One of the most commonly asked questions from pet parents of smaller breeds of animals is whether or not rabbits and guinea pigs can live together. They are both small, cute and cuddly, live in hutches (or a super stylish Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch!) and like vegetables but that is pretty much where the similarities end.
It used to be fairly standard practice for Guineas and Bunnies to live together, this was because neutering smaller animals wasn’t seen as a safe option. Things have most definitely changed since then and this is no longer a concern. The other reason behind this cohabitation is that the saying “breeding like rabbits” is very true! It was thought that by keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together it would prevent mass breeding.
A rabbit’s reproductive cycle is pretty fast, almost immediately after giving birth they can conceive again, and even though the average litter size is 5, it could be even higher! The largest recorded rabbit litter is 24, born to two New Zealand rabbits!
So, if a plethora of bunnies is not for you then your option would have been to let them share the living space with a guinea pig. It’s company after all, right? Wrong, in an ideal world, it would be perfect, however, it is not always meant to be.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs are not really recommended to share their living quarters. Here, we look into the reasons behind why this seemingly suitable match made in heaven and lifelong friendship, won’t always be ideal.
They have different diets
Many consider these small pets to be similar in many ways, however, their dietary needs are quite different. Even though both mammals require hay, vegetables and fruit for a balanced diet there is something fundamentally different about how they process their vitamin intake.
Guinea pigs need Vitamin C to ensure they have a healthy diet because just like humans, they are unable to synthesise the vitamin alone, due to a gene deficiency. Vitamin C is found in citric fruits and is necessary for survival. Rabbits, on the other hand, can synthesise this particular vitamin, and if they are given too much then it could make them sick.
Housing them together and allowing them to share a food bowl, may only be meeting the needs of one, which could cause health problems down the line for the other.
Rabbits bully guinea pigs
This may seem like a bold statement, but it is a possibility and one to be wary of. Our floppy-eared friends are bigger and somewhat stronger than their smaller counterparts. When it comes to food, especially if they are sharing, Peter Rabbit could quite easily push little Mini Guinea out of the way and assert their authority over them. This would result in a tempestuous relationship, especially if your guinea pig is being deprived of food!
Rabbits also love to bounce and hop around as they are very energetic creatures, so playtime could be slightly one-sided and maybe a little rough for your guinea pig who is a little more docile.
They communicate differently
Picture this, you’ve got your feet up, you’re comfortable and have a cup of tea on the side and are ready to read the Sunday papers, and all of a sudden your housemate decides to throw a Hawaiian themed party and invite the whole neighbourhood. That’s a little bit like living with a rabbit (from the perspective of a guinea pig!). Despite both being quite sociable little creatures, guineas do like their own space and time to relax, whereas rabbits tend to thrive from attention, either from regular mating or huddling together with their companions, grooming each other. This type of behaviour can be quite stressful for a guinea pig.
They are a different species after all and will not speak the same language. If they cannot communicate with each other then they could suffer from boredom and loneliness. Whereas if there are lots of rabbits and guinea pigs they will feel happier being with their own kind.
There are health risks
Both animals can be affected by Bordetella bronchiseptica which is a bacterial infection that can lead to bronchitis. It is more severe for guinea pigs, whereas rabbits display very few symptoms.
Another potential threat is Pasteurella which is passed through saliva, for example biting. Again, this is less of a threat to rabbits but more dangerous to guinea pigs. If rabbits and guinea pigs are living together, it could cause health risks which could be detrimental to a safe environment.
How to keep them safe if they do live together
Despite the recommendation that rabbits and guinea pigs should not house share, there may be some exceptions. Introducing them to each other when they are kittens and pups means they may grow to love one another and see each other as friends, not foes. Bringing in a new guinea pig into an environment with an older bunny could lead to a hierarchical imbalance.
You might find that they share a bond or have become the best of friends, or you simply can’t house them separately. If that is the case then there are ways you can accommodate their differences.
Create a safe space for your guinea pig
If your guinea pig needs to retreat for a moment or two then having its own space is so important. Omlet has created products that can be extended, interconnected and upgraded providing you with a simple solution when it comes to creating a unique space for your animals. Start with the Eglu Go Guinea Pig hutch which is super easy to assemble and clean. It provides that perfectly safe peaceful space for your guinea pig!
