Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Choosing the Right Food for Your Pet Rabbit

By: Andrew Massaro

Providing a nutritious diet is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to ensure a long, happy life for your pet rabbit. Rabbits' dietary needs are fairly simple, and keeping them well-fed doesn't require spending a lot of money on exotic feeds or nutritional supplement. It does require some attention to your rabbit's physical condition and making adjustments throughout their various life stages. Here we'll offer a simple guide to rabbit nutrition.

There are three basic components to a healthy rabbit diet: hay, fresh vegetables, and pellets. Of these three, hay is by far the most important, so we'll begin there. Hay most closely approximates the rabbit's natural diet of grass, and is the best possible source of long-strand fiber. As in humans, fiber promotes digestive health by pushing softer material through the tract, and stimulating the muscles of the colon. Unlike humans, rabbits are at risk of death if their diets lack fiber. Rabbits groom themselves in the same manner as cats- by licking- but unlike cats, they are unable to regurgitate hairballs. This means that there's only one way for those big clumps of hair to get out of the stomach- through the excretory system. A high-fiber diet will keep hairballs moving along, but if this does not occur, the digestive tract will become blocked, and the rabbit will starve to death. Thus, hay is essential, and should provide the bulk of your rabbit's diet. Several varieties are commonly offered as rabbit feed, with somewhat different nutritional qualities.

One of the most common is alfalfa, which is a fairly rich legume hay. Although it is ideal for young (ie, not yet full-grown) rabbits, or those that are pregnant or nursing, alfalfa has a bit too high of protein content to be appropriate for mature rabbits. Mature rabbits can get a bit of alfalfa mixed in with a less rich hay. Timothy grass hay is one such staple, with very good fiber content, low protein to prevent obesity, and also a low calcium content. This last part is important, as overconsumption of calcium can lead to urinary tract problems. Timothy hay can be fed free choice- in other words, put in as much of it as you like. There should be a constant supply of Timothy hay, or another free choice hay such as Orchard grass or Brome hay, available to your rabbit at all times.

For a full complement of vitamins and nutrients, you'll also want to offer fresh vegetables. In the wild, rabbits have a wide range of plant matter to forage from, and you'll want to simulate this broad-based diet with your selection of vegetables. Look for dark green leafy material- colorful, as a rule, means nutritious. Romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, beet tops, and similar greens are good choices, while iceberg lettuce is pretty much just water and cellulose, and isn't worth feeding. Carrots, of course, are good, but root vegetables like potatoes or beets are to be avoided. Also importantly, you'll want to include at least one veggie with a plentiful supply of Vitamin A. This includes carrots, beet tops, parsley, endive, and collard greens. You can also offer kale, mustard greens, or spinach, but be conservative with these, as they contain compounds that can be toxic in high quantities. Veggies to avoid entirely include any kind of bean, potatoes or beets (not including greens), rhubarb, nuts, peas, onions, and corn.

As always, changes to the rabbit's diet should be introduced slowly and the rabbit should be monitored carefully for changes in digestive functioning. Try to keep about three different veggies in your rabbit's diet at a time, and rotate new ones in every so often. If the rabbit's weight remains stable, and it doesn't seem to be suffering from soft stools, gasiness, or any other digestive problems, keep doing what you're doing. In terms of quantity, a good rule of thumb for mature rabbits is 2 cups of vegetables per day for every 6 pounds of rabbit.

Finally, rabbits should receive moderate quantities of pelleted food daily. These are dense packages of protein and energy, so remember that overindulgence is going to have consequences. You'll want to choose a food with as much fiber as possible- at least 18%. You'll also want a fairly low protein content, somewhere around 12-14%, and as little calcium as possible. A recommended intake of pellets for mature rabbits is somewhere between ¼ and ½ cups per day, per 6 pounds of rabbit. You can decrease this amount by up to 50% by offering more fresh vegetables. As always, keep an eye out for changes in weight or runny stool.

Getting your rabbit's diet just right can be a little tricky. Rabbits are creatures of habit, and very fussy- some have been known to starve themselves to death rather than accept food that did not suit them. If the rabbit refuses to eat something in its diet, you can try reducing the available amount of other foods, but don't turn this into a test of wills, as it may become a fight to the death. You can also try hiding or mixing treats in with the unwanted food item, and hope that the rabbit begins to associate the yummy treat with the “health food”, but of course treats should only be offered in very small quantities. Don't be afraid to experiment and be creative, especially when choosing vegetables, as there are a wide variety of possible choices. Just remember to introduce any changes to your rabbit's diet gradually, always monitor its conditions, and keep an abundant supply of hay available. With these guidelines in mind, you should have healthy, happy rabbits for years to come.
About the Author
When deciding on how to house your pet rabbit you have two choices: either quality Rabbit Cages or durable Rabbit Hutches, whichever you choose make sure they are made with durable quality materials to stand the test of time.

