Rabbit Health Advice
All rabbits, even those kept indoors, should be vaccinated against these diseases because they can still become infected.
Myxomatosis only affects rabbits, but both wild and pet rabbits are susceptible. The virus causes severe swelling of the eyelids, lips and genitals. Rabbits can be vaccinated against Myxomatosis from 10 weeks of age and require an annual booster.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a particularly nasty viral disease which reached the UK in 1992, and, like Myxomatosis, only affects rabbits and requires an anuual vaccination.
After reaching puberty at 4-6 months of age, both males and females can become quite aggressive and territorial.
They may fight and scratch each other, and even their owners!
In addition, older female rabbits are at risk from uterine cancer and uterine infections.
Neutering can be done from 4-6 months of age in both sexes. It is important to note that male rabbits may still be fertile up to 6 weeks after castration, so they should not be put straight back in with any females.
Rabbits need a high fibre diet – their digestive system has evolved to deal with such a diet and, indeed, too little fibre in the diet can give rise to digestive tract disturbances, often manifesting as diarrhoea.
In addition, their teeth are continually growing: without lots of chewing they can become overgrown and misaligned, and without the proper nutrients in their diet the teeth can become brittle. Grass and hay should be provided every day. Only good quality hay should be used and should be available at all times.
Keeping More Than One Rabbit
When introducing adult rabbits they should be given time to get used to each other before having direct physical contact, as serious fighting may occur.
This is best done by putting them into individual pens separated only by a wire mesh for a few weeks to allow them to get used to each other.
After some initial chasing around they usually settle and can go back into their permanent home.
Rabbits from the same litter can usually be kept together with no problems, although sometimes fighting will start once they reach sexual maturity.
To prevent rabbits fighting, or if fighting starts between litter-mates, then neutering is the best option to prevent this.
It is possible to keep rabbits with guinea pigs as companions, but care should be taken as rabbits can harm guinea pigs quite easily if they don't get on.