Feed your pets separately
Rather than sharing a food bowl, which we have discovered could be problematic, feed your guinea pig separately from your rabbit. Consider having a different area to feed your rabbit, like in their own enclosure.
Ensure your rabbit is neutered
Nowadays neutering small pets has become a lot safer and far more common, so it would be recommended if you plan to keep multiple rabbits or keep them with guinea pigs. Since we know that rabbits have the urge to mate constantly, this would not only be annoying for your guinea pig but it could also lead to back injuries, considering they are smaller in stature in comparison to a rabbit. By neutering your rabbit they will have less of a desire to mount their hutch-buddy!
Of course, there is no reason why you can’t have rabbits or guinea pigs. It is possible to create separate living areas so that they can sleep apart and have space for themselves (guinea pigs mostly), and an extensive play area (rabbits!) to keep them energised and entertained. To improve on this architectural masterpiece, provide them with a communal playpen, with an interconnecting tunnel system.
It’s not as though they can’t live together, it is possible, though it is not recommended and hopefully this article has provided enough information as to why. If you have experience of rabbits and guinea pigs living in harmony together or perhaps not, then please share your stories in the comments section below.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Is your rabbit a happy bunny? Of course, any pet parent only wants their beloved furry friend to be happy and healthy, so how exactly can you fulfil your rabbit’s needs? Here are our top tips for how to make your rabbit happy!
Good Diet and Fresh Water
First and foremost to ensure your rabbit is happy, they’ll need a good, balanced diet and a constant supply of fresh water. Just as we feel our best when we’re eating well and staying hydrated, so do our pet rabbits! In fact, a large cause of illness in these animals can be traced back to dangerous or wrongly proportioned feeding.
Therefore, a rabbit’s diet should consist of around 80% high-quality hay, and they should always have an unlimited supply available to them. However, hay alone will not provide your pet with all of the nutrients they require. They should also then be given pellet food with ideally a 20-25% fibre content. Muesli style foods should be avoided when choosing a feed for your pet rabbit. This can unfortunately lead to complications with a rabbit’s digestive system and cause issues with a rabbit’s ever-growing teeth. Take a look at Omlet’s range of rabbit food to help you decide what would best suit your rabbit.
Your fluffy friend should also be supplied with greens as part of their diet. However, just be mindful that leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard and cabbage, whilst nutritious, must be given in moderation. To find out more about the best diet for your rabbit, read our previous blog What Should Rabbits Eat? which will tell you everything your rabbit needs to consume to stay happy and healthy!
Water Bottle or Bowl?
When it comes to giving your rabbits water, there are two options – a bottle or a bowl. Fortunately, Omlet has both to choose from! The rabbit bowls and water bottles section will help you to pick a suitable choice to suit depending on your circumstance. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that giving your rabbit water from a bowl is a more natural way for a rabbit to drink. Bowls, however, can be knocked over and wet your rabbit’s bedding. On the flip side, a water bottle helps to reduce water waste and helps to keep your rabbit’s water supply at one temperature.
Give Your Rabbit Yummy Treats
As well as providing your rabbit with a healthy, balanced diet, giving your rabbit a few yummy treats will go a long way too! Omlet has a wide range of rabbit treats that can be fed to your pet (in moderation of course!). Most rabbits also love fresh vegetables so you can even offer these as a treat too. To find a list of what vegetables are suitable for your rabbit to remain happy and healthy, read our blog Which Fruit and Vegetables Can I Feed my Rabbit? for some further clarification.
Protection From Illness, Injury and Disease
None of us like feeling under the weather, including our floppy-eared friends! Your rabbit’s health is paramount to keeping them happy! It’s important that as a responsible owner, you stay on top of everything they need to protect them from illness, injury and disease.
Omlet stocks a wide range of rabbit health and hygiene products, designed to keep your pet rabbit in tip-top condition or help them recover from minor ailments. The Options Small Animal Mini Grooming Kit is a great rabbit care product, which will not only mean your rabbit’s fur will be looking great, but will also help the both of you to build a bond.
If you are concerned that your rabbit’s normal behaviour has changed, or you suspect they are unwell at all, do not hesitate to take them to their vet.
