Just like any other pet, a Lop rabbit needs to be well taken care of and raised. These rodents need a lot of attention and a safe environment to lead happy and healthy lives. As they are very sociable, they love the company of other rabbits, and it is recommended that you have more than one. If you try hard and offer everything the pet needs, it will certainly be very happy in your family.
It is important to neuter animals before introducing them to the same home, and know that you will need dedication and patience to make them like each other. Be careful and don't leave the two together alone right away, as they can end up fighting pretty ugly.
Part 1 of 4: Creating the Perfect Space
Step 1. Think carefully before buying or adopting a rabbit
Yes, it's tempting to take this pet home as it's so cute. Remember, however, that this is a life and you need to think carefully about whether this is the best option for you. There are about 19 different species of Lop rabbits, all with their ears drooping over their faces, and each has its own characteristics.
- The English Lop Rabbit and the Miniature Lop are very popular pets.
- Look for a local breeder, an NGO or a pet shop to find out more about the animals.
- Understand that rabbits live for 9 to 11 years and need attention and care for all that time. These pets are active and need space.
Step 2. Be aware of expenses
Before you go ahead and buy or adopt a rabbit, assess whether it is capable of keeping the pet. The value varies a lot, ranging from R$ 60 to R$ 400. In addition to spending on the purchase of the pet, you will need to buy a cage, a transport box and a sandbox just to get started.
- You'll spend a few hundred dollars a year on rabbit food, snacks and toys.
- Also, take into account veterinary expenses. As caring for rodents is a specialized field and many veterinarians are unaware of it, you should look for a professional who works in this area, which is usually expensive. If the pet is not neutered, you will need to request this procedure, which is also expensive and needs specialized professionals. Also be prepared to spend money on emergencies such as accidents and illness. Because rabbits hide their symptoms, problems are likely to be noticed late, making treatments more complex.
- You will also need to spend a few hundred dollars a year on sand for your pet's needs.
Step 3. Buy a suitable cage for the animal or adapt your house to let it loose
Rabbits are quite small, but they are active and strong, with hind legs evolved to run and jump. Therefore, they need a lot of space to move around, and the play space of an average rabbit should be at least 1.2 m x 1.8 m.
Don't buy a wire cage. If this is the only option available in your area, cover the floor with cardboard, wood or enough lining to protect the rabbits' paws. As their feet are very delicate, they can become inflamed and infected by stepping on the wire
Step 4. Keep the bunny indoors
As much as many people raise rabbits in backyard burrows, professionals recommend that they stay inside. When away from home, he will hide and not socialize much, in addition to being exposed to possible predators. Even in the den, the rabbit can die of a heart attack from a predator attack.
- When raised at home, the rabbit will be able to interact more with its family.
- A protected environment in which your pet can run around all day is extremely beneficial to its well-being.
Step 5. Buy a large litter box
In addition to the cage, if you're going to let the rabbit out, you'll need to teach him to do his needs in the right place. This training is usually only successful after the animal has been neutered and is very important for the animal's hygiene.
Part 2 of 4: Feeding the Rabbit
Step 1. Make hay freely available to the rabbit
Hay and grass are the most important elements of this rodent's diet, as it is a species that lives in natural pastures. So let him have something to graze day and night to keep his digestive system working properly. As a responsible owner, your role is to make hay available at all times.
- The rabbit must eat a bundle of hay the same size as its body daily.
- Spread the hay around the burrow and the overall cage. Rabbits love to graze on hay while they rest, and spreading it out in this way encourages this behavior.
- Rabbits tend to graze more often at dawn and dusk.
Step 2. Provide fresh water at all times
It is important to check the pet's water twice a day, filling the container as needed. If the rabbit is outdoors, it is important to keep an eye, especially if it is very hot, as the liquid can evaporate. Lack of hydration can do a lot of harm to your pet. Drinking fountain or water container, whatever, the important thing is that it has water.
- Drinking from a bowl is usually more natural and preferred for most rabbits. The downside of this option is that it's pretty easy for the bowl to get dirty quickly.
