Guide to Dwarf Rabbit Care

Buying & equipment

Rabbits are good-natured pets that are generally easy to care for and appreciate the company of other rabbits. There are, however, some things that you need to do before buying a rabbit. To ensure that your new pets have a long and happy life, it is important to ensure that they can move into a well-equipped environment. 

Checklist for initial equipment:

  • A sufficiently large rabbit hutch
  • A sturdy, washable feeding dish, e.g. a dish made from glazed ceramic
  • Hayrack for daily hay requirements
  • Hay, e.g. Vita Verde® 
  • Water bottle with fresh water or VITA Fit® Aqua drink
  • Sleeping box for sleeping and resting 
  • Soft, absorbent litter e.g. Comfort Classic made from woodchips or Farmer´s straw litter made from pelleted straw 
  • Saltlicks to provide important minerals and trace elements, e.g. VITA Fit® Sel-plus
  • Main food, e.g. Vitakraft Menu Vital
  • Vitakraft Kräcker® sticks to keep your pet busy and wear down its teeth

Tips for buying rabbits 

Rabbits can be bought from almost any pet shop or directly from a breeder. You can find the addresses of breeders from rabbit breeding associations, which have branches in most towns and cities. Animal rescue centres also often have rabbits looking for a new home.

When buying a rabbit, make sure that it is at least 7–8 weeks old. And remember, rabbits are social animals that enjoy the company of other rabbits.

Signs of a healthy rabbit:

  • Lively, alert behaviour 
  • A thick coat 
  • Clear, bright eyes 
  • A dry nose 
  • Clean ears 
  • A clean behind

The right spot for your rabbit hutch 

Rabbit hutches are best placed in a bright and quiet corner of the room. Avoid direct sunlight and draughts as these can be dangerous to your rabbit's health. Since rabbits' ears are more sensitive than ours and they can hear frequencies that we cannot, you should not place the rabbit hutch near a television or similar device.

In summer, rabbits also enjoy living in a safe outdoor enclosure on a balcony with a sunshade or in a shady spot in the garden. To protect them against inquisitive cats, the enclosure should be covered with chicken wire. The bottom of the enclosure must also be secured – don't forget that rabbits like burrowing!

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Caring for your pet

Exercise is fun 

Rabbits like to exercise and need enough room to move around and play in their hutch. Your rabbit hutch should therefore be big enough for them to jump around a little and stand up on their hind legs. To keep your rabbit happy and healthy, it is also important to let it out of the hutch each day: rabbits enjoy nothing more than running and jumping around in a secure garden or inside the house. And it also gives them lots to explore and discover, so be sure to pay close attention while they are out and about. 

Cleaning the rabbit hutch

Depending on the size of the hutch and the number of animals, you will need to remove all litter once or twice each week, clean the toilet corner using a damp cloth and then spread new litter around the floor. The food dish and water bottle need to be rinsed out regularly using hot water. The hutch also needs a thorough clean once every month: rinse the entire cage and grille in the bath using warm water. However, you must never use strong household detergents!

Grooming and health

Rabbits are generally very clean and keep their fur clean themselves. You therefore do not need to spend a large amount of time on grooming:

Fur

When your rabbit is moulting in spring and autumn, you should groom it using a brush that is not too hard and carefully pick out loose fur. However, you should never bath or shower your rabbit as this could be detrimental to its health. Long-haired rabbits need brushing on a regular basis and angora rabbits also need to have their fur clipped.

Claws and teeth

Most rabbits kept indoors need to have their claws clipped from time to time. You must take great care when doing this because the claws contain nerve endings and blood vessels that must not be harmed. Your pet shop or vet can advise you on how to clip claws correctly. You should also check your rabbit's teeth on occasion and consult your vet if you spot any problems.

Diet

The perfect diet

Rabbits originate from the "green lands" of southern Europe. Here, these herbivorous animals enjoyed a rich diet of seeds, different grasses, herbs, fruits and berries.

To ensure that your rabbits are content and remain fit and healthy, they need food that has been designed to meet their specific dietary requirements. 

The Vitakraft approach to nutrition ensures that our products are optimally tailored to meet the physiological dietary requirements of rabbits: they contain precisely the right amounts of nutrients and other beneficial ingredients to ensure that your pets have a long and healthy life. In the case of rabbits, our products provide a high fibre content, minerals, fruit, green fodder and vitamins. And, of course, they also taste great! The wide range of different Vitakraft products also ensures that you can provide your pets with an interesting and varied diet.

Food types:

Main food:
A main food such as Menu Vital covers your rabbit's basic nutritional requirements

Roughage:
Roughage has a high fibre content, which is essential for healthy digestion in rabbits. Since fibre requires a great deal of chewing, it also cares for teeth and keeps rabbits occupied. Roughage foods include for example Vita Verde® Alpine meadow hay or Vita Verde® Nature plus hay mixes with dandelion or chamomile.

Kräcker®: 
These tasty nibble sticks have a number of different functions. Rabbits have to work to get food just like in the wild, which keeps them busy and is good for preventing boredom. Nibbling on the hard Kräcker® sticks also wears down their constantly growing teeth and helps keep them healthy.

Treats: 
Snacks such as Drops are primarily a form of reward, although they also help to tame your pet and create a bond

Nutritional supplements: 
Pet food supplements, such as VITA Fit® Vitamine C drops oder VITA Fit® C-forte help to keep your pet strong and healthy. They meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or during pregnancy. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips: 

  • Provide small portions of food several times a day
  • Provide a varied diet 
  • Place fresh hay in the hayrack each day
  • Make sure that the animal has access to fresh water or VITA Fit® Aqua drink at all times 
  • Provide succulent food such as vegetables, herbs or fruit each day. Rabbits love carrots, carrot tops, dandelions and bell pepper in particular 
  • Remove succulent food that has started to wilt 
  • Provide something to gnaw on at all times, e.g. Kräcker®, sticks to ensure healthy teeth, as well as lots of hay

Behaviour & familiarisation

Behaviour

It's no surprise that rabbits are such popular pets. Not only are they cute, they are also highly intelligent, active pets, and can establish close bonds with their owners. Once they have settled in, they will happily curl up on your lap for a gentle stroke. 

However, you should also remember that the wild ancestors of pet rabbits used to live in large colonies. Your rabbit will therefore be at its most content if kept together with others of its species.

The first hours in your rabbit's new home

Your rabbit's hutch should be set up properly before it arrives home. For the first few days in particular, try not to disturb your rabbit if at all possible so that it can get used to its new surroundings in peace. If you have two rabbits that need to get to know each other, take things carefully and keep a close eye on them as they start to make friends. 

How to tame your rabbit 

Rabbits are sociable by nature and will easily start to trust you. With a little patience, you will soon have a close bond with your pet. From the outset, you should use a quiet, friendly tone to speak with your rabbit and call it by name. Once the rabbit has settled in after a few days, you can gradually get it used to your hand. The best way to do this is by providing a tasty treat such as Vitakraft Drops. This allows the rabbit to get used to the smell of your hand and soon it will be happy to let you stroke it.

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