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The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Rabbits

Keep Your Pets’ Run Tidy and Hygienic With 50% Off Caddi Treat Holders

Ever cleaned your pets’ run and found old bits of mouldy cabbage or soggy feed that is nearly impossible to pick out of the grass? There is an easy way of keeping your pets’ treats fresh for longer, while also improving run cleanliness AND keeping your animals entertained! 

The Caddi can be hung at any height from all pet runs, trees or other structures in your garden. It’s super easy to fill with whatever you want to give your pets, be it bits of fruit, fresh hay or Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls.

At the moment you will get 50% off Caddi Treat Holders for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter. Take this opportunity to make your pets’ run funner and more hygienic than ever before!


4 reasons Caddi will improve your pets’ run:

  • Improves run cleanliness 

All pets will be happier if their living quarters are tidy and clean, but it’s also important for their health that both their coop or hutch and run are kept hygienic. Mouldy food left on the damp ground can make a chicken, rabbit or guinea pig very ill, so having a Caddi to keep it in will make it much easier for you to spot anything that’s gone off, and to remove it in a second.

  • Reduces food waste

Food, treats or hay that is left on the ground on the run will go off very quickly, especially at this time of year when temperatures can vary dramatically between day and night and there is likely to be more rainy days. With the Caddi, the treats you leave your pets will keep fresher for longer as they won’t come into contact with the wet ground. They will also be kept dryer thanks to the waterproof top.

  • Keeps pests away

The end of summer means that there will be less food available for wild animals like rodents and small birds, and they are likely to approach your garden and your pets’ home in search for tasty morsels. By putting feed, hay or vegetables in the Caddi rather than scattering on the ground, you are making things more difficult for uninvited visitors!

  • Yummier tasting treats

As the treats, veg or hay you are giving your pets are kept contained in one place and won’t get stepped on by muddy feet, they will be crunchier, cleaner and better tasting. As the swinging motion of the Caddi offers stimulation and entertainment, your pets will truly enjoy snacktime!


A GIF of a guinea pig eating greens from a Caddi Treat Holder

Buy now and get 50% off when you sign up for the Omlet newsletter!

Terms and conditions:
This promotion is only valid from 28/09/21 – midnight on 03/10/21. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs, Twin Pack with Peck Toys or packs with Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Excludes all other chicken accessories. Offer is limited to 2 Caddis per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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This entry was posted in Chickens


How to Choose the Right Rabbit Breed for You

fluffy tan rabbit breed nibbling on a stick
white and brown rabbit breed with ears lifted

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

If you have done your research and decided that a rabbit is the pet for you, you now have the task ahead of choosing which rabbit breed you would like to get. There are lots of wonderful breeds to choose from, and they all have their own specific features and characteristics. To help you pick the right rabbit for you and your family, we’ve put together a list of things to think about:

Size

Rabbit breeds differ in size, from small Netherland Dwarfs to large Flemish Giants. Smaller breeds tend to be more skittish and nervous, whereas larger rabbits are generally more gentle and less aggressive. 

Larger rabbits will naturally need more food, and more space. But don’t think that small rabbits will be fine with limited space, often littler bunnies run around a lot more as they have more energy. 

Child-friendly rabbit breeds

While young children should never be given the main responsibility of looking after a rabbit, if you have children in the family it’s good to find a breed that is generally happy to be touched and handled. 

A lot comes down to personality, but there are some breeds that are known to get along well with children, like French Lops and Dutch Rabbits. 

Reason for getting a rabbit

Think about why you are getting a rabbit, and what is important to you in a pet. Are you happy to just watch them enjoy themselves in the garden, or would you really like to have a rabbit that is sociable and wants to come to you for cuddles? Would you like to breed for your bunny, or show it off in rabbit shows? 

Looks

Rabbits come with various fur lengths, colours, ear types and builds. You probably have an idea of what you would like your pet rabbit to look like, but it’s worth exploring a few different breeds to see what’s out there. 

It’s important to remember that different breeds require different amounts of grooming and looking after. Long fur, like that of the Angora rabbits, will for example need brushing daily or a few times a week, so you will need to consider if that is something you will be happy to do. 

Meet the rabbit in person

While rabbit breeds have characteristic features and temperaments, a lot also comes down to breeding and personality. If possible, try to go and see the breeder or person you are buying your rabbit from, or the center where you’re adopting from. 

If your rabbit is still small, watch how they interact with their surroundings and siblings, and if possible, see what the mother is like. Make sure the rabbit doesn’t have any obvious health problems, and try to get a feel for its temperament. If it’s important for you that the rabbit is happy to be picked up, make sure they have been around humans from the start and have regularly been handled. 

lop eared rabbit breed walking on grass

Photo by Cameron Barnes on Unsplash

Genetics

Read up on specific breeds’ susceptibility to different health problems. Some breeds tend to have a higher risk of developing problems with their jaws, others with joints, or ear mites. With good care the absolute majority of rabbits will be happy and healthy, but it’s a good idea to research problems in order to prevent them.

The expected lifespan also differs somewhat between breeds. The majority of rabbits live between 5-8 years, but some breeds are known to often live for over 10 years. This is obviously a bigger commitment, so it’s worth thinking about.


Consider these things when choosing a pet rabbit. If you know what you want, here are some of our suggestions:

You want a gentle family bunny that is good with children

You have had rabbits before and want something special

You want to keep your pet rabbit indoors

You want an intelligent rabbit that is very energetic and playful

You want a really fluffy and cuddly rabbit

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This entry was posted in Rabbits


How to Tell if Your Rabbit Is Happy

A brown rabbit eating from a treat holder in a run

Estimates of the world’s domestic rabbit population vary wildly between 15 million and over 700 million. People have kept rabbits for hundreds of years, and traditionally they were farmed as a plentiful resource – after all, they do breed like rabbits! The larger population estimate includes all the rabbits that are still kept for meat and fur.


With this many rabbit owners around the world, and with the bunny’s rather inscrutable facial expression, it comes as no surprise that the question “is my rabbit happy?” has been asked more than a few times by anxious rabbit keepers.

There are several ways of telling whether your furry friend is content and happy, most of them centring on body language.

Happy bunny body language

Body language is the key way of telling how your rabbit is feeling. Simply by spending time with your bunny, you will learn some of the basic messages that tell you if they are happy and relaxed, or stressed.

These are some of the signs of a rabbit’s mood.

  • Twitching nose. Rabbits are constantly twitching their noses. Not only does this help them sniff the air around them, it also eases their breathing, regulates their body temperature and helps them relax. A contented rabbit will do a lot more nose-twitching than a stressed rabbit, so if you notice that your rabbit hasn’t twitched its nose in a while, there may be something distressing it.
  • Chilling out. Another easy-to-spot sign of a happy rabbit is an overall relaxed body. Chilled bunnies will lie quietly, ears erect (unless their flop-eared bunnies), sometimes with their legs stretched out, noses twitching contentedly.
  • Crouching. Like us, when a rabbit is stressed, its muscles become tense as its fight-or-flight instincts activate and its body floods with adrenaline. If the bunny is in a crouching position, ears flat, pupils dilated, it is anxious, stressed or afraid. The cause could be another pet, a scary noise, or even a whiff of something unfamiliar in the air. This behaviour is common in rabbits who have not been hand-tamed from a young age. Conversely, if your rabbit is chilled out, lounging in the hay and not tensed up in any way, you can be sure that they are content.
  • Hopping. When most people picture a rabbit, they imagine a cute creature hopping around. Rabbits have evolved to be great jumpers, with very strong back legs to help propel them at high speeds. Hopping not only acts as a great escape mechanism, it also assists rabbits in their play. Bunnies like to hop around when they are feeling happy and mischievous. Your rabbits may perform the occasional playful leap in their enclosures, jumping in the air, twisting their bodies a little and then landing again, alert and playful. A rabbit showing this type of behaviour is very happy with life. A bunny who is gently hopping around and exploring the world around them is also feeling playful and happy.
  • Running. A rabbit who darts for cover, usually stamping its back legs on the ground first, is not a happy bunny. Something has startled your poor pet, and the best thing to do is let it recover its composure and confidence in a safe area – usually a quiet corner of the hutch. A quick run to another spot, with ears flat, can also be a sign of anger.
  • Curiosity. Rabbits are naturally nervous and will only let their curiosity take the lead when they feel safe. In the wild, rabbits are at the bottom of the food chain, a source of food for many predators. Because of this, rabbits are naturally jumpy (pun intended) and on edge. Domestic rabbits are calmer than their wild relatives but still retain their natural wariness.

Angry bunny body language

These physical clues tell you that your bunny isn’t chilled or afraid – it’s hopping mad!

