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Thread: First time rabbit owner

  1. #1
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    Default First time rabbit owner

    Hello.
    I am buying 2 8wk old (unrelated, m/f) Norwegian Dwarf rabbits for my 8yo twins.

    I am doing so much research as I want my twins to take their role seriously and treat the animals with respect and care. I am wondering how I go about introducing the rabbits to each other, to give us the best chance of them bonding.

    I am about to have the following hutch delivered...
    http://www.therabbithutchcompany.co....bit-hutch.html

    Any advice, however obvious, would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Alpha Buck binkyCodie's Avatar
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    hello

    unfortunately to start with, that hutch is far too small for any rabbit to be locked in for any period of time. it would either need a 8ft run (minimal imho since the hutch is 4ft to begin with)attached to it with permanent access at all times, or it would need to just be scrapped. a much better option is a shed, or at least a 6ft wide hutch (with a run attached) to live in. rabbits are animals that need space to move, they are not "small" in that sense. I wouldn't feel comfortable housing a rabbit in that hutch, unless it was used as a base with 24/7 access to a room (if indoor) or a large run.

    usually rabbits are recommend to have a 6ft (long) x 2ft (wide) and 2ft (high; per level) https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-h...ch-not-enough/

    the hutch is also chicken wire, which isn't very sturdy at all. foxes have been known to break in, I've heard the rabbits destroying it themselves. you'll need to upgrade it to some stronger welded mesh.

    your best bet for bonding would be getting both neutered when they are of age, probably 4 months or so when the testicles show. after that you must wait 8 weeks to allow hormones to settle. after that, you can begin the bonding process. you can not just put them together, and they must be neutered.

    having a rabbit neutered removes so many "annoying" behaviours such as spraying, humping, aggression. it makes them an overall nicer rabbit and then they're not a slave to their hormones. finding a rabbit savvy vet is crucial, as many will give out wrong advice. rabbits should not be starved before surgery, should have metacam (pain relief) after for a few days, a post op check within a week, and shouldn't be given a cone unless deemed necessary. having anything around a rabbits neck is highly stressful for them, they hate it.

    once that is out of the way, I personally swap cages every day so one cage doesn't become theres, and they can smell the other rabbit. having them side by side is a very good idea.

    you will need to bond in a small, yet neutral space, where neither of them have been. you can't bond them in the whole of the kitchen, too much space will cause fights. I used their carrier to bond in to begin with as its a small space, I can intervene if they're fighting but they also have to interact. once they would sit in the cage together with no issues for 20 minutes, I went to a bigger space of a 60cm x 60cm pen. after this they lived together and every week I'd give them more space, now they share a hutch and pen combo.

    another thing, please please get them vaccinated for RHD1, RHD2 and myxi. they're deadly diseases and while no vaccine is foolproof, it gives more of a chance of surviving on the small chance they can catch the virus.

    if a bunny stops eating for a few hours - vet ASAP. this is usually known as GI stasis, its worth a read up on. it will kill a rabbit within 48 hours if not treated.

    its also worth having a bunny medical kit at home, I'd always recommend gauze, pet safe antiseptic, critical care, syringes and pro-c probiotic (found at P@H). the gauze and antiseptic came in handy when my bunny hurt herself, and I needed something to secure and wipe the wound in between the time it took to go to the vet.

    rabbits can also be litter trained, which is handy for cleaning out. I'll link some links below for you to read up on

    diet is very important too, please do not feed any treats with corn or milk or unnatural sugars in. these are not good for bunnies, its best to find more natural treats such as cranberries or dried forage etc. basically, if its made artificially with no natural ingredients, avoid.

    rabbits without a correct diet often then suffer from dental disease, where their back teeth overgrow and begin to cut into the tongue & mouth. this will need to be treated under a general anaesthetic via a rabbit savvy vet. a rabbits diet should be 80% hay, its incredibly important. a lot of people here buy their hay from https://www.timothyhay.co.uk or https://www.hay-and-straw.co.uk

    good quality pellet is important too, DO NOT feed muesli of any type. the rabbit will pick out what they like and not have a balanced diet which is incredibly important. I'd also say avoid any with fancy colors in as these colorants are not any use to the rabbit and are just made to draw an owner in, to look fancy. Burgess Excel & Science Selective are the top pellet brands, ticking all the boxes for nutritional value and are good for your rabbit. I'd recommend feeding those. you should get some food from the breeder, so its best to slowly phase out the old with new once they have been in your care for a few days.

    usually its recommend 1 table spoon of pellet per KG of weight. bunnies under 6 months require junior pellet to give them more nutrients and calories to help them grow. usually I use what the average adult weight will be, and feed them that. so I'd suggest perhaps 1 & 1/2 tablespoons for a netherland dwarf.

    veggies can be given too, make sure to check of they're safe and introduce them slowly. once being introduced slowly they can be given them daily, a ball about the size of their head will do. make sure to shake it up and offer variety and not 1 type for weeks on end. https://www.saveafluff.co.uk/rabbit-...ds-for-rabbits

    I think that's mostly all I have to cover, here are some links & sites that contain good information.

    https://rabbit.org/faq-litter-training-2/ : information on litter training
    http://myhouserabbit.com/rabbit-care...ur-pet-rabbit/ : information on litter training

    https://rabbit.org/faq-spaying-and-neutering/ : information on spaying and neutering
    https://www.vets4pets.com/pet-health...g-your-rabbit/ : information on spaying and neutering
    https://www.saveafluff.co.uk/rabbit-...paying-rabbits : information on spaying and neutering

    https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-c...ndly-vet-list/ : rabbit friendly vet list

    http://myhouserabbit.com
    https://rabbit.org
    https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk
    https://www.saveafluff.co.uk
    http://www.therabbithouse.com
    Snoopy : 14.02.15 - 12.05.17 [mini rex]👑Luna : 14.02.15 [rex]👑Orion : 21.10.17 [mini rex]

  3. #3
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    Hi and thank you for such a comprehensive reply.
    I thought that, being dwarf rabbits, this size hutch would be ok? Am I wrong? The plan is to attach it to an extended run.

    The hutch says the wire is "1mm gauge heavy duty wire". Is that no good either? Here was me thinking I was spending a bit more for a good quality one!
    Jo

  4. #4
    Mama Doe Graciee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josie21 View Post
    Hi and thank you for such a comprehensive reply.
    I thought that, being dwarf rabbits, this size hutch would be ok? Am I wrong? The plan is to attach it to an extended run.

    The hutch says the wire is "1mm gauge heavy duty wire". Is that no good either? Here was me thinking I was spending a bit more for a good quality one!
    Jo
    That hutch is very small unfortunately, not your fault, most on the market are seriously tiny.

    Codie has given you lots of great advice, I think the minimum hutch space is 6ft long by 2ft high - with a permanently attached run that's minimum of 6ft by 8ft.

    Personally I wouldn't go for that hutch you linked, could you get a shed for them? Or a bigger hutch with attached run? Be aware that lots of runs on the market aren't very secure and lots are far smaller than the minimum space requirements.

    Introducing rabbits is difficult they can be very violent, if they aren't housed together when you get them, I'd house them separately until 6 weeks after they've been spayed/neutered then find someone who bonds bunnies - you can do it yourself but depending on the rabbits if it goes wrong the injuries are scary to say the least. Also from about 16 weeks old they'd need to be separated anyway to prevent unwanted litters so it's probably best to wait til after the spay/neuter to introduce them

    Sorry if this is all a tad overwhelming haha I've been there too, rabbits are seriously misrepresented generally, which makes finding suitable living enclosures and even just buying food and treats in shops a nightmare...



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    Last edited by Graciee; 11-06-2018 at 01:23 PM.

  5. #5
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    Well, I've cancelled my order for that hutch!
    We are going to use a hutch my husband built years ago which is a 3 storey, 10ft long, 4ft high, 2ft deep hutch. It is split into 6 compartments, 3 either side of a "staircase", all of which can be closed or opened to the full area. He is attaching a run for them to have access to a running area.

  6. #6
    Mama Doe Graciee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josie21 View Post
    Well, I've cancelled my order for that hutch!
    We are going to use a hutch my husband built years ago which is a 3 storey, 10ft long, 4ft high, 2ft deep hutch. It is split into 6 compartments, 3 either side of a "staircase", all of which can be closed or opened to the full area. He is attaching a run for them to have access to a running area.
    That sounds a lot better x

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  7. #7
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    Phew.
    It's so bad. When I rang the hutch company, they said yes that's suitable for 1 normal sized rabbit.

  8. #8
    Mama Doe Graciee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josie21 View Post
    Phew.
    It's so bad. When I rang the hutch company, they said yes that's suitable for 1 normal sized rabbit.


    Yeaaa it's not good is it! Haha x

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  9. #9
    Alpha Buck binkyCodie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josie21 View Post
    Well, I've cancelled my order for that hutch!
    We are going to use a hutch my husband built years ago which is a 3 storey, 10ft long, 4ft high, 2ft deep hutch. It is split into 6 compartments, 3 either side of a "staircase", all of which can be closed or opened to the full area. He is attaching a run for them to have access to a running area.
    that is much better!

    sorry, I misread and thought you had two boys lol. as you have male female they will need to be fixed before they can go anywhere near one another. please don't have them both unfixed and do some introduction sessions as rabbits mating is quick and you could end up with babies. females are also heavily prone to uterine cancer and very stroppy without being spayed. females can be spayed from 4-6 months.

    a male is fertile for up to 8 weeks after being neutered, so you'll need to keep him away for a while.

    in actual fact, smaller rabbit doesn't = smaller space, not at all. usually the smaller ones are the more hyper ones, and the bigger ones are the lazier ones lol. they all have the same minimum requirements of 6ft x 2ft with a 6ft x 8ft run attached. my friends nethie is a total strop monster, zooms everywhere, jumps fences, will run around the entire garden the entire time. I let mine out and they only care for the fact the grass is a buffet

    you can use smaller hutches in the case of it being a base for inside a room or inside a shed. but something like that isnt big enough for everyday use as in, it being their home base permanently.

    there is a lot of misinformation on the web..and people don't know what they are talking about. not saying all companies are the same, because they are not, but they do not have animal welfare at the center, they have pound signs. all they see is money and ways to make money, even if that includes talking trash and misleading of what is big enough. if they did truly have the animals welfare at heart, they wouldn't be selling such things in the first place!!

    sorry for bombarding you with such info also, I just wanted to throw everything out there and I wasn't sure of how much you knew.
    Snoopy : 14.02.15 - 12.05.17 [mini rex]👑Luna : 14.02.15 [rex]👑Orion : 21.10.17 [mini rex]

  10. #10

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    Hello and welcome to the forum,
    You could save yourself the stress [and cost] of having to get your buns neutered and then going through the bonding process (which can be problematic for even the most experienced of rabbit carers) and get a bonded pair from a rescue centre instead such as the RSPCA.
    They will also make sure that the rabbits have been vaccinated too. Rescues have a variety of age and breed of rabbit, so you're bound to find a pair that you like, including baby rabbits.

    Here's a link to bonding advice:http://www.manchesterandsalfordrspca...iderevised.pdf

    Good luck

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