While they don't require walking, and wont bark to disrupt the neighbours, there are still important care requirements to ensure your rabbit has a long and happy life. Read our care information to get a sense of whats involved. A happy rabbit is one that has social interaction and stimulation (eg. playtime and cuddles) in addition to it's basic needs being met (safety, a clean shelter, appropriate diet and fresh water, vet care as needed). The more love and gentle attention you give a rabbit, the more friendly and interactive it will be. If you have young children, supervision will be needed to ensure the rabbit is handled safely. Rabbits can make great pets if you understand their requirements.
Abbey Green produces mini lop, netherland dwarf and mini plush lops. From time to time, we may have adult rabbits available for re-homing (rescue/rehome or retired from breeding). On each breed's For Sale page, we have some information about the physical description and usual personality type. Mini lops and mini plush lops are generally well suited for children as they are naturally inquisitive, and fairly robust for their size. They are super intelligent and great fun for all ages. The mini plush lop is also great for families who are more prone to allergies due to their unique hypo-allergenic velvet coat.
Our rabbits are very precious, and its important to us that they find long term responsible homes. We simply aren't interested if you are seeking a 'holiday fad', dont want to spend the necessary time and expense for upkeep and health care, or are going to forget about poor bunny if the novelty is going to wear off. We remain selective about the homes that adopt our precious babies, so please don't be offended if we ask a few questions to help us ensure our bunnies are a good fit. Our bunnies are not 'throw-away' gifts. Some considerations are:
Look for details of available babies on the website under the For Sale section. This includes photos, colour and sex. If you see a baby bunny that you might like to meet, proceed to the Purchase Information page for relevant information.
Put simply, we have the experience and knowledge you and your new family member deserve. All kits bred at Abbey Green come from quality, purebred parentage, and are cared for to a high standard. The health, quality and temperament of my rabbits is always the primary focus of my hobby. I aim to breed rabbits that are a happy, healthy and true representation of their breed. Buying from an experienced breeder with purebred quality breeding stock ensures your new family member has predictable characteristics - including size, shape and nature.
Over the past twelve years of breeding rabbits, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge regarding the various health issues rabbits may encounter, and have worked hard to minimise the risk within my breeding lines.
Maintaining a rabbitry is a significant commitment and I spend many hours each day caring for my rabbits and researching to ensure I can provide the best care standards and follow up support. I frequently receive positive feedback regarding the level of follow up support I provide, and many people contact me after being recommended.
Temperament based on sex varies with breed, with greater differences noted in breeds produced for meat or fur rather than companionship. It often comes down to individual personality rather than sex, with handling and interaction in early life playing a significant role in temperament. If I were to choose my ten most friendly mini lops, half would be bucks and half would be does. Its not as simple as one sex making a better pet than the other.
The main consideration is if you plan not to desex, as a percentage of bunnies may develop unwanted hormonal behaviour; fortunately this is not all rabbits. In a buck, he may spray or sometimes circle your feet when you are nearby. In a doe, it may be hutch protectiveness; which can vary from hiding in the corner grunting to express their displeasure of you invading the space they intend to raise babies in (regardless of actual pregnancy), to boxing, lunging or nipping/biting behaviour. Remember, if your rabbit begins to display these behaviours, it is not that they are nasty or mean; they are simply doing what their hormones are telling them to do. Its these varying hormonal behaviours that often lead people to make broad judgements about whether bucks or does make better pets, but there are pros and cons for both that need to be considered.
Both buck and doe hormonal behaviour is unpleasant, but the good news is it can be reduced or eliminated with desexing. Fortunately the vast majority of mini lops are interactive and affectionate despite remaining intact. If you plan to house two bunnies together; desexing allows you to pair any combination; one of each sex, two does, or two bucks. If you don't want to desex then you will be best having two girls (as intact boys will usually fight), however you may need to desex once they reach maturity regardless, and desexing does reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine abnormalities.
Possibly the most important considerations to keep your rabbit happy and healthy relate to maintaining a healthy weight.
