Rabbit Buying Guide


Thinking of getting a rabbit?

  • First, be sure that you have the commitment to take on a new pet.  Remember that a rabbit can live to 7 years or longer
  • Consider carefully the costs involved – not just purchase price but ongoing costs, including food, bedding and veterinary bills. Pet insurance is a brilliant way to help pay for any unexpected medical issues.

Basic items which will need to be purchased include:

  • A suitable safe housing with an exercise run. Many pet shops sell rabbit cages which are much too small. A hutch is not enough! Read A hutch is not enough for more details.
  • Food and water bowls
  • Hay (and lots of it!)
  • Rabbit nuggets (dried food)
  • Toys (including balls and tunnels)
  • Litter tray and litter (yes, rabbits can be trained too!)
  • Think about your lifestyle when considering a certain pet or breed.  Will you have time to interact daily with your rabbit? Rabbits are often neglected, and are not happy just sitting in a hutch at the bottom of the garden!  Think about the effect a new pet will have on any pets already living in the household.
  • Some breeders are now issuing a contract of sale.  This is in the best interests of both breeder and purchaser and encourages responsible breeding.  Be sure to read any small print and only sign once you are happy
  • Once you have purchased your new rabbit we recommend arranging a health check at the clinic.  This allows us to give your pet a thorough health check and give you the best advice possible.  Remember to bring any paperwork along to this appointment.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • Bunnies are great fun and are very sociable. They can also be very affectionate, but they are not a cuddly pet and don’t like being picked up a lot. They may scratch and bite when picked up, and if not handled correctly they can injure themselves if they fall, or are dropped. It is advisable for children under 10 to be supervised when handling them. They can live indoors or outdoors, but need to have space to exercise and play daily. If outside they must be protected against predators and bad weather.

  • As they are very sociable animals it is best for them to have a companion, whether that be another bunny or you, if you have plenty of time to spend with them. In general the best pairing for a happy environment is a spayed female with a castrated male.

  • We encourage the vaccination of all rabbits from the age of 6 weeks old. They are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. Both of these diseases are carried by insects, so even indoor rabbits living on their own are at risk of these potentially fatal diseases. They will then need to be vaccinated annually to maintain immunity.

  • We advise that both male and female bunnies should be neutered from the age of 5 months. Neutering prevents females becoming pregnant and can prevent unwanted behaviour in male and female bunnies, such as aggression. Please read our information page on neutering for more details.

  • Bunnies are constant eaters and will need a constant, unlimited supply of hay/grass. They need lots of hay/grass to keep their teeth healthy and their gut working properly. They can also have a small amount of commercial food in the form of pellets. Access to pellets should be restricted to 15 minutes in the morning and the same in the evening. Never feed museli types of dried food as bunnies will tend to pick out their favourite bits, so will not get a balanced diet. They also need some fresh green vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, green beans and carrot tops. A list of good vegetables to feed bunnies can be found on the RWAF website.

  • Insuring your bunny will give you peace of mind if they ever have an illness, accident or injury. This will ensure they are offered the best possible care without you having to worry about the cost. Please read our information page on insurance for more details.

  • Flystrike is when flies lay their eggs on the bunny and they hatch into maggots. These can mature very rapidly, eating into the flesh of the bunny. This can be fatal within 1-2 days.

    Any bunny can get flystrike, but certain factors increase the risk

    • Time of year – Flystrike is especially common during the summer, but can occur at any time of the year.
    • Bunnies who cannot keep their bottom clean because they have back pain, or are overweight.
    • Bunnies who suffer from gut upsets.
    • Bunnies who have wounds or wet fur.

    For more information on how to prevent flystrike in your rabbit, please contact the practice.

  • Bunnies love to chew and play, therefore it’s important to get them lots of toys to keep them stimulated. Bunnies also love to hide so cardboard boxes or cardboard tunnels are great and also they love to chew them. They also love willow toys.

If you have any questions or would like more advice, please contact the surgery on 01443 224666