They Need Somewhere Suitable to Live
There’s no place like home! Rabbits need a secure and suitable place to live, whether you’re keeping a rabbit inside your house, or they are in a hutch like Omlet’s Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch outside. The Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch is a great choice for pet rabbits, perfect for all year round and suitable to house up to two happy rabbits.
Rabbits also of course need rabbit bedding to stay happy! Omlet’s rabbit bedding is suitable for either your Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch or any other bunny home. Dirty bedding increase the chances of them developing horrible conditions such as myiasis, also known as flystrike for a start. Also, your rabbit won’t be happy staying in an unclean environment. In general, these pets like to stay clean and will look after themselves by licking away dirt.
Your Omlet Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch can also easily be extended to offer your rabbit more outside space. Rabbits need to be kept on their toes and with such powerful hind legs that can reach 50 miles per hour, they need space to run! The Omlet Zippi Playpen is ideal for making sure your rabbit has enough room to hop around to their heart’s content, whilst keeping safe. Similarly, the Outdoor Rabbit Run will keep rabbits secure when exploring, and since it’s extendable in width, length and height, it’s suitable for rabbits of all sizes! Find out about all the possibilities of how you can give your rabbits more space with Zippi.
House Rabbits Too!
If you opt to keep domestic rabbits as house pets, then the same applies in that your rabbit’s home still needs to be somewhere they feel safe and comfortable. You’ll need to rabbit proof your home for one, if you do decide to go down this route. This means that you will need to consider all potential hazards e.g. electrical cables, furniture, and house plants to ensure your home is suitable. Furthermore, if you are planning on litter training your rabbit, might want to consider neutering them. Neutered rabbits are a lot easier to litter train. In fact, an unneutered rabbit is almost impossible to litter train completely!
Give Your Rabbit Lots of Attention
Rabbits love attention from their owners once they’re comfortable. And just like any other pet, you should interact with your bunny to continue building a long-lasting bond. You can do this via play, training, or simply speaking to them! Talk to your rabbit in a soft tone, and they’ll soon get used to your voice. You should be able to tell if your rabbit is enjoying your company with a few tell-tale signs that we’ll go into shortly.
Respect Your Rabbit’s Boundaries
As with any animal, it’s important to respect a rabbit’s boundaries to ensure they live a happy life. Whilst rabbits are sociable animals who love showing their owners affection and make for great pets, the average rabbit is also naturally nervous, being prey animals.
One way to respect your rabbit’s boundaries is by reading their body language and responding based on this. For example, a happy rabbit will do ‘the bunny flop’ when they’re feeling happy and relaxed, whereby they will roll on their back with their legs in the air. However, a nose nudge could mean your rabbit wants to be left alone. If you’re new to keeping rabbits, you might be a bit unfamiliar with reading this language. Take a read of our Learn to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language so that you are able to identify when your rabbit is, or isn’t, in the mood to play”
What Noise Do Rabbits Make When They Are Happy?
A rabbit will also communicate vocally to let you know how they’re feeling. The sound of low grunting and grinding of teeth means that the rabbit is content and relaxed. However, if your rabbit lets out a scream, this is their way of telling you that they’re scared or in a lot of pain. As you develop a bond with your bunny, it will become easier to identify how they’re feeling and their likes.
Do Bunnies Like Being Held?
Generally speaking, rabbits do not like being held. Even more so if they have not become accustomed to it from a young age. Therefore, for this reason, some rabbit breeds don’t fit in well with households with small children. This being said, breeds like the French Lops and Dutch Rabbits are renowned for getting on well with young children who will be tempted to touch the new pet! For a bit more breed information on what would work best, read Omlet’s rabbit breed guide.
Create Fun Play Areas
Healthy rabbits need to be kept entertained to remain happy and in the best condition they can be! You can do this by creating lots of fun play areas in their outdoor run space or make your house rabbit happy by introducing accessories to the home. Outdoors, the Zippi Rabbit Playtunnel and Zippi Rabbit Run Platforms are great ways to make sure that your rabbit is mentally stimulated. Platforms also prevent the risk of obesity and injury. Both of this are to be avoided if you want to keep your rabbit happy! Read about more of the benefits of exercise across multiple levels with platforms with our blog Platforms: Benefits of Exercise Across Multiple Levels.
