Fancy (pet) rabbit
Lapin (French), Coniglio (Italian), Conejo (Spanish)
Species: orictolagus cuniculus
Most pet rabbits appeared as a result of selective breeding, so they live at people’s homes, mini zoos and in farms. Their common ancestor is the European (common) rabbit that occurs in all continents except for Antarctic. But each fancy breed has its own homeland – the country where it was bred. It is considered that pet rabbits appeared in the Middle Ages. That’s when the sensible selective breeding started in order to develop certain traits.
Many different breeds of pet rabbits exist, and there are many different descriptions of them. Names of these breeds normally say a lot about them. The Angora rabbits have very soft, long and fluffy coat; lop rabbits have long funny ears, dwarf rabbits are small etc. The range of color morphs is extremely wide.
There are giant rabbits that weigh up to 5-8 kg and mini rabbits that weigh a bit over 1 kg. pet rabbits remind if a hare with shorter ears and stronger hind legs. All the rabbits have small compact bodies and round heads. An adult rabbit has 28 teeth; powerful incisors are located in the front, they don’t have roots and grow during the entire lifetime of the rabbit. In the wild rabbits grind their teeth naturally, you should provide your pet with a chance to do it in captivity too.
Pet rabbits normally are very active and playful. Each animal has its own personality; it is important to take good care of them and train to do things.
There are standard rules for rabbit husbandry. The cage has to be at least four times bigger than the animal itself and it should have solid bottom – wire bottom will injure the animal’s small feet. For bedding you can use wood cuttings or straw. Pet rabbits can be litter box trained; just show some patience and soon your pet will find its toilet even if it plays outside the cage.
A pet water bottle and a heavy food bowl are necessary too.
Pet rabbits should be let out of the cage at least for half an hour every day: they are prone to obesity and they need physical activities. You can walk your pet rabbit outdoors in special harness.
Those who have had a pet rabbit, have noticed that they eat almost constantly. So it is important that your rabbit always has fresh hay: it is the staple of their diet, they need to eat it every day. Pet rabbits eat the same food as usual rabbits: rich in fiber. They can eat various greens and plants that can be found in any garden: dandelion, plantain, wormwood, coltsfoot, mint, dill etc. Rabbits’ love for vegetables is not a stereotype: they should eat cabbage, сarrots etc. Pet stores offer a wide range of commercial dry mixes, but they shouldn’t be the only food of your rabbit; alternate it with other types of food. It is recommended to put a mineral block in the cage for your pet to gnaw on and to get necessary minerals. Fresh clean water is a must: rabbits drink a lot.
Rabbits are prone to obesity. They breed often. You should always observe them when they are out of their cage since they tend to gnaw on furniture and other things.
Lately most pet rabbits get sprayed. There are different opinions regarding the use of this procedure, but most breeders say it has positive effect on the rabbits’ health. If your pet rabbit has been sprayed, it needs special diet and physical activity, since those animals are prone to obesity and lethargy. Before taking a decision, consult your vet.
The most common diseases in rabbits are stomatitis, rhinitis, myxomatosis, stomach bloat, diarrhea, rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease.