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am looking after someone's rabbits for week, and I just realised from another thread I may be doing it wrong...

(13 Posts)
SmugColditz Wed 10-Sep-08 10:05:56

Her rabbits have a big tub of food that she says to give them, so I do, every morning, along with fresh water. What I have also been doing is putting 4 or 5 dandelion leaves in because they really go for them, and I recalled from my childhood that rabbits eat these.

NOW I have rtead the other rabbit thread, and seen that you shouldn't change a rabbit's diet - and I think I may have done this!

Is it bad to give them fruit and greens if you aren't sure if they have had these normally, or is it worse to STOP giving them if maybe they DO have them normally?

tatt Wed 10-Sep-08 10:10:58

dandelions will do them no harm, quite the opposite. They will tell you if they don't like it by having runny poo - in which case you stop and give them lots of hay. They are getting hay, I hope, as hay/grass is what rabbits need most? You should only change a rabbit's diet slowly but she'd not be a very good rabbit owner if she wasn't reading anything but dried food.

Don't give fruit as that may not be good for them if they aren't used to it. Veg in small amounts shouldn't hurt even if they don't normally have it - as long as its safe veg like brocolli and not lettuce.

tatt Wed 10-Sep-08 10:11:39

feeding not reading, I'm a dreadful typist.

SmugColditz Wed 10-Sep-08 10:16:15

Well, she didn't say anything about hay, so I've just been giving them their food. There's a big packet of straw or hay (I cannot tell difference) so when I go tomorrow I'm going to clean them out and chuck a load of whatever is in that packet in there.

tatt Wed 10-Sep-08 10:30:07

in that case its just as well you fed them dandelions.

There should be something in their sleeping area - they have probably eaten their bedding as rabbits often do that so cleaning them out and replacing anything that is left would be useful. Straw would be more yellowy and hay would have green bits in it.

If you have anything like outer leaves from a cauliflower, ends of cucuber or broccoli stalk they would probably enjoy those too. Also apple leaves, and any bits of celery you don't eat (with stringy bits removed and chopped into pieces). They would also enjoy some handfuls of long grass if there is any around.

beautifulgirls Wed 10-Sep-08 11:30:02

Hay is basically dried grass and will be a green/yellow/brown type of colour, straw is thicker stalks of yellowy/brown wheat/oats/barley etc. Very important that rabbits have plenty of good quality hay available.

whispywhisp Thu 11-Sep-08 11:49:41

My vet once told me that a rabbit can live quite happily and healthily on a diet of just hay! Rabbits MUST have hay to keep their teeth down. Without it you can guarantee dental work will need doing.

tatt Thu 11-Sep-08 15:33:51

raabits should be getting hay or grass, preferably both. I feel rather concerned about their owner, who should have given you better instructions.

Some rabbits like to chew apple twigs if you have an apple tree in your garden.

Keep an eye on what you chuck in the hutch and replace it if it looks like its getting eaten.

BroccoliSpears Thu 11-Sep-08 15:37:23

My rabbits loved a bit of willow twig. Hay very important.

SmugColditz Thu 11-Sep-08 18:24:22

no panic.

On cleaning the rabit hutch out, there was definitely some old hay, and in the big packet there was a fresh bundle of hay, so clearly they do get it. I feel guilty I didn't give them and fresh hay until today though - perhaps she thought I would know what to do? they have a complete rabbit food anyway, have had some long grass, some dandelions and lots of fresh hay, so they are happy bunnies

tatt Thu 11-Sep-08 22:28:52

She maybe filled the sleeping area with hay and thought if you cleaned them out midweek that would do. But it would have been better if she'd asked you to check their hay. Sometimes people treat rabbits very badly.

Lovesdogsandcats Fri 12-Sep-08 09:20:17

tatt, could not agre emore, rabbits get a really bad deal.

I see it the same as keeping a cat or dog in a rabbit hutch, with no escape to run.. same dry food chucked in every day, and maybe water topped up and people think they are looking after them fine.
people who keep rabbits this way would be horrified to see an adult cat in a hutch 24/7, yet a rabbit is no different.

BUT I blame the hutch manufacturers and the pet stores that stock them. If the bare minimum size of hutch was large to begin with, say 5 or 6 foot long and had a large run attached, people would have to buy these or make their own. And since a large amount of people who get a rabbit do so on a whim, 'someone gave it to us' then they are most unlikely to go to trouble of making a small hutch.

I would never own a rabbit unless i could responsibly offere it a life as a house rabbit.

I also feel the same about guinea pigs, chinchillas and rats. Other lovely intelligent animals that deserve far more than they often get.

tatt Fri 12-Sep-08 10:02:58

Their owner may have them out in a run normally but not feel able to ask someone helping out to do that. Rabbits can be hard to handle unless you're used to it. For a week it isn't going to kill them to be hutch bound.

We kept our rabbits outdoors but they had a large run. We built our own hutch but for a short time had one that had been adapted from something like a sideboard or table. It took 2 people to move it and came from freecycle. Adapting an old piece of furniture is a good way to get a large hutch for less than the shops charge. You need to alter it a bit so the roof slopes and is covered with roofing felt and one door is mesh but you end up with something much sturdier and cheaper.

I recommend "the Problem with Rabbits" (from RSPCA) to anyone considering getting rabbits.

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