Omlet’s Zippi Rabbit Shelter is also brilliant to add to your rabbit’s environment. Since rabbits have a natural instinct to seek a hidey hole, the Zippi Rabbit Shelter provides this desired protection from the outside elements, as well as being somewhere your pet can sit safely in, whilst observing their surroundings.
Likewise, a Zippi Rabbit Tunnel also encourages a rabbit’s natural instinct to burrow, and a tunnel provides them with a sense of safety and shelter. You can give your bunny rabbits their own warren by connecting their rabbit hutch.
Give Your Rabbit Massages
Did you know that rabbits love massages?! So much so, that rabbits who have regular massages are said to be calmer and less stressed than pet rabbits that don’t! You should always be gentle and move slowly when massaging your rabbit and use a long gliding stroke. Start from down your rabbit’s head, following on to their neck and back. Eventually, end at the top of your rabbit’s tail. It goes without saying that you should gauge how your rabbit is reacting and of course stop if you sense that they’re not relaxed or enjoying the massage. However, if they are, continue to gently massage around their neck and ear base.
Introduce Your Rabbit to a Companion
Whilst your pet rabbit can live a happy life as an ‘only rabbit’, they’ll also appreciate another rabbit friend for them to live with. Getting companion rabbits is a good idea because whilst this desire for having a friend can partially be met with their human pal i.e. you, rabbits can potentially get lonely without a rabbit companion of their own.
Again, because rabbits are a prey species, they enjoy the presence of and find comfort in a friend. One reason for this is because it means not having to look out for predators by themselves. This can then cause a rabbit to be anxious. However, do note that if you do get rabbits of the opposite sex, you will need to spay or neuter them to prevent baby bunnies. There are also other advantages to this, such as reducing the chances of female rabbits developing uterine cancer for example.
Use Positive Reinforcement Training
Whilst training a rabbit might not exactly be the same as training a dog, rabbits do require mental stimulation. Training is a great way of doing this! You can even train a rabbit to do a few tricks like how to give you a high 5! Find out how with this How to Teach Your Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Tricks blog, but the key here is to praise your pet when they’ve demonstrated the behaviour that you have asked for and never to shout at them when they have done something you don’t want.
Give Them a Variety of Toys
Finally, give your rabbit a variety of rabbit toys to play with! There’s a wide range of rabbit toys available, designed to enrich your pets’ environment! As a rabbit owner, it’s your job to find out what your rabbit likes best.
Don’t forget that getting a rabbit is a long term commitment. It’s essential to do your research to ensure you can offer them a fulfilled happy life! If you have a rabbit already, hopefully, after these top tips, you can get the spring back in their step!
This entry was posted in Rabbits
Bringing home any pet is an exciting time for the whole family. But just like any other animal, rabbits require your full dedication and the right tools to make sure that they get off to a great start and live happy and fulfilled lives! So, to help you out, here is our new rabbit checklist, so that you can tick off everything you’ll be needing for your new furry addition.
Hay/Bedding – A Must for Your New Rabbit Checklist
A great place to begin before getting your new pet rabbit is by making sure you have plenty of rabbit hay/bedding. Not only is fresh hay an important part of a rabbit’s diet, but they also require plenty for their bedding. Omlet stocks a large choice of rabbit bedding to tick off your new rabbit checklist – suitable for any rabbit home, including Omlet’s own Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch, to ensure that your new pet gets the comfiest night’s sleep!
Hay is also ideal for encouraging a rabbit’s natural instinct to forage, whereby in the wild, they would search for wild food sources. Foraging also helps to keep rabbits mentally stimulated. You’ll find that a rabbit who is only fed pellets from their food dish, as opposed to a balanced diet including hay, can end up eating too quickly, which can, in turn, make them unwell. Furthermore, a balanced diet for your rabbits will keep their teeth in good condition as well!
Rabbit Food and Bowls
A rabbit’s diet should consist of dry food, fresh food, and hay. Omlet has a wide range of rabbit food that has been carefully selected, offering nutritious and balanced options so that you can pick the right food to suit the needs of your new pet rabbit.
