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Making sure rabbits don’t get a raw deal

Rachael Duke and Jane O'Connor with Pepper and George

Rachael Duke and Jane O'Connor with Pepper and George

  • by Jackie Turley
 

The ManxSPCA and veterinary practices across the island are supporting Rabbit Awareness Week ‘because rabbits get a raw deal’.

The furry creatures are the third most popular pet to be either bought or adopted in the British Isles and are the most mistreated.

Rabbit Awareness Week runs until Sunday, and the aim is to promote how best to care for the animals.

Jane O’Connor, who is head of the Small Animal Unit at Ard Jerkyll, said: ‘We are trying to get people to do their homework before getting a rabbit.

‘People need to do their research and make sure they have the time and money to care for them.

‘But the rewards of keeping rabbits are brilliant. They are such characters and can be so cheeky.’

She said that while rabbits are often considered as children’s pets, this was not advisable.

‘They don’t like being picked up,’ Jane said.

‘When you do, you have to be careful because you can break their back by not handling them correctly.’

This week, two of the rabbits waiting to be rehomed – Pepper and George – will be in Ard Jerkyll’s reception area during the afternoon.

And staff will be on hand to ask all visitors’ questions on keeping rabbits.

Meanwhile Milan Veterinary Practices in Douglas, Castletown and Peel are giving free rabbit health checks and rabbit health certificates until Sunday, as well as 10 per cent off vaccinations against myxomatosis and haemorrhagic viral disease.

It is also offering free information packs.

Call the practices to make an appointment.

Diet:

• Hay should make up 80 per cent of a rabbit’s diet.

• Muesli-style foods should be avoided as rabbits will selectively feed. Instead they should have pellets.

• Carrots are high in sugar so should only be given as an occasional treat. Iceberg lettuce is poisonous.

Social:

• Rabbits are incredibly social animals and can suffer if left without appropriate company and things to do.

• They are happiest when kept with another friendly rabbit.

Environment:

• Their hutch should be big enough to allow at least three continuous hops from one end to the other.

• It should be tall enough for them to sit (and ideally stand) up on their back legs without their ears touching the roof.

• The run should permanently attach to the hutch, and at a minimum, should be big enough for the rabbit to hop across three times.

• Preferably, the run should be placed in the garden so the rabbits can enjoy the grass.

• Make sure the run is secure from predators, is escape-proof, and its run is covered.

 

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