As we celebrate the Chinese year of the rabbit we thought we would take a closer look at our hoppy friends!
Our Barleylands rabbits are always very popular with visitors. In particular those families who are considering keeping their own and have come to the farm to ask questions.
First and foremost, rabbits need company! They are an incredibly sociable animal and, as long as they are neutered, any combination of rabbits can live together once bonded. Having a ‘friend’ doesn’t only provide essential companionship: they will also keep each other warm and groom one another’s hard to-reach areas.
Baby rabbits, or kits, are born with their eyes closed but they make up for this as soon as their eyes open as they then have almost 360 degree vision. It’s very difficult to sneak up on a rabbit!
They also have excellent hearing (must be those LARGE ears) and can pinpoint the tiniest sounds. As they are unable to sweat (a royal connection here, perhaps?…) they lose heat through these large ears, similar to elephants. And that is probably the ONLY similarity we can think of…
You know a rabbit is happy when you see him/her suddenly leap and twist in the air. Did you know that the official term for this movement is a ‘binky’? Well…when elephants crack THAT one we’ll really be making progress.
Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing. The more grass and hay they munch on the better as it helps to wear down the teeth as well as preventing decay. And go easy on the root vegetables: carrots, in particular, are surprisingly high in sugar. But don’t worry; there are plenty of good rabbit nutrition guides online so you can be sure to get the perfect balance. Don’t forget the importance of constant, fresh water in a nice, clean bowl. It’s very thirsty work being a rabbit.
You might be pleased to hear that rabbits are unable to vomit! But, with all that grooming, they have to expel the fur balls somehow. So long as they have plenty of roughage, their digestive system will cope well. And, on the subject of digestion, don’t have a panic attack when you see rabbits consuming their droppings. This is perfectly normal behaviour. They are quite choosy about which ones they eat (caecotrophs) to get extra proteins and vitamins.
Rabbits need a spacious, comfortable home and plenty of room (and opportunity) for exercise. You should make it as secure as possible. Chasing after a rabbit which runs at 18mph and jumps heights of up to 4ft is not an activity you will want to repeat regularly.
A happy, healthy rabbit can live for up to 12 years (or even longer depending on the breed). And that’s a wholelot of snuggling!