Most rabbits love fruit and vegetables, so it’s a good idea to include these in their diet too. Whilst you might associate rabbits with gnawing away at carrots, this type of vegetable can actually cause constipation in rabbits, and make sugar levels rise dangerously if over consumed. The Caddi Rabbit Treat Holder is the perfect way to feed your rabbits fruit and veg. Not only will it provide your bunny with entertainment, but will benefit you too by improving run cleanliness and reducing food wastage. So if you plan on feeding your rabbit with nature’s very own treats, make sure to read our previous blog Which Fruit and Vegetables Can I Feed my Rabbit? where you can find a list of the fruits and vegetables that are suitable for your furry friend to be fed.
As well as food and an unlimited supply of fresh water, you should also make sure that your rabbit has a food dish alongside either a water bottle or water bowl. Some owners opt to use a bottle over a bowl, but this really is your decision to make. Whilst bowls can easily get knocked over and wet your rabbit’s bedding, they are more of a natural way for a rabbit to drink. This being said, a water bottle reduces water waste and is usually better than a bowl when it comes to keeping your rabbit’s water supply at the same temperature. You can find a selection of rabbit bowls and rabbit water bottles in the Omlet shop.
Whilst rabbits need to be fed a healthy diet, the occasional treat won’t go amiss! Treats are a brilliant way of rewarding your rabbit and Omlet’s rabbit treats are perfect for just that! Your new pet rabbit will also absolutely love the Himalayan Salt Lick Stone, which can be hung up in your rabbit’s enclosure and help them to get in essential minerals and salts.
A Rabbit Hutch That’ll Last
Your new rabbit will of course need somewhere to live! Add the Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch to your new rabbit checklist – ideal for any prospective rabbit owner and will keep your bunnies safe from the outside elements and any predators. Even better, the Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch comes with a hay rack, feed bowl and water bottle, making keeping rabbits hassle-free! Furthermore, the Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch has a removable bedding tray, which means you won’t have to purchase a removable litter box for cleaning up after your pet.
If you opt to have a house rabbit, you’ll need to make sure that wherever they stay, they are in a bunny proofed room. You’ll find it helpful to read our guide on How To Rabbit-Proof Your House for some more information on this topic.
New Rabbit Checklist Essential: A Safe and Secure Run!
As well as your rabbits having a hutch or home to live in, they’ll also require a safe and secure run to provide them with some extra freedom and time for hopping around, so this definitely should not be missed off of your new rabbit checklist! One of the leading causes as to why rabbits dig, therefore potentially escaping from their run, is because of boredom. We wrote about this topic on our previous blog Rabbits and Digging if you’d like to find out more information on this area.
Fortunately, the Omlet Walk in Rabbit Run not only offers plenty of room for your rabbit to hop to its heart’s content but will also keep them secure and safe from any other pets or predators. The run has a stable style door, which means that the top and bottom of the door open independently so that you can throw in some treats for your rabbits without the worry of them making an escape! Alternatively, you can create the ultimate rabbit adventure playground with the Omlet Zippi Rabbit Playpen, which can connect to their run and hutch for more space.
Within your rabbit’s run, you’ll want to provide them with plenty of stimulation. Omlet has everything you need to keep your rabbits bouncing around with joy, from the Zippi Playtunnel designed to mimic a rabbit burrow in the wild, to Zippi Rabbit Platforms, that will provide you rabbit new places to explore!
Something else to tick off your new rabbit checklist is toys! Just like our other pets, rabbits need to play, which means they’ll need plenty of toys to enrich their environment and keep their minds ticking! The Omlet Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System connects your rabbit’s run to their hutch but also doubles as a fantastic toy that your rabbit will love. You can also opt for hanging toys that can be attached to your rabbit’s run.
Somewhere to Hide
Your new rabbit will also need somewhere to hide. Although it might sound odd, rabbits actually have a natural instinct to hide in order to stay protected. In the wild, this is done so that they can keep safe from predators such as foxes. Hiding is also a rabbit’s natural response to fear, if they feel stressed, are in pain, are unwell, or just want a break from social contact! Omlet’s Rabbit Zippi Shelter is ideal for rabbits to carry out this behaviour, providing them with a safe space where they can retreat to relax.
A rabbit’s nails should not go neglected, so you’ll need to make sure you have nail clippers at the ready! In fact, nail clipping is an essential part of rabbit care, and you’ll need to do so approximately once every two months due to the remarkably quick rate they grow at.