* Greater Lifespan & Quality of Life
By increasing your rabbit’s general health and wellbeing, he will likely enjoy a greater lifespan and quality of life; meaning more time for you to love, snuggle and enjoy his company! A happy rabbit = a happy owner!
* More Active
An overweight rabbit tends to be more reluctant to move. Have you ever noticed that when you let your fat rabbit out for some exercise, he tends to find the nearest bush and take a nap in the shade? Ideally, rabbit will spend more time exploring the garden, providing mental stimulation and exercise. Exercise and activity reduces the risk of intestinal stasis and increases muscle mass and tone, as well as preventing boredom.
* A clean rear end!
Overproduction of cecotropes/chronic diarrhoea
An overweight rabbit is often the result of an inappropriate or unbalanced diet. This is problematic for several reasons. An incorrect diet will impact on the rabbit’s balance of digestive bacteria; often causing overproduction of cecotropes and chronic diarrhoea. This is further compounded when the rabbit can’t reach around to eat their cecotropes due to reduced mobility or fatty folds of skin (consuming cecotropes is a normal behaviour essential to allow maximum absorption of nutrients).
Urine scald/hutch burn
An overweight rabbit may experience difficulty positioning itself to urinate; hence the urine may contact the skin causing issues ranging from stained or wet fur, to a painful skin burn and loss of fur.
A dirty rear end is no fun for anyone. The rabbit is at increased risk of fly-strike, the hutch becomes much more work to keep clean, and a dirty, smelly bunny doesn’t tend to be handled and cuddled as much as a clean bun.
* Dental Health
A healthy balanced diet is high in fibre, which encourages chewing to keep the teeth in check. Rabbit teeth grow continuously, approximately 5inches per year. Rabbits with insufficient hay and tough fibrous materials in the diet are more susceptible to molar spurs – a painful and expensive condition.
* Poor Coat & Skin Disease
An overweight rabbit will often develop a dewlap (a small dewlap is permissible in does, but not acceptable in bucks). An excessive dewlap brings a raft of concerns; the rabbit may have difficulty grooming resulting in a dull or dirty coat, water provided in a bowl may accumulate in the folds of skin increasing risk of fungal infection and skin disease, or it may interfere with the ability to eat and drink comfortably.
So what is a healthy weight?
The breed standards provide a general guide for the weight range for various breeds. That being said, the range can be significant and a small example of a particular breed would be significantly overweight if it were close to the maximum acceptable weight. The breed standard outlines the standard for show quality stock, and its not unusual for pet quality stock to fall outside the weight range. It has limited use for cross-bred rabbits. Hence, it’s important to know what is healthy for your individual rabbit. To check your rabbit’s weight, place him on a level surface (making sure he has sufficient grip to sit in a relaxed posture – not sprawled out or scrambling for a footing). Run your hand up and down his back. You should be able to feel the hip bones, and a little of the spine. An overweight rabbit will have layers of fat making the bones difficult to feel. An extremely overweight rabbit may have a ‘skirt’ (rolls of fat towards the rump, tail, and hind legs) or even pads of shoulder fat. A buck rabbit should never have a dewlap, while a small dewlap is permissible in a doe. When you pick the rabbit up, you should be able to feel a waist; distinction between the ribs and pelvis. An overweight rabbit will often feel very solid through the body.
It’s just as important that your rabbit is not underweight. The bones should not feel too obvious, sharp or angular, and there should be no significant depression behind the last rib. An underweight rabbit will often have a dull, rough coat and produce fewer, smaller, droppings. In more severe cases he may exhibit signs of pain – ie. hunched appearance, teeth grinding. An underweight rabbit may be the result of inadequate diet, but more often an underlying health issue; in which case a vet check is recommended. In some cases, insufficient access to water can also be a cause, so ensure your rabbit always has fresh, clean water available and is comfortable with the method its provided (bowl vs bottle).
So how do we maintain a healthy weight?
* Balanced Diet
To assist pet owners, Abbey Green Rabbit Stud has quality feed and hay options available for purchase. These are the same feed options we provide our rabbits. Click here for details.