  • Sitting, front legs raised. If your rabbit sits up, front paws raised and flicking in and out as if trying to punch something, it means the bunny is angry – no matter how cute the behaviour might look! The ears will be erect (although not in flop-eared bunnies) and facing outwards like radars. The posture may be accompanied by a growling sound.
  • Crouching and thumping. If your rabbit is tensed up and thumps its back legs on the ground but doesn’t bolt for cover, it’s angry. The tail will be raised and, in stiff-eared breeds, the ears will be erect. Everything about the bunny will look tensed up, and the pupils will be dilated.
  • Crouching with bared teeth. If your bunny is crouched with its front legs stretched in front of it and its head up, teeth bared, it’s angry and ready for a fight. The body will be tense, even quivering, and the mouth will be open, the tail raised, pupils dilated and ears folded back.

A small child and a brown rabbit looking at each other in a rabbit run

How to make rabbits happy

There are various reasons why a pet bunny might be unhappy or stressed. The commonest cause is poor environment. They need sufficient space in their hutch and run, and they don’t want to be harassed by nosy dogs, cats or loud parties. The rabbits will also need the company and stimulation that enables them to fulfil their natural instincts. Remember – rabbits are social animals and love having other bunnies to play with.

Giving your rabbits regular health check-ups and ensuring they are up to date with their vaccinations is also essential. A healthy diet will go a long way towards ensuring a happy bunny. A high-quality pellet mix and a lot of hay form the basis of healthy diets, with fresh veg as treats.


To summarise, if your rabbit is relaxed around you or shows signs of curiosity rather than fear when introduced to something or someone new, they are almost certainly happy and relaxed.

A chilled-out rabbit is a mixture of nature and nurture. They are naturally skittish animals, but if handled by their owners at an early age, they will come to treat you as part of their safe environment, and their happiness will be obvious in the fact that they love spending time with you.

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This entry was posted in Rabbits


Treat Your Pets This Summer – 25% off Caddi

Save 25% on the Caddi Treat Holder until 2nd August! Fill the slow-release treat dispenser with summer snacks to keep your pets entertained for hours.

5 things you’ll love about the Caddi Treat Holder:

💚  Ideal way to give treats to your pets

🌽   Keeps food off the ground for added hygiene

🔧  Easily attached to any run or enclosure

🍃 Swinging motion keeps chickens entertained

🌦 Completely weatherproof and easy to clean


Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 28/07/21 – midnight on 02/08/21.  Use promo code SUMMERSNACKS at checkout to get 25% off Caddi Treat Holders for chickens, rabbits or guinea pigs. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs, Twin Pack with Peck Toys or packs with Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Offer is limited to 2 Caddi per household. While stocks last. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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This entry was posted in Chickens


How Rabbits Decide Who’s Boss

Like all social animals, rabbits have a ‘pecking order’. Young rabbits who have grown up together will sort this out without you even noticing. However, if you are introducing rabbits to each other for the first time, they will have to size each other up and establish which one is going to be dominant in the relationship.

The rabbits will not usually sort out this hierarchy by fighting, but display physical behaviour that is the bunny equivalent of two people showing off. They will chase, groom and bow, and one will try to mount the other (a sign of dominance in many mammals).


Why do rabbits groom each other?

On the surface, it may look as if a grooming session is an act of love and friendship. In reality, it is an act of subservience. The bunnies who do the grooming are letting the dominant rabbit know that they accept their place lower down in the social hierarchy. Mutual grooming will sometimes occur, but if a rabbit is licking and grooming another bunny’s ears, eyes and forehead, it means they are acknowledging the dominant rabbit’s place at the top of the pecking order.

The dominant rabbit will often request the grooming by approaching another rabbit and lowering its head. This may look like an act of submission, but it is the exact opposite. The rabbit with the lowered head is saying “here’s my head – get grooming!”

Why do rabbits bow to each other?

A bowing rabbit is asking to be groomed. The dominant bunny will approach its companion head-on, often touching noses. Its ears will be raised, and it will sometimes nudge the other rabbit’s chin to prompt the grooming.

Early in a bunny relationship, before the pecking order has been properly established, the rabbit being bowed to may not take the hint and, instead, will bow back. There will be several bows from each rabbit before the matter is settled, and it may even end in a brief tussle. A rabbit who wants to be groomed tends to insist on it!

Why do rabbits ‘flatten’?

Flattening involves crouching low on the ground, ears down. That latter detail differentiates it from a bow, as the flat ears indicate submissiveness. Rabbits will sometimes perform this action if they feel threatened by another rabbit in the run, and it will usually defuse any potential confrontation straight away.

A dominant rabbit will occasionally approach the ‘flattened’ bunny and lick its forehead. This is an acknowledgement of the submissive gesture, and it means the other bunny can relax.

Photos by Guillermo Casales on Unsplash

Why do rabbits chase each other?

Chasing has two meanings. It can be sexual behaviour, with a male chasing a female, or it can be another sign of dominance.

Chasing occurs quite frequently when rabbits are first introduced to each other. When the hierarchy has been sorted out, it becomes far less frequent. However, an unneutered male will often chase habitually to let the other rabbits know he is the dominant one. Some occasional bullies enjoy chasing, too. Unless one particular rabbit is being repeatedly targeted and is becoming stressed, or any individual is hurt as a result of a vigorous chase, you should simply accept it as part of the pecking order.

Sometimes the chase will manifest as a circling motion, with the dominant rabbit literally running rings around the subservient one. This will often culminate in mounting.

Why do non-mating rabbits mount each other?

Dominance is not automatically based on gender, and a female is just as likely to mount a male as vice versa. It’s a bit like wrestling, where the person who has thrown their opponent to the ground has won that particular bout. The rabbit that has been mounted will not always submit after a single mount, and the tables may be turned a few times before the dominance is formally established between the two bunnies.

Once rabbits have settled in together, the mounting will usually end, although some boisterous males seem to persist with the mounting habit. As long as the submissive rabbit accepts this as part of the social setup, it will not lead to further aggression. Occasionally, you might notice the dominant rabbit mounting just to remind the other bunny that they are the boss.

If the submissive rabbit appears to be distressed and is trying to escape, and is being pursued as a result, the animals may have to be separated for a while. Otherwise, it is best to let them get on with it and accept the mounting behaviour as a fact of rabbit life.

Introducing new rabbits

New rabbits should be introduced to each other on neutral territory, if possible. If you simply lock a newcomer in an existing rabbit run, it will be bullied by most of the other bunnies, and the dominant one can sometimes inflict injury on the newbie.

If you can take your dominant rabbit with you when choosing the new pet, it will help enormously. You will be able to see how the old rabbit reacts to the new one, and if all is well, they can even travel home together in the same travel crate. This will also help the bonding process, as both rabbits will feel nervous during the journey.

When you get home, let the rabbits settle down together on neutral territory. If all goes well, they can be moved to the run later in the day, with two food bowls. This is the best-case scenario, and it will often be a more drawn-out process getting two bunnies used to each other. You should have a spare run ready for the newbie rabbit, within sight and smell of the established bunny or bunnies. 

Let the rabbits cohabit each day for a few hours on neutral territory until they are completely happy together. This may involve several mounting, chasing, grooming and bowing sessions, but the pecking order will be established in the end!

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This entry was posted in Rabbits


Pride of Omlet: Ten Amazing Stories

Pride of Omlet series is a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

We have been lucky enough to collect some wonderful stories of your extraordinary pets and share them with you for 10 weeks! Here is a summary of the stories that you can read again and find directly on our Blog.

Pride of Omlet: Stand Up for Disabled Animals

Jerry’s a cheeky, playful and boisterous rescue dog from Romania who can do a handstand! He landed on his feet when Shena gave him a home and inspired her to start a rescue centre specialising in disabled animals. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: The Constant Companion

Martha’s humans Nicola and Ben bought chickens to bring joy to Julia, their mother who they cared for at home. The family could never have imagined that a chicken would become a caring companion to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. Read the story here!

 

Pride of Omlet: Free Support

Once caged battery hens, Hennifer Marge and Sybil now work free-range with their human Jonathan, transforming lives for offenders at the Rosemead Project. Jonathan (support worker and chicken champion) believes the hens have the power to unscramble tricky social situations. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: A Perfect Match

On paper, Kipper wasn’t exactly what Angela wanted. After years of behavioural challenges, he’s become the best-behaved blood donor and saved over forty dog’s lives. Kipper’s turned out to be Angela’s perfect match. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Teachers Pet

Henni Hen is a teaching assistant by trade. A cute and cuddly chicken who loves children. She follows in the footsteps of her bubbly humans, Hamish and Verity. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Mipit Makes Sense

Mipit is a Mental Health Assistance Dog for his human, Henley. Mipit keeps Henly alive and independent. Who wouldn’t love a dog that can put out your recycling, answer your phone, and be your best friend, come rain or shine? Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Perfect Peaky

At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. But they are determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Saving Sophia’s Life

When you’ve grown up with animals, home isn’t home without a pet. Bringing Harry home was lifesaving for both him and his humans, Sarah and daughter Sophia. Harry has a special gift. He’s a unique epilepsy monitor, and he’s saved Sophia’s life countless times. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Buster’s Beard

Buster was destined to chase balls on the beaches of Barry Island. He’s a lovable labradoodle with big brown eyes and a long beard. A thinker with a playful nature, he’s co-authored a children’s book with his human Natalie to bring Autism Awareness to all. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Brave Bunnies

It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy. Read the story here!

