If you have any other questions or concerns after adoption, please call us on 09 256 7300 and ask to speak to a member of our friendly Customer Service team who will be happy to assist.
You will need some basic supplies before bringing your new rabbit home. Many of these items can be purchased in the SPCA Auckland shop.
When you buy from the SPCA, you receive quality products and expert advice. You also help other animals in need as all revenue directly supports the SPCA.
Getting a new rabbit is exciting. Please don’t be tempted to open the rabbit carrier on the journey home or try to play with your rabbit in the car. The rabbit may be scared and unpredictable in the car and may try to escape. It’s safer to wait until you get home.
Rabbits can live happily either indoors or outdoors.
Your rabbit will need a roomy hutch and an exercise run that will allow them to stand up fully on their hind legs, plus allow plenty of room to hop around. Place the hutch facing the morning sun. Make sure the rabbit has access to shade during the summer and is protected from the rain and wind during the winter. Rabbits need lots of exercise and companionship. A hutch and exercise run is not enough – they also need time outside their pen every day as well as social time with you.
You can litter train rabbits (see information below), and they can live inside with you as part of the family.
Rabbits are naturally sociable animals and enjoy lots of attention and company. But it might take your new rabbit a little while to get used to you and their new home. Remember, too, that in the wild rabbits can be attacked by predators, so they are naturally fearful of a sudden approach, especially from above.
Litter trays must be changed daily or twice daily. If you have two rabbits, provide each with their own tray.
Hay and grass should form the basis (80%) of your rabbit’s diet. The remainder of your rabbit’s diet should be fresh vegetables (15%) and a small amount of pellets (around 5%).
While most fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit are suitable for your rabbit, there are some foods to avoid altogether:
If you don’t know what it is or whether it is safe, don’t feed it to your pet!
If your rabbit has a healthy diet, lots of exercise and gets a lot of attention it should live a happy and healthy life. However, things can go wrong and if you are ever in doubt you should talk to your vet.
Rabbits are good at hiding their symptoms as a sick rabbit in the wild is easy prey. Pay close attention to your rabbit’s appearance and behaviour – sometimes a rabbit that just looks a bit down is actually a sick rabbit. Handle and check your rabbit daily.
You should check:
A healthy rabbit should be slim and sleek. You should be able to feel (but not see) their ribs just under the skin without a thick layer of fat. A monthly weigh-in is a good idea. Any sudden decrease in weight is likely to be health-related and you should take your rabbit to the vet. An overweight rabbit is likely to suffer from ongoing health issues so it is important not to overfeed your rabbit.
These should be clear, clean and bright looking with no discharge. If your rabbit is shaking their head a lot and scratching around the ears, this could be a sign of ear mites and they will need to see a vet.
The coat should be shiny, flat and smooth. Dandruff most likely means your rabbit has mites, which will require vet treatment. Rabbits can also get fleas – your vet or the SPCA can advise a safe flea treatment for rabbits. Brush your rabbit with a soft brush to keep the coat looking nice and healthy. Angora and cashmere rabbits need a lot more grooming than other breeds. Your rabbit will moult a few times a year and will require brushing – they may look quite scruffy at this time.
Rabbits have two sorts of droppings – hard fibrous pellets and soft green caecotropes. Rabbits will reingest their caecotropes but usually do this at night in private. This is a normal and important part of a rabbit’s digestion and does not indicate ill health.
Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their lives and dental problems are common. Make sure you provide your rabbits with adequate chewing material. Branches from trees such as willow, apple, pear, poplar and citrus, or other untreated wood treats, will keep their teeth worn down. Avoid trees which have been chemically treated or are close to sources of pollution. Any reluctance to eat or drooling may indicate a dental problem that should be checked out by a vet.
Calici Virus is now present in New Zealand and is fatal. Most rabbits don’t show a lot of symptoms and can die within a few hours. A vaccine is available from vets but ring around first as prices differ.
Rabbits’ nails need clipping regularly (about once every six to eight weeks). Ask your vet to show you how, as you can easily cut through the blood vessel. A paving stone or a flat river stone placed in an area your rabbit regularly travels over may help reduce the need to trim nails as often.
A happy rabbit will be a healthier rabbit. In the wild a rabbit will live with other rabbits and have a home range of around two hectares. By keeping a rabbit in a hutch or your home you are taking away some of their natural instincts and pleasures. To compensate, spend time with your rabbit as often as possible and create a space where they can munch on grass, run around and dig to their heart’s content.
Rabbits need lots of play and enrichment to stave off boredom and for physical and mental health. Use your imagination when enriching your rabbit’s environment. Just ensure everything is safe, non-toxic and unable to cause injury.
Many people have great success in training their rabbit to do all types of tricks – fetch, sit, roll over, or even jump through hoops. You can also buy a rabbit harness and lead and train your rabbit to use this, which can be useful in keeping your rabbit safe when in unsecured outdoor areas.
Toys are a fantastic way for you to interact with your rabbit. Toss a ball and get them to toss it back before feeding. They will also appreciate having toys to play with purely by themselves. Rabbits love to investigate, push, pull and play with toys. Alternate toys regularly to keep them interested.
Remember to let them destroy these toys if they want to – that is part of the fun!
Rabbits are naturally outdoor animals and they will love the chance to kick up their heels in their own exercise area.
Ensure you are monitoring playtime to protect your pet from:
Rabbits are very sociable and often crave the companionship of their own kind. Having a bonded pair is often a recipe for happiness, especially if you cannot spend much time with your rabbit.
These websites hold all sorts of information on caring for your new rabbit. The more you know, the more you can enrich your rabbit’s life. Some sites may have slightly differing information so use your discretion.
Note: We have provided these websites as a helpful guide only. We are not contributors and take no responsibility for any of the information on these sites.