When it comes to helping your bunny live their best life, there’s a lot of seasonal snippets to remember. Luckily, the Supreme Team have got your back with our handy month-by-month rabbit care guide.
During the winter months, buns have less opportunity to graze on grass. This means it’s especially important to feed free access to hay to ensure they get enough long fibre for healthy guts and to boost their daily dose of vitamin D! January is also a great time of year to check your rabbit’s teeth are not becoming overgrown due to reduced munching. Make sure they have plenty of opportunity to get gnawing with our tasty Tiny Friend’s Farm stickles.
Rabbits can shed all year round, but will often have heavier moults heading into Spring and again in the Autumn. Suitable rabbit grooming tools can help to shift excess fur and avoid uncomfortable clumps and knots. It is important to keep their coat in top condition as we look ahead to the warmer spring and summer months where insects will be on the up and flystrike risk increases. This is also a good time of year to get into the habit of checking claw length regularly as your pet may have been less active during the Winter months. If they are looking too long, speak to your vet practice.
It won’t be long until baby wild bunnies are born. They might be cute, but wild rabbits can spread diseases between our pets. Early spring is a great time of year to ask your vet practice about vaccinations for the highly infectious diseases RHD1, RHD2 and myxomatosis. RHD strains 1 and 2 can be spread through the air, insect bites, directly from other rabbits, or carried by humans on our shoes and clothes.
Myxomatosis can also be spread by other rabbits and insects. Your pet should be kept up-to-date with annual boosters, although your vet may recommend spreading out the vaccines for each of these diseases by a couple of weeks.
The Easter bunny is not a good role model for this species, as chocolate isn’t good for our rabbits, due to the caffeine and theombromine content. Particularly important for house pets, be sure not to leave any sweet treats within their reach. If you fancy giving your bunny a snack, check our list of safe fruit and veggies to feed.
As we head into late spring and early summer, bunnies are likely to spend more time in their outdoor run. Why not think about some fun ideas to help keep them entertained? Any game or toy that encourages natural rabbit behaviours is fab enrichment. They love tunnels, digging pits, viewing platforms, and foraging games. A top tip is to switch in and out different features so they never get bored. You can even make your own enrichment toys.
Early summer is a popular time of year to welcome new pets to the fur family. If you are introducing them to another rabbit, we suggest speaking to your local expert pet shop for their advice and tips. It’s also worth thinking about using treats for training and encouraging a pet-owner bond. We recommend opting for premium, species specific treats that are low in sugar, avoiding any bound with molasses or fruit syrups, as these can lead to health problems down the line.
Summer flies are an annoyance to us hoomins, but to rabbits and other pets they can be fatal. Flies can lay their eggs on your pet, which hatch into maggots that cause significant flesh damage and pain, a condition known as flystrike. This is a case where prevention is far better than cure, and we recommend checking your pet twice a day for signs of flies or any open wounds or diarrhoea that might attract them. Consider using fly screens, planting naturally insect-repellent greenery nearby and increasing the frequency of hutch cleaning. We recommend using a pet-friendly product such as Keep It Clean from our Tiny Friends Farm range. You can also speak to your vet about suitable anti-parasitic products for your rabbit.
Rabbits do not cope well with extremes of temperature, and struggle to stay cool partly due to their inability to pant or sweat. Be proactive about avoiding heatstroke in your pet, as this causes significant distress and can be rapidly fatal. Keep their hutch and enclosure out of direct sunlight, with plenty of shade available. You can also add ice cubes to water, to keep it cooler. Ceramic tiles and tunnels are also a great option for bunnies to take a break somewhere cool, as these conduct heat away from their body. Know the signs of heatstroke in your pet, and contact a vet as an emergency if you are concerned.
It’s moulting time again! Get back into the habit of regular grooming, especially as flies and other insects will still be hanging around. It’s really important to continue with any preventative measures to avoid insect bites, as well as ticks and fleas.
Before we head into the winter months, now can be a good time for your pet’s annual check-up, particularly for older individuals. You can take this opportunity to ask your vet about care tips to help prepare for firework season and the colder weather. Looking after a rabbit involves forward-planning, and it’s also worth checking over any winter products such as hutch covers for signs that they need repairing or replacing so that everything is ready to go before the temperatures drop.
Fireworks night is a stressful time for small pets, but there are ways you can help. Consider relocating their hutch indoors or somewhere quieter, and make sure to offer plenty of hay to muffle the bangs. It can also work well to offer plenty of treats and toys as distractions, especially if these encourage natural foraging behaviours to keep them occupied. Read our full guide to fireworks night here.
Tis the season to be chilly… Rabbit care in winter involves finding the right solution to help keep them cosy, but not too hot! Buns prefer temperatures between 10°C and 20°C and some owners will bring their pets indoors at this time of year, while others keep them outside with extra insulation in the form of hutch covers and plenty of bedding. This will need changing regularly, as pests and insects will also be looking for a place to hide out from the frosty weather. It’s also really important that they have unlimited access to water at all times, so check their water bottles regularly to make sure these haven’t frozen, and consider offering bowls as back-ups. Get more winter care tips on looking after a rabbit here.
If you have any questions about your pet’s care needs, speak to your local pet shop expert, or veterinary practice.
Don’t forget, you can now help us make a difference to rescue rabbits by purchasing a copy of the UK Instagram Bunnies calendar here