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This entry was posted in Budgies


10 Ways to Bond With Your Rabbit

Evidence suggests that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives. Sometimes it can feel like our furry friends are in a world of their own – but it only takes time and patience to start bonding with your bunny.

This article looks at ten fun and exciting ways to deepen your connection to your pet, whether the rabbit is already part of the family or you’ve just brought a new bunny home. 

1. Learn Your Pet’s Personality

Like people, all rabbits have distinctive personalities and unique habits. If you have decided to buy a baby rabbit, you may find that they’re very shy at first, but over time they will come out of their shell and begin to reveal their personality. We have a very useful article about Learning to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language, a great resource for identifying what makes rabbit tick. The article outlines the many different sounds your rabbit can make, as well as how its posture can give you clues to what your pet is thinking.

2. Create A Shared Space

It’s natural for your rabbit to feel nervous or even defensive if you interact with them by reaching into their hutch – after all, this space is their home, and all of their instincts tell them to protect it from potential predators. If you want to spend time bonding with your rabbit, try setting up a play area or run large enough for you to sit inside with the rabbit. This way, you can start interacting with your pet on neutral ground.

Rabbits feel comfortable when they have something over their heads, so don’t feel bad if the first few times they hide under any covered area you have set up. 

3. Fill Your Shared Space With Toys

There are many fun things you can place around your rabbit’s play area or run, including Zippi tubes and tunnels, chew treats, a covered area, hanging toys and a hay basket.

Once you have a shared space set up with toys and other gear, try sitting in there with your rabbit for half an hour every day without reaching out to touch your pet. This way, your rabbit will learn to feel comfortable in your company and begin to trust you. It is likely that after a few days of this close contact, your rabbit will approach you without fear and begin to show some curiosity. It’s natural for your rabbit to have a gentle nibble when you first meet – don’t worry, it’s not a bite!

4. Give Your Rabbit New Experiences

Although rabbits are creatures of habit, it’s still good for them if new things are introduced into their lives now and then. Your rabbit will learn to associate you with these new fun experiences, which will deepen your bond. Try occasionally changing the layout of their hutch or investing in a fun new toy for them to play with – you could even make toys for them out of simple household objects like empty kitchen rolls. 

5. Offer Healthy Treats

Rabbits can teach us a lot when it comes to healthy treats. They don’t like sweet things or junk food, and the most unhealthy thing you can give them is actually carrot or apple (as these are relatively high in sugar)! It helps you bond with your pet if you offer tempting greens, celery sticks or other yummy things. The rabbit will cautiously approach and take a nibble, and you’re a step closer to breaking down those barriers and properly bonding.

6. Pet your Rabbit

Once your rabbit is comfortable around you, and doesn’t run away when you approach with your hand extended, it’s time to start stroking them. Physical contact with your pet is one of the most natural ways to form a bond, and although you may find at first that the rabbit doesn’t seem too keen to be stroked, this is totally normal, and nothing to worry about. It may take a few weeks before you have your rabbit sitting comfortably in your lap.

The most considerate way to approach your rabbit is to reach with your hand low down, just to the side of their head. This way, they can see that it’s you who is petting them. Rabbits are naturally terrified of birds attacking from above and often run away when approached from a height (and a human standing on two legs is, as far as the rabbit is concerned, a height!). Rabbits also have a blind spot right in front of their noses – something common to most plant-eating animals – so you should also avoid approaching nervous rabbits directly from the front. 

7. Teaching Rabbit Tricks

Once your rabbit is playing with you regularly, you can start teaching them some simple tricks! This can begin with reinforcing natural behaviour such as walking through a tunnel, with a treat waiting for them at the far end. Or, it could be something more complex such as teaching your rabbit to spin or do a roll. We have an article all about teaching your rabbit tricks if you want to go deeper down this fascinating rabbit hole! 

8. Copying Your Rabbit

One slightly more unusual way of bonding with your rabbit is to behave in ways they would expect to see in other rabbits. This could include pretending to clean yourself the way a rabbit does, or having a little bit of your own food when you see them nibbling at theirs. Just make sure your rabbit sees you doing this, as the whole point is to make them see you as more rabbit-like! This may not be necessary if you already have a trusting relationship with your rabbit. 

9. Choosing The Right Time To Play With Your Rabbit

As you begin to get to know your rabbit well, you will see that they have certain times of day when they are more or less active. It is natural for your rabbit to spend large amounts of time sleeping, and they are very habit-forming animals. Try taking note of when they are most active so that you can choose that as the optimum time to play – this avoids frustrating your rabbit by interrupting their nap with a trip to the playpen!

10. Learning To Hold Your Rabbit Safely

When your rabbit is fully bonded with you, they might let you pick them up and carry them around. If you are lucky enough to have a docile rabbit that lets you do this, always remember to hold them in the way that is most comfortable for them. Support your rabbit’s hindquarters in the same way you would support a human baby’s head. Hold them only firmly enough to keep them in your grasp – there is no need to hold them tight, as they are unlikely to jump to the floor. 

Rabbits are gentle souls, so you need to be gentle in return. Be patient, give them time, and they’ll soon come to look on you as a true friend and companion.

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This entry was posted in Pets


Pride of Omlet: Brave Bunnies

This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

-Written by Anneliese Paul

It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy.

Wendy had two beautiful rabbits, which she adored. A jet black male Rex rabbit called Jensen and his chocolate brown partner, Havana. But in 2019, Havana died suddenly of pneumonia, and Jensen grieved so severely that he wouldn’t leave his bed. He was the most miserable, unhappy rabbit.

Wendy wanted him to bond with another rabbit, so she went to the RSPCA Canterbury and found Pixie, who had been severely neglected. Pixie was rescued with her partner, but sadly, this rabbit didn’t survive. Pixie was close to starvation, she was skin and bones and had to be fattened up before she was ready to be rehomed. Wendy wanted to give her the loving home she deserved.

Thinking she would be a perfect match for Jensen, Wendy took Pixie home. She had divided the rabbit house so that she could slowly introduce them. After about a month, they were lying next to each other, separated only by the wire, so Wendy decided it was time. But Pixie was traumatised and her fear presented in aggressive behaviour. She couldn’t handle it and bit Jensen. She was agitated and frightened of everything. For a while, even putting food down for her was tricky. She would lunge at the hands that fed her. It was a terribly sad time for Wendy to see Pixie so distressed.

Wendy kept Pixie on her own, and slowly slowly, Pixie began to trust her. Now, 18 months on, she puts her nose up to be stroked, and she’ll hop alongside Jensen. Their Omlet runs, run parallel, so she’s got her space, and he’s got his. They also have a shed divided in two with three levels, windows, balconies, and a flap to their outside Omlet runs, which are connected with tunnels to the conservatory. The gate system on the Omlet runs means Wendy can let them both have time in the house. What was once Wendy’s dining room is now a rabbit playroom with a box, some steps and tunnels so they can just mess around and do bunny stuff.  They take turns to come in, and Wendy leaves the door open, so they don’t get too warm.

Before she starts work in the morning, she makes the rabbits a little salad. Kale, Cavalo Nero or Spring Greens are the staples, mixed with herbs like parsley, mint and basil. And in the summer, she’ll pick fresh leaves and rose petals. They have 3 or 4 different kinds of hay to choose from in their runs, and for a treat, Wendy likes to give them bunny biscuits, or strawberries which they absolutely love.

From her sad beginnings, Pixie has blossomed with a loving owner who understands her past, builds up her confidence and feeds her a delicious diet. And Jensen has a new partner, Tinkerbell, a blue-eyed white mini Rex. Wendy simply adores all three of her beautiful rabbits, but especially Pixie. She’s a survivor.

“Almost every day, she could reduce me to tears. She’s so loving and responsive. I’m just absolutely amazed that this little rabbit found it in her heart to actually forgive humans.”

 

       

 

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This entry was posted in Pride of Omlet


Can you feed pets a vegan diet? 

Some pets, including rabbits and guinea pigs, are naturally vegan. Hamsters and gerbils, although omnivorous, can thrive on a vegan diet in which the protein content is supplied by plants and vegetables. Others, including omnivorous dogs and out-and-out carnivore cats, cannot be easily pleased on meat-free diets.

All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. But this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.

Can my dog have a vegan diet?

If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.

However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?

The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs at the best of times, and a low-fat, high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.