The Different Kinds Of Rabbit Care And Tips

By: June Sabe

Pets complete a home for single people and families. Children often desire pets more than adults do as they think animals are cute and fun to have. Adults of course know the work required. Like any pet, rabbits need care. They need to go to the vet, get feed daily, and have their domain cleaned. When you decide to purchase a rabbit, you will need to know exactly what is required of you.

Before we get into your rabbits needs, you will want to know a few of the species available. Most common are cottontails, dwarf, and lop eared rabbits for pets. The dwarf rabbit is small and best kept indoors, while the cottontails are not as sensitive to the weather and can be housed outside in moderate climates. The lop eared rabbits like the cottontails grow to be a good size and have long floppy ears. The type of rabbit you wish to have for a pet will in part decide on the care.

First like cats and dogs, rabbits require shots from the vet to keep them in good health. People carry diseases that can harm animals if we do not wash before and after we handle our pet. Rabbits can be susceptible to worms and other dietary parasites so it is important to take your rabbit for its vet visit when needed. Speak with a vet about your rabbit's care and any questions you may have before you complete your purchase.

Rabbits eat pellets, hay and vegetables. Most rabbits like to munch on carrots or lettuce. You want to feed your rabbit everyday to ensure they are receiving the proper amount of food. Unlike cats that eat when they are hungry, a rabbit can over eat and become over weight. Some commercial feeds for rabbits contain nuts; however, these are typically not good as they are high in fiber. You can feed your rabbit fruit as a treat, but you should not do so daily.

Housing for a rabbit can be in your home or if you wish to keep them outside a wooden cage will work. Most outside cages are designed to let the waste fall through so they are not sitting on it or laying on it. The cage should be built large enough to house an adult rabbit with bedding spread out to make a nice little home. They should be given plenty of water and have it changed out daily. Having a backyard for your pet rabbit is a great idea. They can roam for a little exercise, which all pets need.

You will want to clean their cages out at least once a week or more depending on how messy or smelly it becomes. Your rabbit needs a clean environment just like you to eliminate the possibilities of disease. An important factor in having a long living rabbit is their environment. Most rabbits live 5 to 10 years.

Rabbits with their fuzzy cottontails or floppy ears are just some of the cutest pets you can own. They are a medium maintenance pet with proper feeding and environment care you can have your rabbit for years. Your children will enjoy showing off their pet rabbit to all their friends and beg you to take him to show and tell. Pets are needed to complete a family and provide enjoyment for everyone.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Caring for a Rabbit

Outdoor Rabbit Hutch - 10 Tips You Need to Know When Purchasing a Rabbit Hutch

By Bella Thomas

When purchasing a outdoor rabbit hutch, here are some tips to take into consideration.

1. One thing that will help you make your decision about buying a hutch or a rabbit cage is by surfing the internet. You can get a pretty good idea about what is best for you and your bunny. You will be able to find outdoor rabbit hutch prices and find the one you need.

2. When buying your outdoor rabbit hutch you need to make sure it has a wire mesh floor. This will make it easier for cleaning. You also need to check and see if the hutch has a solid floor, this will give your rabbit a good place to sleep.

3. A outdoor rabbit hutch will provide a lot of room for your pet while making it easier on you to take care of it. Your hutch should be at least 4 times bigger than your bunny rabbit. Also you need to make sure that the rabbit hutch comes withe the basics like a feeder and a water bottle. Also an outdoor rabbit hutch should have plenty of room for your bunny rabbit to hop around.

4. An important part of buying a outdoor rabbit hutch the size of the cage. It is recommended by experts that you purchase the largest hutch you can afford. For smaller breeds of rabbit, bunnies that weigh 8 lbs the cage should be at least 24 inches by 36 inches.

5. Also it is good to find a outdoor rabbit hutch with two levels. You can add a rabbit run to the lower level so your rabbit will have room to run.

6. It is a lot better for your rabbit to live in a hutch than inside your home. There are a lot of different sizes to choose from and your rabbit will love you for it and so will your spouse.

7. One thing that you can do to your outdoor hutch is to put wheels on it so you can move it around easily. Another idea is to buy a rabbit hutch that is high off the ground so you can put storage supplies underneath it.

8. Your hutch should have a tray that is easy to remove for their droppings. Be sure that the hole to your rabbits sleeping area is large enough for your rabbit. You also want to purchase a hutch with a covered top to protect your animal from wind and rain.

9. It is really important to keep your outdoor hutch off the ground so wild predators won't get to your rabbit. Having it raised gives you access to the hutch without bending over thus making it easier for feeding and cleaning.

10. Security is also very important. Rabbits are prey for predators, whose survival depends on their natural born instincts to run from predators. The fear and anxiety can be so strong that they can die from the stress of the ordeal.

When it comes to the health and happiness of your pet rabbit, choosing a quality living environment is very important. When deciding on a Outdoor Rabbit Hutch, the quality of the dwelling will determine how it will work out for your furry little friend.

Bella Thomas has been involved with animals in one way or another since she was a little girl. She knows a lot about rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles. She lives in Sunny Pensacola, Florida with 2 dogs, a horse, 3 rabbits, and 1 cat.