What’s up, Doc?

Posted on by Shangzhe Xie, DVM

I frequently have dreams of being visited by a rabbit patient holding a carrot in his hand and asking me: “What’s up, doc?” This may be a result of me watching too many cartoons when I was younger, and also thinking too much about the patients I see throughout the workday. In reality, the more frequently asked questions about rabbits include:

  1. What should I feed my rabbit?
    I usually recommend offering rabbits plenty of hay, an assortment of green leafy vegetables, some rabbit pellets and an occasional treat of dried or fresh fruits (but avoiding the overly acidic citrus fruits). The aim is to replicate the natural diet of grass and plants as much as possible, and since it is difficult to provide a constant supply for fresh grass, good quality hay is the best replacement possible.
  2. Can I train my rabbit to use a litter box?
    You can. It’s easier if you start young, but the trick is to provide a litter box where they can easily access it. Rabbits tend not to defecate/urinate on food, so if you fill the rest of the habitat with hay, leaving only the litter box, they usually learn quite quickly to use it.
  3. How big should the habitat be?
    Every rabbit is different, but in general the set-up should allow each rabbit to hop at least 3 times across the length of the dwelling.
  4. How can I stop my rabbit from eating its own feces?
    The short answer is that you should not stop that behavior. Rabbits produce cecotropes, which they consume to provide essential nutrition, so stopping that behavior is actually detrimental to their health.

Good husbandry and nutrition will help prevent your pet rabbit from falling sick. It’s also important to bear in mind that they don’t like weather that is too warm. If you live in a part of the country where temperatures frequently exceed 85 degrees, remember to leave a frozen water bottle in the habitat so that they can snuggle up against it to cool down.

About Shangzhe Xie, DVM

Shangzhe Xie, DVM, graduated in 2008 from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, and completed a Master of Veterinary Studies in Conservation Medicine from Murdoch University in 2010. Dr. Xie worked at Banfield Pet Hospital of Burbank, Ill., from July 2010 to June 2012 and expanded the clientele to include exotic species. He also served on the Banfield Exotic Pets Care Guidelines Committee in 2011. He is currently working relief at veterinary facilities in and around Singapore and Australia while waiting to begin a PhD program. View all posts by Shangzhe Xie, DVM →


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