The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by vegi equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.

All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.

Can my cat have a vegan diet?

The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals. 

The main challenge with minimising the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.

Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.

There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.

For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.

Top 10 pets for vegan households

There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favourites.

1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.

2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.

3. Hamsters. As most hamster owners feed their pets with shop-bought hamster food, they may not be able to say exactly what the ingredients of that food are. However, vegetarian and vegan hamster foods are readily available.

4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivores that can live happily on a vegan diet. They tend to have rather delicate stomachs, so feeding them with a high-quality pellet mix is essential. Too much fresh stuff can cause problems.

5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need. 

6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Indeed, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.

7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your veg patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!

8. Budgies and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.

9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.

10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.

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This entry was posted in Budgies


Aggressive rabbits: what to know and how to help

Rabbits are usually peaceful creatures who love to play and socialise with their owners. But what do you do if your rabbit starts showing signs of aggression? It’s tough to see your pet stressed, and it’s natural to want to help them. Here, we outline a few ways you can minimise bad bunny behaviour and start enjoying the time you spend with them again! 

What is aggressive behaviour in rabbits?

There are two major kinds of aggression in rabbits, the most typical being defensive behaviour surrounding their habitat. If your rabbit bites when you reach your hand into their cage or hutch, it’s likely to be territorial defensive aggression. Another kind of aggressive behaviour occurs between your rabbits – for example, if they are fighting each other to the point of injury.

It can be upsetting to see your bunny get hurt, and hard to know what to do. A small amount of fighting is natural between your pets, but if you can see blood on their fur or in the hutch then its possible that the anger is getting out of hand and the bites are getting nasty.

How to help with territorial aggression and biting

If your rabbits bite your hand – or try to – consider how and where you approach your pet. The hutch is often a bolt hole and ‘safe space’ for a bunny and is where they spend most of their lives. If you reach in unexpectedly, it is natural that they might be scared and defensive. Rabbits are prey animals in the wild and are especially jumpy when ‘cornered’ in their safe space! 

You may find that if you start to interact with your rabbit in a non-hutch setting – such as a run or play area – you have more chance of a peaceful and happy interaction. Try sitting with your rabbit in the run for a few hours every day, and then beginning to slowly approach with your rabbit’s favorite treats. After spending time like this, you may find that your rabbit starts coming to you more and more, and if the rabbit is initiating the approach, aggression is much less likely.

By spending time with your rabbit in this non-hutch environment, you are teaching your pet that you are not a predator, and that you can be trusted to approach them. Once the trust is established, you should be able to approach the rabbit in its hutch with no problems. 

 

How to stop aggressive behaviour between your rabbits

If you have noticed fighting between your rabbits, and if this seems to be more than just their normal play fighting, you may need to think about how much space they have in their hutch. It could be that your rabbits have grown since you bought them, and their once spacious house is now a little too small for two. It could be that they have spent little time in the run over winter, and so they’ve become a little ‘house-bound’ in their hutch. Cabin fever affects humans and pets alike! 

Whatever the reason for the bunnies’ bad moods, it is important that your rabbits should feel happy and relaxed in their hutch. It is likely that the fighting will ease off if they have more elbow room. Rabbits are territorial animals, and they each need their own space as well as a shared space.

Try distracting your brawling bunnies by clapping your hands. The noise will distract them and will hopefully teach your rabbit not to fight. A particularly aggressive rabbit can be deterred by spraying water on their nose – but this isn’t something you want to be doing too often, so if, after the first few sprays, it      via GIPHY                                 isn’t making any difference, it’s time for Plan B.

If you decide to invest in a larger hutch but your rabbits continue to show aggressive behaviour, you may have to separate them into two different hutches. That’s Plan B!

The benefits of spaying rabbits

Spaying (also known as neutering) is the term for stopping your pet from having babies and is accomplished via surgery. If your rabbits were from a pet shop, it is likely that they have already been spayed – but if you got your rabbits from a friend, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet and ask about spaying.

If your rabbit has not been spayed, they are much more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour to you and any fellow bunny who shares their hutch. 

It is common for owners to keep male rabbits or female rabbits in single-gender pairs, and this can lock them into a mating-related feud that neither can win. Your rabbits could be fighting over who is the most dominant in their shared territory, but this fighting is much less likely to occur if they have been spayed. 

Equally, if you have decided to keep a male and female rabbit together, it is a good idea to get them spayed, as rabbits can have up to fifty baby bunnies a year! Fifty bunnies may sound cute but consider how difficult it could be to care for and house that many animals! 

There are other benefits to spaying your rabbit other than reducing their aggression, such as reducing their chances of getting mammarian, ovarian or testicular cancer. Spayed rabbits are also much easier to train, and are more sociable generally. 

If you have only recently brought your pet rabbit home, they may need a little time to get used to their new space and become comfortable. It is natural for any new pet to be nervous and skittish at first, and this could lead to a few aggressive behaviours, including biting, early on. 

It’s important to know that your rabbit is more scared of you than you are of it, and that just because it has bitten you doesn’t mean that you won’t end up being the best of friends! If you feel nervous about establishing contact with the rabbit, talk to a friend who has had rabbits for a little longer, or check out some of the reassuring ‘how to’ guides available online.

Just remember that having a rabbit is hugely rewarding and it’s worth spending time hand-training your pet from the outset. As long as they have enough space and no aggressive ‘mating rivals’, they should be every bit as calm and cuddly as you could hope for.

 

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This entry was posted in Rabbits


Can I keep chickens with other pets?


Photo by
Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash

When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.

Keeping chickens with dogs

If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behaviour is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop. 

The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.

Teaching dogs to get along with chickens

You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behaviour you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance. 

One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave in to their chasing instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens. 

There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get on, but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case. 

Keeping chickens with cats

Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry, and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers. 

Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbour’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.

 

Keeping chickens with guinea pigs

You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them. 

Keeping chickens with rabbits

Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.

Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.

Photo by JackieLou DL from Pixabay                           

 Having a large and secure garden run will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximise the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbours. 

Chickens and other pets

Chickens can also rub along happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.

Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.

By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your mixed menagerie happy!

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

 

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This entry was posted in Budgies


How to teach your guinea pigs and rabbits tricks

One of the most rewarding experiences you can have with your pets is teaching them tricks, and despite what you may have heard, it’s a lot easier than you might think. 


Image by
Pezibear from Pixabay

Rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable animals, and they greatly benefit from spending time with their owners learning and playing. It can be a great way to establish trust between you and your pets, as well as a lot of fun!

Training a rabbits or guinea pig works best when you can repeat it every day – even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Not only will your pets love the attention, having the repeated routine will help them remember the tricks you perform together.

The first thing you will need is a quiet space away from distractions. Zippi Rabbit Runs and Playpens are ideal, giving you the secure and familiar space in which your pets can relax and enjoy the training. You will also need some of your rabbits’ and guinea pigs’ favourite treats to encourage and reinforce the learning. It

can be helpful to separate your pets when training them, but equally, some pets benefit from learning from each other – for example, if you have an older trained rabbit or a young, untrained one, the young rabbit can learn tricks faster by copying his older friend. And forget what you’ve heard about old dogs and new tricks – your pets are never too old to pick up new things!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Image by Rolf Neumann from Unsplash

Rabbit and Guinea pig tricks for beginners

When you start to train your guinea pig or rabbit, it’s all about patience and perseverance. Your pet might not seem that interested initially, but as you continue to reinforce their learning with treats, you will find they keep coming back for more. You should always start with something simple, such as ‘Circling’, a perfect trick for both rabbits and guinea pigs.

Training your guinea pig or rabbit to Circle

To teach your pet how to perform Circle, simply grip a treat tight between your fingers, and hold it close to your pet’s mouth. Then lead your pet around in a circle with the treat – so that it spins on the spot. Repeat this until your pet spins around without you leading them, occasionally reinforcing them with the treat. It is important that you only give them a reinforcement treat when they successfully do the trick. Don’t feel bad if they manage to sneakily steal the treat from you – it’s all part of the fun!

Don’t worry if this takes some time to learn – the first trick can be the hardest for your rabbits or guinea pig, and once they have mastered Circle, a whole world of tricks opens up for you and your pet to enjoy together! If your pet is struggling with Circle, try making them turn in the other direction – just like us, our pets are either left or right-footed.

There are all sorts of tricks that you can teach your pets using a similar method – teach your guinea pigs to go through a play tunnel in your Zippi Run by guiding them with a treat to the beginning of the tunnel, then place the treat at the other end of the tunnel as a reward. You can also teach your rabbits to first stand up by holding the treat just out of their reach – then, when they have learnt to stand, you can start slowly moving the treat, and you will soon find your rabbit taking its first steps on two feet to get that treat.