- If possible, keep an eye on the amount of water you drink, as a very sudden change could indicate a health problem.
Step 3. Provide dry food frequently
The rabbit should follow a diet that combines quality dry food (usually feed), fresh hay, oat hay, fresh vegetables and water. Follow the feed manufacturers' consumption instructions, but it is important not to keep the pot always full, as the rabbit may end up consuming insufficient amounts of hay.
- Look for rations made up of 15-19% protein and 18% fiber.
- The amount of food needed is highly dependent on the age of the rabbit. After six months, he will be an adult and should not consume more than 1/8 or 1/4 cup a day for every 2.5 kg of body weight.
Step 4. Serve fresh food
Leafy green vegetables should make up about 1/3 of the rabbit's diet. He will like many vegetables, such as red lettuce, kale, green turnip and carrot stalks. The amount of food depends on the size and age of the animal. As a basic guide, it is recommended to offer two cups of vegetables for every 3 kg of the animal's body weight, daily.
- Fresh herbs are also excellent foods.
- Always wash and sanitize everything before serving to the rabbit.
Step 5. Offer snacks occasionally
Want to pamper the pet a little? Offer a piece of fruit or a root. As these foods are not natural to the rabbit, it is important to serve them sparingly. Avoid things other than fruits and vegetable roots, so you don't run the risk of harming the animal. Strawberry, pineapple, apple, raspberry and pear are some good options.
- Do not give more than two tablespoons full of snacks for every 2 kg of body weight of the animal. If giving sliced bananas, do it well occasionally.
- Do not feed apple and pear seeds to the rabbit, as they are toxic.
- Some common plants, such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes, are also toxic to rabbits.
- Never give anything containing chocolate, caffeine, bread or grapes to the rabbit.
Part 3 of 4: Keeping the bunny happy
Step 1. Keep him company
Rabbits are animals that must live at least in pairs, as they are sociable animals that enjoy company. It's important that the two rodents get along well, however. Bet on a couple of the same size and of the same race, both neutered. If the rabbit is left alone for a long time, it can develop abnormal behavior.
- If possible, let the rabbit choose its mate. Some animal rescue NGOs allow you to introduce your pet to other rabbits before adopting.
- To create a bond between the animals, place them in a neutral space, with toys and treats, so that their meeting is fun. Watch them carefully and see how they behave.
Step 2. Offer lots of toys and things to chew
It is important that the pet always have safe objects to chew on, such as cardboard boxes and old telephone directories. If you like, give him an old cotton towel, as long as he doesn't mind it being destroyed.
Step 3. Provide spaces for digging
In addition to being good rodents, rabbits are animals that love to dig, as this is part of their nature. Your role, therefore, is to let him do this. Your pet won't dig the floor at home, rest assured, but you can encourage this natural behavior with a digging box - just provide a cardboard box full of shredded paper for the pet.
If you don't mind the mess, you can put a box of dirt in his space
Step 4. Create a playhouse
Rabbits need a hiding place, a safe place to escape to if they are afraid. Don't worry, this behavior is normal and helps fight stress. It is important that the hideout has two entrances and exits and is high enough for the pet to run underneath.
- You must have at least one hiding place per rabbit.
- If you have more than one rabbit, make a hideout big enough for them to hide together.
- As the rabbit is prey in nature, it needs to be able to hide from the sight and scent of predators.
- The rabbit is safe at home, but the hiding place is still necessary for its well-being.
Step 5. Allow him time and space to run
Take the rabbit out of its cage daily and let it get some exercise running around. These animals are very active and need frequent exercise, preferably in a large space. They are most active in the morning, late afternoon and evening, times when they like to graze and socialize.
- Control the environment in which you will release the pet, removing all dangerous objects out of the way.
- Rabbits need to exercise for several hours a day.
Step 6. Interact with the rabbit daily
As these pets are very sociable, it's important to spend time with them, reinforcing the bond you have. Set aside a little time every day to enjoy with the pet, even if it's sitting on the floor while it runs around the room. If you want to watch TV, how about staying with him on the couch for a while?
