Source: Isaac Nunoofio
A rabbit is an interesting animal which needs tender and loving care if you want it to survive and live for a long time so that it can give you satisfaction either as a pet or as a source of income. If you want to take care of a rabbit properly, you must give it proper housing and good nutrition. Moreover, rabbit babies, a female rabbit, a pregnant rabbit, and a matured male rabbit need specialized care.
Pix. 1. The hutch must be well-ventilated
There are three options you can consider if you want to take care of your rabbit:
- First of all, you may decide to construct a hutch to shelter the animal from the vagaries of the weather, and from reptiles (if you live in an area where they are at risk of being bitten by snakes, for example).
- Secondly, you can keep your rabbit in a wire mesh cage.
- Thirdly, you may leave it to roam about the house.
The Rabbit Hutch
The rabbit hutch:
- Can be constructed with mud-bricks or wood—the material used to construct it depends on the resources available to the person involved.
- Should be constructed in such a way as to prevent reptiles from finding a way into it.
- Should also be able to offer protection to the rabbit when it is raining, or when the sun is shining brightly.
- Must be well-ventilated to allow air circulate properly in the house as well as spacious enough to allow the rabbit to exercise and move around comfortably.
- Should be built in such a way that you can clean it every day.
You may decide to build a cage with wood and wire mesh for the rabbit, or buy a ready-made cage for it. Make sure the holes in the mesh are not so large as to make the rabbit injure itself (its feet can get caught in a large hole), and not so small as to prevent its droppings from passing through.
Not only must the holes of the mesh used to make the cage be the right size, but the cage should also be high enough, at least 500cm, to allow the rabbit to stand on its hind feet, something they love doing a lot.
Leave the Rabbit to Roam
Pix. 2. Unconfined rabbits eating mango leaves
If you live in a place where there is enough security for the rabbit and there is no risk that it may escape, then allow the rabbit to hop around the house freely. It will help the rabbit to get enough exercise—something it cannot do easily if it is confined—which will make it healthy and strong.
Rabbits love to explore and therefore you will have to make sure you remove anything that can harm it, such as sharp metal objects or poisonous chemicals, out of its reach. In addition, if you want to keep it in a farm with young plants, then you have to fence crops such as young plantains, cassava, and yams!
Pix. 3. Carpet grass
The diet of a rabbit consists of leaves and the young shoots of plants and grasses.
- They love the leaves of plantain, pear, mango, and pawpaw plants.
- They eat the leaves of banana crops when plantain leaves are unavailable.
- Dandelion is another type of food they enjoy eating.
- A rabbit will also eat yam peels— in fact they love it very much.
- A rabbit will eat plantain peels when you break it into small pieces.
- You can also feed the rabbit food leftovers such as burnt rice and bread crumbs.
- Cassava is also good for your rabbit if you do not give it too much; it is good to boil it before you give it to the rabbit because boiling reduces the cyanide content in the cassava.
- Groundnuts can provide your rabbit with protein and is one food you must give to your rabbit from time to time.
- Give your rabbit aloe vera and it will thank you!
- Carpet grass is good for a rabbit.
Pix. 4. Plantain leaves
Pix. 5. Give the rabbit clean uncontamintaed water to drink
If you live in a warm climate, or when it is summer, give the rabbit a lot of water to drink. Pour clean, potable water into a clean plate or bowl and place it in its hutch or cage. For those which are allowed to roam about, put the water in a location where it will not be contaminated by dirt and other impurities.
Change the water frequently throughout the day, preferably once in the afternoon, and again in the evening. Furthermore, remember to clean the container before pouring fresh water into it.
How to Take Care of a Female Rabbit
Pix. 6. Mango leaves can supply the Vitamin A needs of your female rabbit
A female rabbit needs a lot of Vitamin A and Vitamin E to make it fertile. Therefore, feed your female rabbit a lot of these Vitamins.
Vitamin A can be found in :
- Plantain leaves.
- Pear leaves.
- Mango leaves.
Vitamin E can be found in:
- Sunflower seeds.
- Wheat germ seeds.
Also, cut the nails of its feet and forelimbs often. In addition, pour a few drops of oil inside its ears and massage, regularly, to prevent ticks from sticking to its ears.
How to Take Care of a Pregnant Rabbit
Pix. 7. A pregnant rabbit
A pregnant rabbit needs a lot of protein. You must therefore give it a lot of alfalfa which is a good source of protein and milk, in addition to leaves very rich in protein such as the leaves of:
- Sprouted beans.
- Yellow corn.
It is also important that you maintain good hygiene where the pregnant rabbit sleeps. Bacteria known as coccidia, which are found in its liver and droppings, can cause it to suffer diarrhea, which can kill it. To prevent this bacteria from harming a pregnant rabbit, add a teaspoon of iodine to 5 liters of its drinking water.
How to Take Care of Rabbit Babies
Rabbit babies need a lot of warmth, especially during the night when temperatures drop. Therefore, make sure you give them adequate protection from the chill of the night by keeping them indoors, or in a sheltered hutch.
Also, a good way to take care of rabbit babies is to feed them with a diet rich in Calcium, which can be found in:
Make sure their droppings are cleaned twice a day, if they are in a hutch, to prevent germs from multiplying and infecting them with diseases. Furthermore, dust their fur with powder frequently to prevent fleas from attacking them.
How to Take Care of a Male Rabbit
Pix. 8. A male rabbit
A male rabbit can become infertile if it does not get enough exercise and consequently grows fat. On the other hand, it can be very virile and fulfill its reproductive responsibilities when it is allowed to jump around from time to time. Therefore, even if you put it in a cage, allow it some freedom from time to time.
The diet of a male rabbit must also be rich in protein. In addition to the protein rich leaves you give it, give it moringa leaves too. Moringa leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals which make a male rabbit very fertile.
Cut overgrown nails and cut its teeth with a wire cutter or pliers to prevent it from scratching you when you try to handle it.
Some Don’ts When You Want to Take Proper Care of a Rabbit
- Rabbits love eating fruits such as pawpaw, mangoes, and carbohydrates such as yams. You must, however, be careful not to give your rabbit too much of it since sugary and starchy foods can change the environment in their gut and cause bad bacteria to grow, which can cause the rabbit to fall sick.
- Don’t give your rabbit old, withered leaves, and moldy grains or groundnuts.
- Don’t give your young rabbits more fiber than your adult rabbits; adult rabbits require more fiber.
- Don’t overfeed your rabbits, especially when they are in a cage or hutch. Give them food only twice day.
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