How to teach rabbits and guinea pigs ‘Figure of Eight’

If you’ve succeeded in all of these treat-leading tricks, then maybe challenge yourself by trying to teach your pet to walk a figure of eight weaving between your legs – in the same way as with Circle. With some perseverance, you’ll be amazed at what your pet can learn and remember. This is a great trick for showing off to your friends, and you’ll find that your pets are a lot more comfortable around strangers after training.

Don’t forget that the treats which you give your pets are a part of their diet, and if you’re repeating your training daily as recommended, you may need to give your pet a touch less feed each day to make up for the extra nutrition they’re getting from the frequent treats. You can further increase the effectiveness of your training by exchanging your dried treats for fresh leaves. Keeping the treats healthy is important.

How to make rabbits and guinea pigs come when called

As with many tricks, the key here is treats. Offer the treat when you are close to the pet, and say the pet’s name as you do so. Eventually, they will come to associate their name with the treat. The next step is to call your pet from further away, showing the treat. Repeat the name as they take it. Call your rabbit’s name and give them a treat after they approach. After two weeks of this regular exercise – calling, treating – try calling your pet’s name without showing the treat.

If the rabbit or guinea pig does not respond, they have not yet made the connection. Revert to the first steps, and call while showing – and giving – the treat. Once your pet has made the link, they will scurry towards you when they hear their name. There’s no harm in reinforcing this with a bonus treat now and then!

How to make rabbits and guinea pigs jump through hoops

The key to this trick is stick-training. You will also need the pet training device known as a clicker. To start training your guinea pig or rabbit– and over the first few days of training – simply hold the stick near your pet. When it turns to sniff and investigate the training stick, click the clicker and offer a treat. In time, your pet will come to associate the stick with a treat.

The next stage is to hold the hoop close to your Rabbit or guinea pig, slightly off the ground. Hold the stick on the other side of the hoop, and eventually your pet will jump through to get the treat. Guinea pigs will only manage a slight hop, whereas over time you can raise the hoop quite high for a rabbit.

How to make rabbits give you a High-5!

This is a complex one, and it is only suitable for rabbits. It involves a certain amount of ‘click training’, using a clicker.

The starting point is to sit with your rabbit and wait for it to lift a paw – they do this frequently – clicking whenever it does so. For the first few days, this is far as you’ll get – raised paw, click! You can speed thing up by offering a treat high off the ground – the rabbit will lift its nose, and then its paw. Be ready with that clicker when the paw is raised!

For the next stage, position your hand near the rabbit, on the ground. When the raised paw is put down again, it will touch your hand. As soon as it does, give the clicker a click and offer a treat. Once the rabbit begins to understand, you can move your hand further away. The key is to make the rabbit realise that the click and the treat only occur when they touch your hand.

By keeping your hand on one side of the rabbit, rather than in front, you’ll make sure the paw-to-hand contact only involves a single paw – a key detail of the high-5. The rabbit will eventually know that touching the hand delivers the treat. So, the next step is to put your hand out and wait for the rabbit to make the connection and high-5 it. Once it does, give it the click and treat treatment!

This process can take time – but it’s a great trick, and one that will genuinely amaze everyone who watches it!

Runs and platforms for rabbits and guinea pigs

One of the key ways you can enrich your pets’ lives and keep them mentally and physically fit and healthy is by getting them a proper enclosure and suitable play equipment. Giving your pets the right amount of space is essential to their wellbeing, and this is easy with custom-made Zippi Tunnels and Zippi Run Platforms. These expand the space within your run and bring the many benefits of constant exercise.

Zippi Platforms increase the daily exercise possibilities for your pets and tap into their meerkat-like instincts of getting up high and acting as a lookout. Having a fun environment goes hand in hand with good training, as your pets’ happiness and healthiness is key to their engagement in learning. 

If you have a large group of rabbits or guinea pigs, training them is a great way to give your pets some individual attention – you might soon find that it’s both you and your pets’ favourite part of the day!

 

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This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs


10 tips for keeping older rabbits healthy and happy

Older rabbits need a little extra care. But when exactly is a bunny ‘old’? It very much depends on the breed. Larger rabbits have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, which means they become senior rabbits sooner than medium and small breeds.

At what age is a rabbit considered old?

As a general rule of thumb, small rabbit breeds, which live around 12 years, are seniors when they reach 8. Medium-sized rabbit breeds live up to 10 years and can be considered senior at 6 years. The large rabbit breeds have much shorter lifespans – just 4 to 7 years – and reach old age at 4.

The shortest-lived rabbit breeds are like small pets such as gerbils, hamsters and rats, in that they only have a few months of senior status at the end of their lives.

How do you take care of an old rabbit?

Here’s how to make sure those senior rabbit years are as healthy and happy as possible.

  1. Make sure you give them the right food. Rabbit care is largely about food, and a healthy diet is essential throughout a rabbit’s life. As your bunny gets older, you should consider buying specially formulated pellets or nuggets. There are several different brands, and they contain the optimal balance of vitamins and minerals for ageing rabbits. Older rabbits mustn’t gain too much weight – or, indeed, lose weight – during this dietary transition, so you should weigh them regularly to maintain the correct weight. In addition to the special pellets, senior rabbits should be fed lots of hay and fresh foods as usual.
  2. Don’t add supplements to your rabbit’s diet. Rabbits get everything they need from a diet of hay, fresh food and appropriate pellets. Extra calcium, for example, can cause digestive problems or stones in the urinary tract.
  3. Make sure your bunny gets plenty of exercise. Getting old doesn’t mean sitting around all day – rabbits of all ages need to move around to stay happy and healthy. A run will naturally allow your bunnies to hop, skip and jump, and a tunnel layout such as Omlet’s Zippi system is nothing short of essential. These run layouts keep your rabbit exercised both mentally and physically, which is all part of healthy old age. You can use rubber-backed mats on steep or slippery surfaces, to enable the rabbit to get a better grip.
  4. Provide quiet spaces. Senior rabbits are less active than young bunnies and appreciate a quiet space away from the action. A cosy corner in the hutch will keep a tired rabbit happy, with lots of soft bedding, is essential. Incorporating ‘safe spaces’ in your run helps too. If you use a Zippi Platform, the space created has the dual purpose of providing a quiet corner high up in the run, and also gives your pet rabbit exercise as it climbs up and down.
  5. Keep the hutch lined with soft bedding. Senior rabbits can develop pressure points and sores or a foot condition called pododermatitis. This is caused by hard surfaces or wire meshing on the floor of a run. Good senior rabbit care means looking after sore feet!
  6. Keep bunny claws clipped. Senior rabbits tend to move around less, and as a result their claws can soon become overlong. Regular clipping is required. If you’re not comfortable performing this, ask your vet for help.
  7. Provide shelter from the elements. In addition to that cosy corner in the rabbit’s hutch, some weatherproofing to shield your ageing bunny from the elements will increase the comfort factor, whatever the weather. A Zippi Rabbit Run Weather Protection cover is the perfect way of keeping the worst of the weather at bay.
  8. Carry out regular health checks. Older rabbits are prone to dental diseases and other health problems. If your bunny loses its appetite, loses weight, salivates, produces fewer droppings or has swellings around the mouth, it could be a sign of dental problems. Ask your vet to perform a thorough dental examination. Arthritis can be an issue, too, and a bunny who has slowed down may benefit from anti-inflammatory drugs. Older rabbits may also soil their back legs, and this can cause skin problems or fly infestation. Again, the vet will be able to prescribe treatments to address all aspects of your rabbit’s health.
  9. Reduce obstacles. A rim around a litter tray, or a tunnel that rabbits have to hop over to get to the other side of the run, can cause problems in older rabbits who can no longer hop over things. Rearranging the run furniture and providing easy access to litter trays indoors is the answer.
  10. Take your bunny for regular check-ups. The best way of keeping on top of problems is prevention. A vet will be able to spot problems before they become debilitating and will usually be able to offer remedies and advice.

Getting old is part of life. A healthy rabbit will take it in their stride, though, as long as you pay attention to the little details that make all the difference.

 

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This entry was posted in Rabbits


Which Fruit and Vegetables Can I Feed my Rabbit?

Rather than scattering all the food on the ground, the best way to feed your rabbit is to serve the fresh veg and leafy greens in a dispenser. This gives the rabbits something more interesting to interact with. This a healthy way of providing fresh food, as it avoids contact with dirt on the ground and prevents rotting leaves or vegetables being trampled into the ground. It also reduces food wastage and keeps pests away. 

Rabbits are eating

A dispenser that attaches neatly to the rabbit’s run, such as Omlet’s Caddi Rabbit Treat Holder is perfect, doubling as a hay feeder. Finding food in a treat holder engages a rabbit’s brain, too, as they actively forage and rummage around for food rather than just hoovering up whatever they find on the floor. 

What can I feed my bunny?

