important to keep your rabbits and their living spaces clean and dry. If left alone, the eggs they lay hatch into maggots, which then burrow into the rabbit’s skin. This is often fatal.
Unless you have a house rabbit, chances are your rabbit lives in a hutch outside in the garden. This means that it will be exposed to a whole world of hazards. You don’t have to live in the countryside to find those animals that prey on rabbits.
Foxes are as common in the city now, as they are in rural areas. If your hutch isn’t fox-proof then you might need to think about making it more secure. Hutches are often made from lightweight wood with an exposed front. This isn’t going to be a problem for a fox with an empty stomach and some sharp claws. Get yourself a wooden hutch with 3mm fox proof wire, which is more secure and easier to clean.
As Spring brings some delights to the garden and we begin to turn our attention to Easter, rabbits and chocolate become synonymous with the season. If you’re tempted to give your rabbit some chocolate, then don’t! They may like the sweetness, but it is deadly for them, as it is for many household pets.
Chocolate contains caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, which rabbits can’t breakdown biologically. As such it builds up in their blood and once it reaches a level, it will make their organs begin to fail. Stick to eating the chocolate yourself, unless you’re a rabbit too!
Many households will take the advent of Springtime as the opportunity to get into the garden and get it ready for the summer. Out will come the slug pellets, fertilisers, herbicides, and weed killer to revitalise your outdoor space. But if you have rabbits, these can be toxic to them.
Before you spread these chemicals around the garden, pay attention to the areas that the rabbits utilise. If you have a rabbit run, then think about where you’re going to place it and avoid putting garden chemicals there.
Also, while grass and hay are an important part of their diet, grass cuttings aren’t good for rabbits. The heat from the lawnmower can start a fermentation process in the grass, which continues once they eat it. It’s much better for them to eat grass that’s still growing. If you have enough rabbits, they could be a natural lawnmower for you!
Rabbits are relatively low maintenance and a healthy rabbit can live for many, many years. They can be a great companion and a loving pet. So, as winter arrives, take some time to give your rabbit a spring clean that will keep them going for many years to come.
Here at Eggshell Online, we provide the nation with high-quality, long-lasting rabbit hutches. So, if you’d like to find out more about how we can help you, get in touch today on 01903 756121.