Looking After Your Rabbit

The most common way of housing your Continental Giant rabbits is in a hutch. Because Continental Giant Rabbits are large breeds, they will need a minimum sized hutch of six 6foot by two foot by two foot although ideally it should be tall enough for them to be able to stand up, this would be a minimum requirement. Six foot to eight foot tall and two to three foot wide by two to three foot depth would be ideal if you have the space. It must be big enough to allow your rabbit plenty of room to move around. There should two definable areas in the hutch a sleeping compartment at one end and a living end with wire mesh to provide plenty of ventilation. If your hutch is out doors the roof should have an overhang and a tarpaulin or other waterproof sheet should be used to cover the front of the cage in bad weather. Alternatively a shed, garage or outbuilding can be divided up into pens if you intend to keep several rabbits, make sure the sides of the pen are high enough to stop your rabbit jumping out or of course a fox or any other predator from jumping in. We have a large shed with built in hutches and also bike storage sheds, which are normally seven foot by three foot, we have found these perfect, giving them plenty of space to roam around freely, Giants are very good jumpers and wouldn’t think twice about clearing a high fence so beware.... Other good places to house your rabbits would be in an outhouse or garage either building hutches against the wall or separating areas off for them individually. If you do decide to use a shed or garage make sure there is plenty of ventilation and it is protected from other animals getting in, netting over open windows and a secondary door made of netting will prevent unwanted intruders and ideally locking up securely overnight. Feed should be kept in storage bins to deter rodents and kept dry. Also it is important to allow your rabbit to stretch its legs as  rabbits need to exercise so if they are in a hutch its important that they get plenty of exercise so a good quality rabbit run is essential if your rabbit cannot run freely. This should be secured down, with either tent pegs or spikes to make sure that your bunny doesn’t burrow out or escape and making sure that predators cannot burrow in, if it’s on grass then I tend to put a row of shingles around the edge, this way it makes it easier to see if its been disturbed by other animals that are maybe trying to get in to them, We have fenced an area of the garden off especially for the rabbits to use as a run. If you let your rabbit have the run of the garden, then it is important to make sure it is completely secure and safe with no escape routes and take a walk round daily to check for any burrowing, also making sure that you are not able to get to any plants that may be poisonous to them. Rabbits are naturally inquisitive so provide your bunny with plenty to do, they love plant pots filled with earth or shredded paper to allow them to forage, toilet roll holders and balls to play with, ramps and tunnels, we use the big drainage pipe joints that you can get from a plumbers merchants but anything they can hide in.

It is also important to make sure that your bunnies housing has plenty of light and fresh air and is well ventilated and kept out of the wind and rain in the cold weather and cool enough in the summer that they don’t over heat as this can quickly dehydrate your bunny and if not rectified can kill them very quickly

We use wood shavings and barley straw for our Continental Giant Rabbits, there are alternatives, everyone has their own favourites. It’s a case of using what is most readily available and convenient for you. Buying bedding from pet shops can be expensive; it is well worth trying agricultural suppliers or farms or your local equestrian centre who will often sell Barley straw and Hay, there are several types of straw but a lot are very coarse and hard and we have found Barley straw the best and is a much softer straw. It’s also worth enquiring to see whether there is a local wood mill which would be much more useful for obtaining saw dust and shaving's but make sure that it is not wet. Rabbits should be cleaned out regularly. The hutch can be cleaned with disinfectant but always read the label and make sure it is animal friendly.

If you decide to keep your rabbit as a house rabbit you may consider having it neutered. A buck may   spray as it gets older which is a territory thing and leaves a nasty smell, Bucks are cheaper and easier to have neutered and tend to be more amenable once castrated, although Does can be kept as house rabbits successfully. Rabbits like to gnaw and cables seem to be a favourite and need to be kept out of your rabbits reach. You can give your rabbit toys to play with, empty toilet roll tubes to chew on or restrict access to rooms with cables, rabbits enjoy playing with wicker balls, and baby rattles bought mine a puppy teething ring that they love throwing around. To litter train your rabbit watch where it goes to the toilet (it will use the same place each time) and put the litter tray there and it will soon learn to use it, if it has an accident and goes somewhere else then lift the droppings and place them into the litter tray and when they do use the tray give them plenty of fuss, It is best to use wood based cat litter as some rabbits will try and eat clay based ones and could cause a blockage..