The list of fruits and vegetables in a rabbit’s diet is long and includes many of the standard items available in greengrocer shops and supermarkets. All fruit and veg should be washed before serving, and if you can source organic food, all the better. Feed your rabbit its fruit as a treat rather a staple, and the focus should always be on the veg.

The problem with fruit is that it’s high in sugar, and sugar doesn’t feature heavily in a wild rabbit’s diet, with the exception of a few berries and windfalls nibbled at the end of summer and shouldn’t be part of their daily diet. Your bunny may be domesticated, but it’s a wild rabbit at heart in terms of health and dietary needs.

Apples, blackberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries and strawberries are safe for rabbits, but should only be fed in small amounts – just one-eighth of an apple or pear per rabbit, for example, and just two soft fruits. These should not be offered more than twice a week.

What vegetables can I feed my rabbit?

Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash

The list of good veg that rabbits eat includes:

  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage – Red, Savoy and Kale
  • Carrots and carrot tops (only as a rare treat, though)
  • Cauliflower leaves and stalks
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce (stick to Romaine varieties, as other types can be watery and may cause diarrhoea)
  • Parsley (just once a week)
  • Parsnip
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Spinach (just once a week)
  • Sweet peppers (green and yellow are best, as the red ones are quite sugary; and never feed chilli peppers!)
  • Turnips
  • Tomato (only as a rare treat, as they have a high sugar content)
  • Watercress (just once a week)

Vegetables that are poisonous for rabbits

Too much oxalic acid, which occurs naturally in leafy vegetables, can poison a rabbit and cause kidney damage. However, the amounts found in some rabbit foods, including parsley, watercress and spinach, are not high enough to cause harm, and rabbits can eat them as long as these foods are restricted to just once a week.

Starch and sugar are the main things to avoid. These cause digestive problems by changing the pH balance in the rabbit’s digestive system, and in extreme cases they can result in gastrointestinal disease. Foods that cause problems when fed to excess are grains (e.g. wheat, barley and oats), legumes (beans and peas) and all fruits (they’re all high in sugar).

Rabbits should avoid the following altogether:

  • Aubergines
  • Avocados
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Potatoes and potato tops
  • Rhubarb (fruit and leaves)
  • Tomato leaves

No Carrots?!

Rabbits are so closely associated with carrots that it’s hard to accept that the veg might not actually be that good for them. From Peter Rabbit to Bugs Bunny, fictional rabbits love carrots, and real bunnies love them too. However, carrots contain a lot of sugar and calories but lack the good fibre found in more bunny-friendly fresh foods. A carrot-heavy diet can cause constipation in rabbits, and make sugar levels rise dangerously. 

Carrots

Photo by Oriol Portell on Unsplash

Carrots should therefore be treated like fruit – fine as an occasional treat, but only fed in moderation.

Safe herbs and plants suitable for rabbits

Wild rabbits eat a wide variety of plants, and even wood and bark. However, unless you’re confident about which wild plants are safe for rabbits to eat, it’s best to stick to these common species, to avoid digestive problems or serious illness: 

  • Bindweed
  • Blackberry, raspberry and strawberry leaves (these are good for poorly digestive systems)
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Cow parsnip
  • Dandelion (but not too many, as it is a laxative)
  • Geranium (wild varieties)
  • Golden rod
  • Goose grass
  • Grass (juicy stalks, rather than cuttings from the lawnmower: garden clippings may contain toxic plants)
  • Ground elder (NOT elder tree or shrub)
  • Hazel
  • Knapweed
  • Plantain
  • Rose leaves, petals and wood
  • Shepherd’s purse
  • Sow thistle
  • Yarrow
  • Willow leaves and wood in fresh-cut twig form

Spot the rabbit

It is very important that the wild greens you feed your rabbits should not have been sprayed with pesticides, weed-killers or fertilisers. These are toxic, and some can be fatal to rabbits and other pets.

What vitamins and minerals do rabbits need?

Rabbits need a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals, and these will generally be provided by a healthy 

pellet food and a good supply of hay. Rabbits need lots of vitamin A, but they get all they need from the hay. The hay also provides them with all the vitamin D and calcium they need.

Unlike many other animals, rabbits are able to make their own vitamin C, so that is not a dietary issue.

Rabbits eat a wide variety of foods – that’s one of the many great things about them, so it’s easy to vary their diets. You can ‘rotate’ which greens you are feeding them, and you can retain items such as carrot or apple for treat-based training. As long as their diet is based on a good pellet feed and plenty of hay – and as long as you avoid the toxic foods mentioned above – you will have healthy and happy rabbits.

 

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Platforms: benefits of exercise across multiple levels


Like humans, rabbits and guinea pigs need exercise! If your doctor recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, know that the same goes for your small pets. So rabbits and guinea pigs, get your little paws ready, it is high time to get back to sport! First, let’s take a look at why exercise is so important for rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Physical and mental well-being

Exercise is necessary to keep your rabbit and/or guinea pig healthy. Movement contributes to your animal’s mental and psychological balance. It is therefore essential, in addition to the balanced food you provide, to devote time to physical exercise.

The muscles of your rabbit or guinea pig need to be trained. Your pet should be able to test their abilities, their limits, practice, have fun, and jump around. A stimulating environment will offer your animal dynamic days, without monotony, allowing it to flourish. Why not personalise your rabbits’ play area; add toys, create several spaces for it on raised platforms? They will thank you for it!

When your pet starts to play and run, it is a sign they’re happy and having fun. Get involved and engage with them in play to stimulate their senses and reflexes.

Prevent the risk of injury and obesity

Unlike a life in the wild, full of twists and turns, life for our domestic pets is a little different, with less movement and activity, rabbits and guinea pigs are at risk of becoming ill. Obesity is a common example of this. In the wild, they tend to run, to flee dangers, to fight against bad weather and to test their reflexes. They have to work hard to get food, dig a shelter, watch out for predators that are both high up (raptors and other birds) and on land. Their metabolism is used to such conditions, so they naturally have less weight problems.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Domestic rabbits and guinea pigs sometimes live in small places. As well as their daily feed, pets are also given extra treats throughout the day. Without exercise, they can easily gain weight. They must therefore be stimulated, otherwise a vicious circle sets in. By not exercising, your pets gain weight and the more weight they have, the harder it will be for them to engage in play and movement. Exercise is therefore recommended as soon as your rabbit or guinea pig arrives in your home.

A little tip to find out if your rabbit or guinea pig is the ideal weight: you should lightly feel your animal’s ribs by pressing on its belly.

Image by scym from Pixabay 

In addition to obesity, a lack of exercise could lead to urinary problems, osteoporosis or even fractures. Rabbits and guinea pigs are therefore more fragile when raised in apartments and homes. By training your rabbit or guinea pig you are helping to strengthen its heart and to reduce the risk of injury from lack of movement. It’s not about overtraining, but allowing it to let off steam and move their bodies! Like humans, rabbits and guinea pigs experience problems relating to old age: strained muscle, wear and tear of the skeleton. The solution to try to get around your problems: exercise!

How do I keep my rabbit and my guinea pig occupied? What exercises are recommended to keep my pet in good health?

Platforms: a multitude of possibilities

Platforms are the ideal solution for keeping your pet healthy. They allow you to create different levels and customise your pet’s play environment as you see fit. By jumping up and down on organised level platforms, your rabbit or guinea pig will keep their bones and muscles in good shape. The platforms allow adaptation to the natural behavior of rabbits and guinea pigs.

The levels allow your rabbits and guinea pigs to exercise their muscles, jumping up and down the ramp. By reproducing natural climbs and descents, just like in the wild, your animal can, in complete safety, strengthen their core muscles and stimulate their minds.

The creation of a platform on several levels, allows you to vary the daily exercise of your pets, keep them in good health and in addition to that, it allows you to optimise the space. Completely modular and customisable, the Zippi Platforms from Omlet offer your pets new sensations and allow them to experience new adventures.

Vets and animal experts also recommend the use of different levels to stimulate small pets. Your rabbit or guinea pig may need some encouragement to begin with, but if you choose a sturdy and safe structure, your pet will soon realise taking their playtime to new heights is a lot of fun!

Zippi Platforms from Omlet are non-slip and allow your beloved pet to hop without fear of slipping. Always be sure to choose platforms that ensure your pet’s safety.

This multi-functional play area is suitable for all breeds of rabbits and all breeds of guinea pigs. It’s up to you to organize the space and platforms as you see fit according to your pet’s preferences.

Here are some ideas for setting up the platforms in the Zippi runs.

Nothing prevents you from adding many accessories to further personalize your pet’s play area: tunnel, shelters … You have endless possibilities! Your rabbit or guinea pig will feel comfortable to indulge in their favorite activities: jumping, running, skipping over obstacles and hopping around!

Perching high up, your animals can see the world around them from a new perspective. Curious by nature, they can finally enjoy their environment.