A good quality hay such as oaten/timothy should comprise 70-80% of the diet. Hay is high in fibre, but also contains nutritional elements, which are lacking in straw. Lucerne (also known as alfalfa) can be fed in limited amounts, but is higher in protein than oaten hay and tends to cause weight gain and over production of cecotropes; hence really only a good option for underweight rabbits.
A limited amount of pellets; quality pellets are a convenient way to ensure your rabbit receives adequate nutrition. It is very difficult to ensure your rabbit receives a correct balance of vitamins and minerals through feeding hay and vegetables alone. At Abbey Green, we have developed a quality chaff based mix with a good balance of pellets and other ingredients to ensure nutritional needs are met, while keeping the diet interesting. We have several options, depending on your rabbit’s taste preferences and activity levels. There is also a pellet free option for rabbits with sensitive digestive systems that can’t be settled with a quality balanced diet inclusive of pellets. Click here for details.
Fresh vegetable matter; Provide fresh leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, celery, carrot tops, wheatgrass etc. Limit vegetables high in natural sugars such as carrots, apples, bananas etc. You can allow your rabbit lawn time, as long as no fertilizers or pesticides have been applied, but don’t give lawn clippings as these tend to ferment quickly and cause gut problems. I also like to give my rabbits herbs (mint, parsley, basil, rosemary, lemongrass) and citrus leaves.
Limit treats; Many commercial treats are high in sugars and fats. These are often labelled as molasses, sucrose and fructose; although most pet products don’t require an ingredient listing. Many commercial feed mixes also contain high amounts of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and an array of colourful biscuit type pieces; while these look delicious, they are not good food options for a rabbit – regardless of what the packaging claims! If you feel you must provide your rabbit these foods, offer it as a treat (i.e. a flat teaspoon a few times a week – but aim to avoid it completely if your rabbit is prone to being overweight).
* Be mindful that a rabbit has no knowledge of a healthy diet, and will be inclined to eat the tasty options first. For some rabbits, this means they may fill up on pellets/mix and greens and therefore consume less hay. If this sounds like your rabbit, limit the quantities, or divide the pellets/mix into two serves (am/pm) to allow him time to graze on hay during the day. You can also make hay fun by stuffing it in a hay rack, hay wheel, or in cardboard boxes or tubes to make it a game for rabbit to pull out.
Is the diet right?
A good gauge is to examine your rabbit’s droppings. They should be relatively large, round shape, firm and dry consistency, and a medium brown colour. It should crumble easily if squashed. The cecotropes should have some form and look like a collection of small balls (similar to a miniature
bunch of grapes). They should have a slightly darker colour, look shiny and be somewhat sticky to the touch. If the droppings are small or hard, the rabbit needs more fibre in the diet, so try increasing the hay. If your rabbit needs to fine tune his diet, be sure you make gradual changes. Never completely remove all food sources as a rabbit needs to graze throughout the day (hay is a good option). Don’t suddenly cut out pellets as the rabbit will be at increased risk of hepatic lipidosis (liver damage).
Ensure your rabbit has sufficient time and room for exercise. Give them time outside the hutch each day to run, stretch and explore. This allows the burning of excess calories, mental stimulation to prevent boredom, increased muscle mass and tone, and improved gut motility. You might encourage rabbit to be more active by changing the environment; offer boxes, tunnels and obstacle courses with different levels for him to play in, or consider a buddy as many rabbits are more active when they have a rabbit companion to interact with.
Toileting everywhere: My perfect rabbit has forgotten how to use a litter tray!
A quick checklist:
* How old is the rabbit? A rabbit approaching maturity may experience a rush of hormones, increasing their desire to mark their territory. This may settle with time as the hormones settle down (think teenage angst!) or you may like to consider desexing.
* Has there been a new addition to the household (new pet or family member)
* Has the routine changed
* Has the hutch, litter tray or litter material changed
* Have you redecorated or rearranged the furniture
If none of these apply, which might suggest rabbit is feeling insecure and wanting to mark his territory, it may warrant a vet check to ensure there is no medical cause. If rabbit is still learning how to use a litter tray, you may need to restrict the space he has access to. Limit him to a playpen or one room, and only expand the space accessible once he demonstrates consistent litter tray habits.