 

 

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Feeding Your Rabbit

Pellets
The main diet of a rabbit should be rabbit pellets. Rabbits can also be fed certain vegetables, and hay. Good quality pellet should be 16% to 18% protein, and at least 16% fiber.
They should have availability to clean fresh water daily and plenty of Hay, and fresh fruit and vegetables, I also give Barley rings that are for horses but are good for their Fur/Coats and help maintain their weight.


Hay
Hay should also be a regular part of your rabbit’s diet. Hay helps reduce hairballs and Bloat (blockages in the intestines which can kill your rabbit.) The most preferable type of hay is timothy or Barley hay. It provides the best fiber and lowest levels of calcium. Alfalfa hay is higher in calcium and protein and lower in fiber and most complete rabbit foods and pellets will already contain Alfalfa. Straw can also be used, but contains little nutritional value.


Vegetables & Treats
Rabbits have a sweet tooth. They can be fed several types of treats, but should be limited to small portions two or three times a week. Never feed treats that have been treated with chemical fertilizer or pesticides. If your rabbit’s droppings become loose then it could be a sign that you are over feeding fruit and vegetables.

Below are the things that are good to feed your bunny and will maintain good health
Apples (no seeds) Grapes, Pears (no seeds), Oranges, Strawberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Papayas, Pineapples, Melons, Mangoes, Peaches (no pit),Tomatoes, Peas ,Beans, Kale ,Carrots, Carrot Tops, Mustard Greens, Dandelion Greens, Sugar Beets, Parsnips,
Parsley ,Mint and Blackberries.

Mint is also good to give to a Doe that has finished Lactating and will help to dry up her milk, Blackberries especially the young branches including the little thorns are very good to feed to a pregnant Doe to help provide good nutrition to her milk ready for her kits.

Rabbits are Lactose intolerant, their digestive system doesn’t handle fats and Lactose, if you do decide to give your bunny a treat of porridge etc then always use a powdered kitten milk, we use Cimicat as it’s the closest one to their own milk, try not to give these treats often as the porridge although it is oats does have additives like salt and sugar which is not good for them, the best treat is a homemade muesli as you then know what’s in it, again bought muesli may have some nuts in that rabbits can’t have so a nice homemade muesli is the way to go.

.Below are the things that are bad for your bunny and should be avoided at all costs  

All plants that are grown from bulb
Lettuce, Evergreens, Arum, Anemone, Bluebells, Buttercups, Daffodil, Dock, Deadly Nightshade, Delphinium, Foxglove, Fools Parsley, Ground Ivy, Gypsophellia, Hemlock, honeysuckle, Iris, Jasmine, Lobelia, Lily of the Valley, Love in the Mist, Oak Branches, Poppies, Potato Tops, Plum Branches, Rhubarb Leaves ( highly toxic ), Red Clover, Snow Drops, Tomato Leaves, Tulips, Yew, Skunk Cabbage,
Rhododendron, Poinsettia,  Philodendron, Peony, Pear and Apple seeds, Peach, Plum and Apricot Pits, Oak, Nutmeg, Mistletoe ,Mustards, Milkweed, Jonquil, Cheery Pits, Clematis, Creeping Charlie, Daisy, Eucalyptus, Carnations, Asparagus Fern, Azalea ,Bleeding Heart ,Acorns and Almonds

 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Bloat

Bloat is probably a rabbit owners worse nightmare, as it happens so quickly, one minute your bunny can be running around, eating, drinking ,going to the toilet, playing and happy and the next it can be showing signs of Bloat....you will notice sudden signs of chances in behaviour ,the rabbit will appear to look blown up or like an over filled balloon, this is caused by an accumulation of gases ,its stomach will feel hard to the touch and if you put your ear to the rabbits stomach will often hear a swishing of fluids ,rabbits cannot pass wind or be sick so it is important that this is dealt with quickly as the rabbit could die if not treated.......I personally would give a syringe of pineapple juice  and massage but would recommend immediate veterinary treatment to be safe. The rabbit may also show signs of huddling in the corner and being inactive, its coat may also appear dull and eyes glazed, they will often grind their teeth loudly and drop their body temperature. The earlier this is diagnosed and treated the better the bunnies chance of survival. I cannot stress enough that this is a killer in rabbits and you will need to act quickly