Platforms: an easy way to have fun together

What could be more important than enjoying this new play environment together? Your animals love to be admired and encouraged, and will love to spend time with you!

The height of the platforms will allow you to enjoy your animals from a new angle. Platforms allow you to sit down and be at their eye level, making interaction much easier. Comfortable for your back, of course, but also a new way to spend time and have fun with your rabbit or guinea pig. The possibilities to stimulate your pets will be diverse and you will be able to teach them how to use their new platforms.

Your children will be able to enjoy their pet in complete safety. This will make it much easier for them to play together. Interaction will be easier thanks to a height that will suit your pet as well as your children.

Exercise is essential for your pets. Don’t neglect this aspect of their lives: making an exciting playground they will love, can be great fun for you too!

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How to use platforms with your rabbits

Why do rabbits need platforms?

Compared to a one-level play area, having an additional floor height in your rabbits’ enclosure boosts exercise opportunities, helping your rabbit activate muscles that they would use in their natural environment to climb up and down underground warrens. Jumping on and off a platform helps to keep muscles and bones strong, which is why platforms are recommended as an essential rabbit accessory by vets and pet charities.

Providing rabbits with a fun environment

As a rabbit owner, it is your responsibility to provide your rabbits with everything they need, and that includes a safe enclosure, where they can play, exercise, eat, and clean themselves. Providing a range of toys for play and exercise will help keep your rabbit happy and healthy, and Zippi Platforms are a great way to give your rabbits a playground they will love.

How can I give my rabbits more space?

Platforms are also an easy way of giving your rabbits more space to move around and explore. By positioning a platform in your rabbit’s enclosure you can make better use of the height to give an even bigger area for toys and exercise. The platform gives a look out for rabbits to examine their environment from a height, plus a more exhilarating way to exercise. While the area beneath feels safe for rabbits to relax and graze on hay or if they need to shelter from bad weather.

What are the Zippi Platforms from Omlet?

The Zippi Rabbit Runs and Platforms from Omlet are designed to offer a modular system that you can adapt at any time. The platforms fit securely to the Zippi rabbit enclosure so they feel safe underfoot, and are waterproof so they are easy to clean with just a garden hose and pet-safe disinfectant. Start small, and add more extensions and platforms at any time to build an amazing play area for your rabbits

5 Ways to Use the Zippi Rabbit Platforms

Need some inspiration on how you can use platforms with your pet? Take a look at our ideas below to create a fun and safe area for your rabbits to exercise.

Take shelter to new heights!

The Zippi Platforms offer shelter below for bad weather days, but your rabbits can still make the most of the second level in their enclosure during wind and rain, with the Zippi Shelters and Play Tunnels.

With a 3 panel wide rabbit platform, you can even position a Zippi Shelter at either end and connect them together with a Play Tunnel. Or position one rabbit Shelter on the platform and one below. Don’t forget to pop some hay inside the Shelter on the platform so your rabbits can nibble away on a snack while they wait for the storm to pass!

L-shape suite

The Corner Platform for rabbits with a multi panel platform pack can be used to create an L shape mezzanine area with 2 ramps. Depending on the length and width of your Zippi enclosure you can either position both ramps in the same direction, or create a slight spiral effect like in the image below.

Here we have used a Corner Platform for rabbits, attached to a Zippi Platforms 3 panel pack, in a 3 x 3 double height Zippi Run.

Down and straight back up!

In a longer Zippi run, around 4 or 5 panels in length, you can position Zippi Platforms opposite each other so your rabbits can run straight down one ramp, and back up another for a loop-the-loop circuit! Don’t forget the Zippi Platforms are strong and sturdy so your rabbit will feel safe to jump and hop up and down the ramp.

Lunch on the balcony, sir?

Position Caddi Treat Holders to hang over the platforms so your rabbits can enjoy their lunch with a garden view. Mix up the ingredients in the slow release feeder to keep rabbits excited, and ensure a 5 star rating for your new bunny bar! These feed toys can also be used as a hay rack to keep the floor of your rabbits’ house or play area clean.

Zippi Tunnel to the first floor!

Combine the Zippi Platforms with our popular Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System by positioning your Zippi Tunnel entrance up on the platform level. This means your rabbits can hop up and down the Zippi Tunnel to get from one enclosure to their platforms, down the ramp and into another Zippi Run.

Here we have used the Zippi Platforms with a Zippi Tunnel Twin Pack with Hutch to Run Connection Kit and Zippi Tunnel Supports to connect a Zippi Run and an Eglu Go Hutch Run. You could also use the tunnels to connect your wooden rabbit house to another enclosure.

For more information about Zippi Platforms for rabbits, click here.
For information on caring for your rabbits, click here.

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Christmas Gift Guide – For the Rabbit Owner

2 x 2 Outdoor Rabbit Run

Any rabbit owner looking for more space for their pets will be delighted to receive this 2×2 Outdoor Rabbit Run. The run is extremely stable and secure, and can be connected to an existing Eglu Go Hutch with or without run with a simple connection kit.

This is perfect if you, or the person you’re buying a gift for, want to give rabbits or guinea pigs a bit more space to play on in the garden. Choose between the full or low height, both are currently 10% off in the Omlet Winter Sale!

Zippi Tunnels, Play Pens & Runs

Zippi is the perfect way to enhance your pets’ life. The amazing tunnel system allows you to create a burrow-like path in your garden that your rabbits and guinea pigs will love exploring. Expand with corners and T-junctions, and add intrigue with hayracks and lookout towers!

The Zippi Tunnel System also makes it super easy for your pets to independently move between their hutch and a remote run or playpen, so that they can come and go as they want throughout the day.

This is the perfect opportunity to extend an existing system, or to start a completely new one! All Zippi Tunnel System parts are discounted by 20% in the Winter Sale, and the Zippi Run and Playpens are currently 10% off!

Caddi

The Caddi is the perfect stocking filler for any small animal lover. This interactive treat holder can be hung from the roof of any hutch or run, and can be filled with fresh vegetables or hay for rabbits and guinea pigs to enjoy.

It’s super easy to refill, will keep the pets’ snacks fresher for longer, and they will love the challenge of the swinging Caddi as they go in for a bite!

Save 15% on the Caddi right now!

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Which is the Best Rabbit for you?

Rabbits make great family pets, and there are many different breeds to choose from. Some are suitable for first-time owners, while others require a little more expertise. The following list includes rabbits that can be kept by families or individuals with no previous experience of rabbits.

There is one golden rule that covers all rabbits – they are not suitable for young children. Most rabbits do not like being constantly picked up, they are naturally nervous, and they need gentle but confident handling. They are also quite fragile animals, and can easily break limbs, or even their backs, if they fall from your arms.

So, as long as you handle them with care and give them plenty of space to run around in, these seven widely available breeds will soon be firm family favourites.

Dutch Rabbit

Dwarf Lops

English Spot

Dutch Rabbits

If they have not become accustomed to people in their first few months, Dutch Rabbits can be very jumpy, and may bite and claw. When buying from a pet shop, always ask how old the rabbit is, as animals more than 12 weeks old may be tricky to tame.

This comes back to that central point – most rabbits don’t like being picked up. If your pets are going to be spending their time in a run, though, without being handled all the time, age is not an issue.

Dwarf Lops

Being small, these rabbits used to be popular gifts for children. However, small does not mean easier to handle or easier to look after – in rabbits or any other type of pet. Dwarf Lops are fine for children who are able to learn how to handle rabbits correctly, and who are happy to groom their pet regularly to prevent the long fur from tangling. They are not suitable for small children, though.

English Spots

The English Spot is a black and white beauty, instantly recognisable due to its Dalmatian-like spots. They are placid rabbits, and if they are stroked and petted from a young age, they become very happy in human company. Children should still be supervised when interacting with these rabbits, though, as even a chilled breed like the English Spot can become skittish if there is too much noise or inexpert handling.

Flemish Giant

Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits

Rex Rabbit

Flemish Giants

One of the great things about the Flemish Giant – and it really is huge – is its chilled-out temperament. If socialised while they are still very young, they can be taught to use a litter tray, and can live in a house like a pet dog. However, they still need to be treated with respect and handled correctly, to prevent them panicking and using those big teeth.

Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits

This breed is increasingly popular, and a lot of that popularity is based on the rabbit’s super-cute looks. No matter how old it gets, it always looks like a baby. As a result, it is often bought for children, but this sometimes results in a very nervous and skittish pet that never properly settles down. This is because the rabbit is naturally timid, and unintentionally rough, noisy, excited handling can turn it into a nervous wreck.

The Netherlands Dwarf is an intelligent breed, though, and responds well to gentle handling. It is therefore essential that children should handle the rabbit gently, and an adult should be present during handling sessions. The patience pays off in the end, as this clever little rabbit can be litter trained, and can even be taught to respond to simple commands.