Urinating next to the litter tray
* Choose a litter box with high sides / with a hood to help make a clearer distinction between toileting and non-toiletting areas. Check that the tray is a comfortable size and not too small.
* Put a handful of hay in the litter tray or hang a hay rack above the tray to encourage the rabbit to sit in the right place
* Don’t be too thorough in litter tray cleaning. If you disinfect or give a thorough scrub, place a small amount of soiled litter material or sweep up droppings into the tray to provide a clear signal to the rabbit.
Why has my perfectly litter trained rabbit just urinated on the couch?!
Uh-oh, this is not pleasant! The couch and bed can be victim to inappropriate toileting, as these are areas where human scent becomes more concentrated. Often the cause is territory marking when they reach sexual maturity. See the above section: ‘Toileting everywhere: My perfect rabbit has forgotten how to use a litter tray!’ for tips. Restricting access, placing a litter tray (as a temporary fix) to strengthen the association with the tray, or covering the couch with a waterproof sheet may help.
A. This is a question I frequently hear, usually after the rabbit has been home for a few weeks. You will notice that when rabbit first comes home, he has a beautiful soft clean coat. So where do things go wrong? Most commonly, these issues are diet related. For an informative article with clear pictures of what to look for, see http://imgur.com/a/5N4lD
Remember, a baby rabbit has a very delicate digestive system which can easily be upset. A rabbit with the correct balanced diet will not be dirty around his rear end and won't need washing as they will groom themselves. They self groom like a cat - licking the coat for light debris and natural oils, but they arent able to clean heavy mess or poop which sticks to the coat. What I suggest is giving him a good wash to get the coat clean initially, then feed lots of oaten or timothy/meadow hay (not lucerne), with a high fibre mix food like the one he came home with for the transition. Cut out any fruit or veggies for a short while to let his belly settle (and be mindful of what he is nibbling on if he has time on the lawn or garden). You can also pop some probiotics in his diet to settle things quickly, such as the Inner Health plus lactose free capsules (I empty the capsule in a few drops of water and give by syringe). Essentially what can happen when the diet is too rich (usually too many veggies - particularly sweet sugary things like carrot, apple) is they over produce cecotropes and ultimately can develop diarrhea. Some really safe veggies to try once things have settled are - 1 leaf of bok choy, a few celery leaves, herbs such as mint and parsley. Remember rabbit only has a tiny tummy, so even half a carrot at this age is the equivalent of letting your kids run wild in a candy store!
MINI LOP / MINI REX
Make sure your vet is knowledgeable and experienced with rabbits! Abbey Green is not affiliated with any of the below vets, nor are we liable in any way if you access them. Please make your own assessment of suitability prior to accessing.
Balcatta/Murdoch Unusual Pet Vet
Ian McDowell - Riseley Veterinary Centre, 113 Hulme Court, Myaree. Ph: 9329 9222
Morley Vet Centre, Rudlock Rd, Morley
Breeding for health is a priority at Abbey Green. Genetic malocclusion can be detected between 3-8weeks of age, and all of our rabbits have their teeth checked before going to their new homes. We have a strict no tolerance policy for rabbits with teeth issues, or producing kits with teeth issues, and they are not used in our breeding programs at all. This means we have been able to minimise the risk through years of selective breeding. A rabbit with properly aligned teeth will not need any special care to maintain good oral health. A large handful of hay each day and some chew toys is sufficient to encourage chewing for normal teeth care. The diagram displays correct alignment. Note the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth.
Unfortunately some rabbits may develop malocclusion, either a congenital condition through poor breeding, through trauma / injury, or cage / wire pulling behaviours. This is where the front teeth do not align properly and therefore do not wear evenly, causing the teeth to become overgrown. Rabbits may display poor appetite, weight loss, changes in food preferences, or develop eye problems (particularly weepy eyes) if teeth problems are present. Cases of malocclusion may need follow up by an experienced vet.