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Rabbit Information


We recommend that your rabbit is routinely vaccinated against three fatal diseases – Haemorrhagic Viral Disease (HVD) and Myxomatosis. Both can be rapidly fatal in an unvaccinated rabbit and there no cures once infected. Both viruses can be spread by direct contact between rabbits (wild and domesticated) but also via indirect contact with people, clothing, shoes, other objects and fleas.  Myxomatosis is caused by a pox virus which is spread by biting insects, typically the rabbit flea, although the cat flea can also transmit the virus. The disease has been seen in house rabbits that have never been outdoors, so all pet rabbits should be considered to be at risk. Haemorrhagic viral disease (HVD) is another very nasty, often fatal disease. Affected rabbits become severely ill with internal bleeding in lungs, guts and the urinary tract. It is caused by a virus (calici virus) and is very infectious. It affects rabbits over 8 weeks old usually and 70-80% of affected rabbits will become extremely ill within 2-3 days of being exposed to the virus. Signs seen are fever, depression, anorexia, lethargy, and diarrhoea, however these vague signs might not be noticed as the disease can progress very quickly. Nearly all affected rabbits will die suddenly with few clinical signs.

Protection can be achieved by regular vaccination.  We are now able to provide vaccination against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease and Myxomatosis in one single yearly vaccination.

Dental Care

Dental problems are one of the most common conditions that we see in rabbits.  Rabbits teeth grow continuously throughout their life, they are worn down by the action of chewing and grinding their food ready to eat. Dental problems occur when the teeth are not aligned properly (malocclusion) as they do not wear down. Malocclusion can happen to both the front incisors and the back molar teeth. If the incisor teeth do not wear down, they can grow so much that they curl right around into the gums. If the molar teeth do not wear down they develop spurs (spiky projections of teeth) that rub either on the tongue or the cheek, causing soreness and ulceration.

What causes malocclusion?

Malocclusion has three main causes:

1 -A congenital problem

2 – Trauma – this can be due to physical injury or persistent pulling on the hutch wire

3 – Tooth root infections

What are the signs of malocclusion?

Difficulty eating

Reduced appetite


Weight loss


Teeth affected by malocclusion need to be trimmed using a high-speed dental burr, then filed smooth using a special instrument called a rasp.


It is important that your rabbit has access to good quality hay, vegetables and chew sticks.  The chewing action required to eat these foods will help wear the teeth down, thus preventing dental problems occurring.


Many health problems in rabbits are caused by incorrect feeding.  Rabbits have a unique digestive system that has been developed to suit a high fibre, low protein, low energy diet.  Wild rabbits eat mostly grass therefore it is essential that your rabbits diet consists of foods similar to those that they would encounter in the wild. Rabbits need to be fed daily, this involves replacing uneaten food and giving fresh water.  Hay, grass, fresh water, a large selection of fruit and vegetables together with a small amount of quality complete rabbit pellets will provide your rabbit with a healthy and balanced diet.


Castrating males – Male rabbits make responsive pets but can become territorial, aggressive and can frequently spray urine if not castrated.  Neutered males are much happier and more relaxed.  They can enjoy life without having to look for a mate and are much less aggressive and smelly!  Castration can be performed from 12 weeks of age.

Spaying females – Female rabbits can also become territorial or show signs of aggression once they have reached sexual maturity at around 4-6 months of age.  If they are not spayed they can have repeated false pregnancies, become aggressive towards their owners and other rabbits.  Keeping two females together, even if they are sisters, can make things worse.  Spaying female rabbits can also prevent uterine cancer which may increase their life expectancy.  Females can be spayed at about 4 months of age.


Rabbits love being stroked and cuddled and enjoy lots of attention. Handling your rabbit daily from an early age will help to develop a friendly temperament. The safest way to approach a rabbit is to stroke the top of its head, taking care not to make any loud noises or sudden movements which may startle or frighten him. The correct way to pick up a rabbit is to scoop him up with one arm, using your other hand to support the rear quarters. Hold him against your body and use your other arm to restrain him.  This way your rabbit will feel secure and will not resent being picked up or handled.


Flystrike is a distressing and potentially fatal condition seen in rabbits during the warmer months.  It is essential that your rabbit is kept clean, as flies are attracted to faeces, urine and open wounds. Flystrike occurs when fly eggs hatch into maggots which then feed on your rabbit and burrow into the skin.

Taking the following steps to ensure that your rabbit is free from flies can help to prevent flystrike:      

  • Clean the hutch daily, ensuring that you remove all faeces and urine soiled bedding.
  • Put flypaper in and around the run/hutch.
  • Never leave old rotting food either in or near your rabbit’s living quarters.
  • Check your rabbit at least twice daily for signs of matted droppings, fly eggs or maggots.  If faecal material accumulates around his/her bottom remove it carefully and seek veterinary advice.
  • Products can be prescribed to prevent eggs from hatching into maggots and thereby damaging your rabbit. Please ring for further advice.

At the first sign of any maggots contact us immediately as any delay in treatment can be fatal for your rabbit.