Rex Rabbits

There are several different types of Rex, all with a genetic quirk that makes their short fur stand up rather than lie flat. This makes them very ‘strokable’, and fortunately, the rex is a rabbit breed that really doesn’t mind being stroked a lot. Their placid nature makes them popular family pets – although, once again, younger children will still need supervising when making friends with these bunnies.

The key takeaways here are that rabbits are not the easiest pets to look after, but with patience and appropriate handling they can become very attached to their human friends. It’s also worth remembering that, unlike smaller pets such as gerbils and hamsters, rabbits can live for eight to 14 years, so being an owner is a big commitment.

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Will My Rabbits Be Okay Outside in Winter?

We often get questions from new rabbit owners about how to care for rabbits in the winter and asking if their pet rabbits will be happier inside during winter. We’ve put together the advice we normally give in this blog, so that everyone can make their own decision about whether bringing the rabbit into the house or keeping your pet outside is the best option for you. 

  1. Can rabbits live outside during the winter months?
  2. But will they be happier inside?
  3. How cold is too cold for rabbits?
  4. What can I do to help my rabbits in winter?

Can rabbits live outside during the winter months?

Yes, as long as your pet rabbits are healthy and have a hutch that will keep them warm and dry, letting your bunnies stay outdoors for the winter months shouldn’t be a problem. 

Both wild and pet rabbits cope relatively well with colder temperatures (they actually struggle a lot more with heat), as long as they have a dry and sheltered area where they can hide in cold weather. For wild rabbits, this is their underground warrens, and for your pet bunny it will be a well designed hutch and run. 

It’s important that you make sure that your rabbits’ home has got everything they need to keep warm and dry while it is still nice and warm outside. If the hutch is damaged in any way you will want to have time to fix it, or to get a completely new house for your bunnies, before it gets too cold.

The Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch with insulated walls will protect your rabbits from the wind and rain, and keep them warm even when the weather gets really bad. The draft free ventilation makes sure fresh air moves around the hutch, without making it damp or cold. 

But will they be happier inside?

Not necessarily. Indoor rabbits will need to adjust to their new home, and if it’s the first time they are taken indoors, this can be a bit distressing to start with. You will need to provide them with a safe area where the temperature won’t fluctuate massively they will get enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout winter. 

The important thing when it comes to keeping rabbits in winter, whether you decide to stick with the outdoor hutch or let them come inside the house, is to make a decision and stick to it. 

When summer is over and the temperatures start dropping, the rabbits will grow a thicker winter coat and fur pads on their feet. This will gradually get thicker as the months go by. The coat is great at keeping the rabbit warm outdoors, but once the rabbit is fully prepared for winter, you will have lost your window of opportunity to move them indoors. 

A rabbit with winter fur should not be taken indoors unless absolutely necessary. Rabbits can’t sweat, and the sudden heat will quickly raise the rabbit’s body temperature to dangerous levels. In serious cases, this temperature shock can be fatal, so make sure you make a decision about where the rabbits live, and keep them there permanently. 

How cold is too cold for rabbits?

It’s difficult to say a specific temperature at which you should start worrying about the wellbeing of your bunnies. If it has gradually got colder over a longer period of time, your pets will have thickened their coat, and will be fine in temperatures as cold as -10. It’s more problematic if the temperature suddenly drops, as the rabbit will not have had enough time to get used to the cold. 

If you’re worried, consider the option of moving the hutch into a shed or garage. Rather than moving the bunnies indoors straight away, you can keep them covered and sheltered for a bit before you decide if they can go back out into the garden, or if they need to move inside permanently. 

If you let the rabbit live in a warmer area, he or she will within a few days start shedding its thick fur, and after about a week you will not be able to move them out into freezing temperatures again. This is another reason it’s important to choose a course of action and stick to it. 

Any animal in distress should be taken straight to the vet to get help and advice. The main worry for a pet rabbit living outside in cold weather conditions is hypothermia and pneumonia. To prevent these owners must check on their pet regularly and make sure their home is safe, warm enough and free from damp areas. 

What can I do to help my rabbits in winter?

This advice applies if you keep rabbits in an outdoor rabbit hutch and run. If you’re moving your pets inside you won’t have to worry too much about protecting them from bad weather. 

• Exercise

The rabbits still need to run and exercise as much as they do in summer, but make sure you’re also giving them the opportunity to go inside the hutch and rest if they need. The Eglu Go Hutch with run connected to a Zippi tunnel with additional runs and play pens lets the animals run between different areas as and when they like. Moving about will help your rabbit stay warm, and will keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Provide a few extra toys, tunnels and hidey-holes that they can run between.

• Position and cover

Move your outdoor rabbit hutch to a sheltered area of the garden, facing away from the prevailing wind and rain. 

During the day, cover the roof of the run with a clear cover that will prevent your rabbits getting wet and damp, while still letting the light in.

• Bedding

Provide plenty of extra bedding in the hutch, and put an extra layer of newspaper and straw at the base of the hutch if you’re worried moisture and cold air will get into the hutch that way. 

Regularly check the hutch and make sure your pets have plenty of dry, warming bedding. Blankets or hot water bottles are not a good idea as the rabbits are likely to chew them, but you can put a microwavable heat pad in with the hay that will provide extra warmth to your pet. 

• Food, water and treats

If they are living outside, your pet rabbits need to eat more in the winter to stay well. Digesting food will heat their bodies and help them keep warm.

We advise giving your rabbits more food gradually as the weather gets colder. Check if anything has been left at the end of the day, then you are giving them too much. Give them plenty of treats, both healthy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, and shop bought chew treats that will wear down their teeth.  Always make sure they have a good amount of hay in the hutch, as hay should make up a high percentage of your bunny’s diet.

Check your rabbit’s water bottle regularly to make sure the water is fresh and hasn’t frozen. It may be good to have two bottles, so you can swap them every time you go outside to see your animals. 


Photos by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

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Upgrade Your Rabbit Run This Autumn

Two children outside with two rabbits in the Zippi tunnel attached to the Eglu Go Hutch outside

Autumn is the perfect opportunity to take some time to make sure your bunnies are happy with their setup in the garden. Whether you’re planning to let them stay outside over winter or move them inside before the real winter chill, there are still a few months left where your bunnies might need a bit of extra help and support. Here are some easy ways to upgrade the rabbit run!

Extensions

First of all, take a good look at your run and assess if it is good enough for your beloved bunnies, or if there is room for improvement. Whether they have an Eglu Run, Outdoor Rabbit Run or Zippi Run, you can make it larger with practical and easily assembled extension panels. That way your bunnies have more space to run around on, and you can add more fun accessories that will keep them busy in the colder months. 

Caddi

Leftover food and treats lying around the run not only makes it look a bit sad and untidy, it can also attract rodents and other pests, and if you’re not vigilant with your cleaning your rabbits might accidentally ingest something that has gone mouldy. 

A great way of upgrading your run, and feeding your pets yummy and nutritious treats, is to get a Caddi Treat Holder. Fill it with fresh grass, allotment veg or some chopped up fruit, and hang from the top of the run. The rabbits will love the swinging motion of the holder as they try to grab a delicious mouthful, and the spillage will be minimal. Additionally, you will be able to keep track of when you gave your rabbits which treats, so you can alternate between different ones and make sure nothing that has gone off is still in the run. 

Platforms

Everyone knows that rabbits love to hop! Adding platforms to your rabbit’s run is a great way to let your rabbit bounce to their heart’s content, whilst you make the most of the usable space that you have in their Zippi Run. Platforms will provide your fluffy friend with more places to explore, which in turn will help to strengthen their muscles as they jump up and down on their new adventure playground. The Omlet platforms are also suitable for use all year round, so you can still get the most out of this feature for when the weather gets cooler over autumn.

 

A woman outside in Autumn with two rabbits in their run
A blue eyed rabbit looking through a pink Zippi shelter

Shelters

The Zippi Shelters will be a great addition to your run this autumn, as they provide both (surprise surprise) shelter and an invitation to stimulating play. Rabbits have a natural instinct to seek a hidey hole, and in the wild they create ‘rooms’ in their warrens where they can come to relax and have a nap. The Zippi Shelters will provide exactly this, but in your pet rabbits’ run. They will also love running in and out of, or jumping on top of the Shelter to survey their surroundings. 

Although the rabbits will always have their hutch to retreat to when it gets wet or windy, it’s great to have another spot where they can get away from the inevitable autumn showers. The shelters are sturdy and waterproof, and your rabbits will love hopping in to relax. 

Treats

As it gets colder your rabbits will use more energy to stay warm, so it’s the ideal time to stock up on treats for the cupboard. Make sure you find a good balance between fresh fruit and veg and shop bought treats to put on the run, like these Nettle and Dandelion roots that are full of vitamins and minerals, or the Beaphar Crunch Sticks that encourage healthy dental wear. 

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