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New rabbit advice

(10 Posts)
ladyfordington Wed 22-Feb-17 14:37:33

Hi, new to this as we have just got our first rabbit and am looking for some advice...

We've adopted a male rabbit from Pets at Home - we hadn't intended to get one from there, (we'd intended to go to a rescue) but we went in looking at hutches and saw this little fella in the adoption section there. He'd apparently been rescued by a neighbour because the family had kept him initially as a house rabbit then got fed up and put him outside in the cold and left him shock. He doesn't have a winter coat so he's an indoor bun with us for now, with the hope of moving him to a hutch outside in warmer weather. (Unless someone tells me this a terrible idea...)

My questions are -

Food - PAH gave me a small bag of their own pellets and said this was 'the best' to feed him. I know I'll need to wean slowly if I change his food but I was considering Burgess Excel instead - any thoughts on this?

Hay - I've seen all different types, with different things added (chamomile, dandelion, birch etc). What is the best and should he get a variety of different types?

Once he's settled and neutered, and when the weather is warmer, the plan was is to move outside to a hutch, but also to approach one of the rescues to try and bond him with a female so he'll have company - is this a reasonable plan, and if so, in which order should we do this - settle him into the hutch first then try and bond with another rabbit or adopt another bun first and move them outside together?

Sorry for such a long post and all the questions, I'm just quite excited at the moment! grin

Sweepingchange Wed 22-Feb-17 14:46:44

Congratulations on adopting a rabbit

You can get some very good advice from this website here

Look under "Advice" and then under "Information leaflets"

The best feed for a rabbit is not the cereal mixed muesli type (they pick out their favourite bits and leave the rest) but a high quality combined pellet

Plus lots of fresh food of course (not lettuce!) look on the list provided by the RWA

Finally, you may not be aware that ideally, rabbits should not be kept alone as they are very social, "herd" animals. If you could find a spayed female from a rescue for your rabbit to bond with, that would be ideal (again RWA has advice on introducing rabbits to one another - must be done on neutral territory) and the rescue centre should be able to help with this too.

Finally, finally, please don't keep him in a hutch! Again, advice on best housing (rabbits can jump very high and need to have room to twist and turn) can be found on RWA website.

Good luck!

Sweepingchange Wed 22-Feb-17 15:11:40

Oh I'm so sorry - I read your op too fast - see you are intending to get him a female companion! Sounds like a good plan! I think a rescue centre would be best to advise about bonding! Good luck!

Sweepingchange Wed 22-Feb-17 15:19:45

Good info about hay here

I buy different types of hay at vast expense for my rabbits because I like them to have variety but tbh, I think the quality of the hay and whether it is dry and dust free and not at all damp is more important that variety probably!

Meffy Wed 22-Feb-17 15:28:49

First .... be very careful when weaning to a new food... if your bun gets a runny bum it can kill them. They have very delicate digestive systems and if he's happy on the PAH stuff then I'd leave him there.
Pairing is great and both neutered is best for big love.
I would try to bond before moving outside as you will need to keep them separate whilst bonding and then you won't have territory problems in the new hutch!
Congratulations!!

AlwaysaNortherner Wed 22-Feb-17 15:31:37

Congrats on your new bunny smile

I feed ours Burgess Excel and they have always been very healthy on it. (The vet recently told me she thought they were chunky in a good, muscular way!) We also have lots of hay at vast expense here, at the moment they are loving Ings Hay from hay-and-straw.co.uk.

House bunnies can be very entertaining and you can form a close bond with them being inside, but of course there are mess and chewing downsides to consider.

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Wed 22-Feb-17 15:50:55

Poor bunny! I'm glad you've adopted him.

The Pets at Home pellets are very similar to Excel I think, so it probably won't make much difference. I'd stick to the ones he's used to for now smile

Be careful with portion sizes. The recommendation on the bag is often too much. Just keep an eye to see if he's getting podgy!

I'd get advice from the rescue about bonding and moving outside. He is probably better inside until nearer the time as he may be a bit lonely on his own. Make sure he has plenty of toys to distract him. Mine love anything made of willow, rushes etc that they can destroy.

Personally I'd buy the normal hay. Well, ours have Timothy hay because it's in bigger pieces. I find the normal hay us in tiny bits do it just falls through their hay rack. You can buy the extra bits and bobs separately too if you want to add those. I think it's probably better value than buying it ready-mixed. Make sure you put some hay by his litter tray if he uses one, as they seem to like to eat hay while going to the bathroom.

ladyfordington Wed 22-Feb-17 18:09:15

Thank you for the replies and the good advice, I've taken it all on board and have checked out those links for more info.

The info on housing is really interesting - DH is planning on building the housing and we were thinking of something about 5ft with 2 floors and ramps etc (I see now it needs to be bigger). Crucially though we were intending on having the 'hutch' in our enclosed yard so he's close to the house and having a separate run in the garden to put him in. I'm now thinking his housing should be in the garden permanently so he has full access to the run all the time...

We certainly won't keep him as a lone bunny - as soon as it's appropriate we'll find him a companion smile

TroysMammy Wed 22-Feb-17 18:15:20

Nuggets are best because they don't pick out what they like from rabbit mix and waste it. My rabbit loved curly kale but when I had him 19 years ago, kale came in whole leaves and not chopped up. All my trousers had nibble holes around the ankles as he used to tug on them every time I opened the fridge door. Once he also nicked cauliflower from my shopping bag. He was funny but I had to keep my eye on him.

FernieB Wed 22-Feb-17 20:01:35

Well done for adopting a bun in need. Definitely a good plan to adopt a friend from a rescue asap - they will advise and help with bonding. I'd get him neutered as soon as you can. Also buns need annual vaccinations, so don't forget to get those done too.

My boy was on P@H nuggets when I adopted him. All attempts to wean him slowly onto something else were met with bowl throwing (even when only a small amount of the new pellet was mixed into his beloved P@H pellets). I gave up. He's now nearly 6 and happy with his diet, although he does occasionally try to swipe the guinea pigs nuggets if he gets a chance. He gets a small amount of kale every day and sometimes a bit of broccoli or carrot - too much and he has a dodgy tum, but other rabbits can happily munch away at much more veg with no ill effects. I give him a plentiful supply of hay. He prefers the cheap stuff from Tesco, but I do give better quality stuff as well. I probably do vary the kind but mainly because I'll buy whichever bag is on special offerwink.

I've not bonded rabbits successfully (mine is a lone boy due to violent tendencies in the presence of other rabbits), but I'd bond him at a rescue first and then let them explore a new home together. That way, your boy won't have scentmarked it and made it his territory - it'll be a neutral space for them. Some rescues will take your rabbit and board them for a few days while they bond them with another bun.

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