Whilst nail clipping isn’t too long of a process, if you’re not confident doing so, you can always make a visit to the vet and they will be able to give you a helping hand.
New Rabbit Checklist Conclusion
So, whether you’re getting a new baby bunny or rescuing an adult rabbit, hopefully, you will now be prepared for what is to come when your new pet arrives home!
This entry was posted in Rabbits
We all know that dogs have been man’s best friend for centuries, but have you ever thought about friendship with a pet rabbit? Just like dogs, rabbits are highly social animals. This means that they enjoy the company of others, be it of their own species or ours! In fact, evidence even suggests that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives! With so much love to give, these sweet natured, fluffy creatures can make for the perfect pets. So, could rabbits be your new best friends?
Why Should I Get a Rabbit?
First and foremost, rabbits are very loving pets and will show their owners affection in a number of ways. So rest assured, you could be on your way to becoming your rabbit’s bestie in no time! If you’re considering getting a rabbit, you’ll grow to learn his or her specific body language. However, generally speaking, a rabbit that loves their owner will display this by purring, running around your feet, or even grooming you!
Putting aside just how irresistibly cute these animals are of course, they’re also incredibly amusing and will provide you with plenty of entertainment. So that your rabbits can become your new best friends, they need plenty of play time with you! Rabbits love playing with a wide array of rabbit toys, which not only helps them keep active, but will provide them with plenty of mental stimulation. And after a hard day’s work of hopping around, you can treat them to a few tasty rabbit treats – the perfect bonding experience!
Rabbits are also particularly appealing to those who would like a furry friend in their life but might not be ready to take on a cat or a dog just yet, that need that extra bit of time being walked or trained. This being said, rabbits still very much require your full dedication as an owner.
What To Consider Before Getting Rabbits
As with taking on the responsibility of any pet, you need to consider whether a rabbit could fit into your lifestyle. Rabbits might not require as much time or training as say a dog would. However, they still do desire companionship and stimulation to live the happy, fulfilled lives they deserve.
Something to consider before getting rabbits is your family dynamic. Although rabbits are commonly associated with being ‘starter pets’, they’re not suitable for young children in some circumstances. This is predominantly for the reason that many rabbits are naturally nervous and don’t like being handled. If your rabbit does have to be picked up, it should be done very gently, which unfortunately doesn’t often go hand in hand with very young children! This being said, some breeds are known to get along well with younger members of the family. The French Lops for example love socialising and won’t mind being handled.
Could Rabbits Be Your Pets’ New Best Friends?
If you’ve also got other pets, this will be something else to think about before bringing home your new addition. Fortunately, many of our other favourite pets do have the ability to get along with rabbits. However, this isn’t to say you should simply put your pets in one room at the same time and leave them be! Instead, slowly introduce your animals in a neural space, with a barrier such as a crate or fence.
If you’re introducing your rabbit to your dog, keep your dog on a lead at all times. Regardless of whether you’re introducing your rabbit to a cat, dog, or chicken, you should never leave them unsupervised during this stage. Keep a close eye on their interaction. You should watch out for whether your rabbit or other fluffy friend acts in an aggressive manner or seems anxious. You can read more about keeping rabbits and chickens together on our previous blog. Do also note however, that rabbits should not be kept with other small animals such as rats or guinea pigs.
Where to Get Rabbits
As with getting any animal, it’s important that rabbits are purchased/rescued from a reputable breeder or centre. Take time to do thorough research. Some rabbit breeds are best suited to owners with a little bit more experience than others.
Because of the misconception that rabbits are ‘easy pets’, there has been a surge in unwanted rabbits in shelters. The National Animal Welfare Trust is an organisation that offers a solution to this crisis. They ask that those interested in rabbit ownership consider fostering for a short period of time. This is so they can ensure that rabbits are being properly taken care of. It’s also so that prospective owners can see if a rabbit will suit your lifestyle before making the commitment. To find more information about the National Animal Welfare Trust, visit their website at www.nawt.org.uk.
If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to picking what rabbit breed would be best suited to you, take a look at our a-z Rabbit Breed Guide. Once you’ve narrowed your options down, have a read of our How to Choose the Right Rabbit Breed for You blog, so that you can find your match and new best friend! So, could rabbits be your new best friends?