Step 7. Learn to handle the rabbit
These rodents need to be handled very carefully. Slowly move close to him and bend down to interact with him. If the animal feels comfortable being handled by you, slide one hand under its ribs and gently lift it up, supporting its hind legs with the other hand. Slowly bring it up to your chest and hold it firmly, always supporting the pet's back. To make him feel more secure, hold all of his paws against your body.
- Start handling the rabbit early, to get him used to contact. If you have an adopted rabbit that is not used to human touch, be aware that he may find this uncomfortable. Respect him and let him control the timing of interactions.
- Never pull a rabbit by the ears. Also, do not let children be alone with the animal.
Part 4 of 4: Keeping your rabbit healthy and hygienic
Step 1. Clean the rabbit's cage and litter box
It is important to clean your pet's house frequently, creating a clean and organized environment for him. It's a good idea to remove and replace dirty sand every day, as this process doesn't take too long. Also, do a more extensive cleaning weekly.
- Once a month, or every two weeks (if necessary), thoroughly clean the cage by scrubbing it well and letting it dry.
- Only return the rabbits to the cage when it is completely dry.
Step 2. Take care of the pet's hygiene
Brush his fur often, using a soft brush to remove excess hair. It's normal for his fur to come loose and form knots, causing sores when not properly cared for. Regular brushing should keep the coat in top condition. Remember to always go from the neck to the tail, in the direction of hair growth.
- Brush it carefully and patiently, as not all pets get used to this touch.
- It's also possible to trim his claws, but it's a good idea to talk to a trusted veterinarian before doing so.
Step 3. Bathe the rabbit only when needed
This type of cleaning should only be done if the animal is very dirty and cannot clean itself. Use a shampoo developed for rabbits and wash the animal in a container in which it can fit and have a foot, always with warm water. The biggest risk involved in the situation is for him to get scared and try to run away, which can cause accidents.
- Another option is to clean it with a little non-asbestos talcum powder. Just throw the powder in the fur and brush it with a fine-tooth comb.
- Instead of soaking him in water, run a towel dampened in warm water over his fur, without getting his skin wet.
- Dry the pet with a hair dryer on the lowest setting, always handling the pet calmly and carefully.
Step 4. Know when to take him to the vet
Professionals recommend doing an annual check-up with the rabbit, for life. Watch the pet between check-ups and look out for signs of health problems. If you think he's sick or there's something wrong, make an appointment and take him to the vet. Some important symptoms to look out for:
- The rabbit stops eating.
- The rabbit does not defecate for 12 hours or more.
- Very liquid diarrhea.
- Discharge in muzzle and eyes.
- Dark red urine.
- Hair loss, swelling and redness of the skin.
- Timothy hay and feed are usually better for Lop rabbits than alfalfa.
- Alfalfa hay and feed are only suitable for puppies and rabbits raised for human consumption. Other varieties include oats, bromus and orchard grass.
- Cuddle the pet around its ears.
- Lop rabbits cannot cope well in hot weather. So leave his cage indoors.
- Keep food and water available for the pet at all times, as they love to eat.
- It is a good idea to serve water with cucumber pieces to the rabbit.
- Never serve human food or food that is unsuitable for rabbits. These rodents have a very delicate digestive tract and get sick easily, and may even die when eating something inappropriate. Feed your rabbit only safe food.
- Take a sick bunny to the vet immediately. These animals are natural prey and often hide health problems. If you identify a problem, it is because it is serious.
- Always supervise the pet if you leave it out in the open.
- Rabbits love to chew on things, so give your pet things to chew, like cardboard, non-toxic wood blocks, etc. Remember to always protect the places where he will be staying by getting electrical wires and dangerous things out of the way, as he could end up gnawing at everything.
- Processed human foods should not be fed to rabbits.
- Always catch the rabbit by supporting its hind legs. If you don't, they could end up kicking back and injuring your spine.