Taking care – Keeping Your Rabbits Clean and Healthy
The starting point is to have sufficient space for your rabbits. This will allow you to easily clean the accommodation and prevent it from becoming too soiled.
Outdoor rabbits should have a spacious hutch, an outdoor run that can be easily accessed and an area to hide away. In some parts of the world rabbits are kept indoors because of threats from predators or weather extremes and will often have access to a bigger space within the home.
Absorbent bedding needs to be supplied. This will help to prevent your rabbit from becoming soiled if he or she sits in droppings or urine and it will also absorb odours.
Can you bathe a rabbit?
It’s not generally recommended to bathe a rabbit – as they find it stressful and can easily be hurt. Spot cleaning a soiled area may be necessary though as flies can be attracted to soiled and damp fur and may lay eggs, resulting in maggots hatching out. This condition is called fly strike and can be extremely serious. It means that keeping your rabbits clean is really important.
Clean rabbits start with a clean hutch
Hutches and other accommodation should be cleaned out around once or twice a week. Rabbits are very clean in their habits and will generally create their own toilet area, which can be cleared out more often. This is also a good opportunity to check out the rabbit poo – lots of rabbit poo or poo of different types can tell you a lot about the health of your rabbit.
Rabbits can also be trained to use a litter tray. For indoor rabbits this is a particular benefit as it allows them to live more closely alongside their human companions, without adapting home floor coverings.
How to clean a rabbit cage or hutch
For a deep clean, make sure your rabbit is put in an outdoor run or safe rabbit-proof room while you clean. Remove all bedding material, floor liners or hay. If you use fleece bedding remove it for washing, preferably at a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. Remove water and food dishes and toys – these can be washed in hot soapy water and rinsed well. Brush out all debris. Scrub out the hutch or cage with hot, soapy water and allow to dry.
If the weather isn’t good enough to provide time for an outdoor hutch to dry, you can also use a rabbit-safe disinfectant spray. You can also use this spray to clean toys, hay racks or other items.
In the dry, clean hutch provide new floor lining and bedding. Refill and place water, fill food bowls. Replace toys. Provide fresh, clean hay. It’s now ready for your rabbit.
Is regular grooming needed to keep my rabbits clean?
Rabbits tend to groom and wash themselves and their bunny companions. It is also a good idea to accustom your rabbit to being handled and to groom coats with a soft brush. This gives you a chance to check for lumps and bumps or injuries.
Long-haired rabbits will require more regular grooming and a comb will generally be needed to detangle hair and prevent matting. Rabbits’ skin is very delicate so dog and cat grooming tools are not always appropriate and it is worth buying brushes and combs specifically designed for rabbits.