This entry was posted in Rabbits
Do rabbits dig out of boredom, fun or general mischief? We look into the behaviours of our floppy-eared friends and delve deeper down the rabbit hole to discover why they dig. There are some simple Omlet approved hacks that might just do the trick!
In the wild
Wild rabbits live in burrows, a network of underground warrens where they feel safe and protected from predators such as foxes and dogs. Digging is a necessity, a matter of survival. Without it, they would be left open to attack, which is why rabbits have evolved into these digging machines!
Have you ever noticed just how big their paws are? All the better for pounding away at the dirt as well as their sharp claws and teeth, perfect for scraping at the earth. Maintaining their warrens is a big job too, no one else is going to do it!
All rabbits have their own behaviours and personalities, but females tend to be the most determined diggers because they instinctively prepare themselves for nesting. Certain traits like this will be apparent in our domesticated bunnies as often this behaviour is innate in them.
Fun & Exercise
Digging is not just instinctive though, it is a fun activity and also great exercise (think Zumba for rabbits!), so rather than trying and eliminate it completely it’s a good idea to give pet rabbits ways that they can use this natural behaviour without destroying areas of your home.
At Omlet we developed the Zippi rabbit tunnel system, so that our pet bunnies can feel at home and comfortable, whilst also keeping your garden intact!
The tunnels provide an extensive playground of interconnecting tunnels that keep rabbits entertained, similar to the burrows their wild ancestors would be used to.
Play is fundamental to the well-being and mental health of all animals and it’s a good sign when they play, though some are more mischievous than others.
Constant digging and disruption will not only cause havoc and be a general concern to you, but it could also be a sign that your rabbit is bored or lonely. These bunnies are naturally very sociable little creatures and love company, whether it’s from other rabbits, guinea pigs or even cats and dogs (this will depend on the nature of each animal, don’t take our word for it!). We do, however, recommend giving your rabbits a housemate or two, because they really do thrive in this environment. If you do only have one rabbit then they will need more attention and entertainment than those who cohabit.
Space to explore
If you start to notice some aggressive and disruptive behaviour in your rabbit it could be due to lack of space. Just because they are small mammals, they can still outgrow their living environment and will thrive from more space and stimulation. The Zippi Rabbit Playpens will provide your rabbit with more room to grow and explore in a safe environment.
They are simple to install, move and maintain and they can be easily extendable, offering endless possibilities and endless fun!
“The devil makes work for idle hands”, which can easily be applied to rabbits! The idler they are, the more trouble they will cause. So keeping busy equals less digging. Provide lots to do to keep your rabbit busy! Listed below are a few tips, or as we like to call them, bunny proofing tactics.
Place a cardboard box or a plastic box (which may last longer) in the hutch and fill it with soil, paper, twigs, anything that will provide a little resistance, so that the rabbit can satisfy the urge to dig while also burning some excess energy!
Scatter your rabbits’ favourite treats around a designated “digging spot” to reward their burrowing efforts and hopefully sway them from digging elsewhere. It may not work the first time, but over time, they should get used to the new routine, whilst being rewarded with some tasty rabbit snacks.
Indoor and outdoor rabbits enjoy organising! In other words, they like to pull, bite, tug and scratch the materials around them. This is called “bunching”. Not only is this a great source of entertainment, it also keeps them physically and mentally busy. Use some old bath mats, rugs or towels and let them “bunch” as much as they want, providing a good distraction from creating a huge hole in your flowerbed. Be careful with the type of fabric though, if anything shreds too easily it could become a choking hazard so keep an eye on it and be sure to change the fabric if it becomes too thin.
Some rabbits will dig out of frustration and the need to escape and find a mate. Spaying your rabbit will mean that it won’t have this impulse which could also lead to behavioural problems. It is also recommended that rabbits are spayed if they are living with other rabbits, even same-sex ones.
The Omlet Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch, is made from a strong steel mesh that deters predators! It also comes with an underfloor wire that can be placed in the run. This will not only prevent your rabbit from relentless digging, but it will also stop them from burrowing under the run and escaping. It is still recommended to have grassy areas for your rabbit to enjoy, but if you are really worried about escape then this is the ideal solution. It is more hygienic than a solid floor, with big enough gaps in the mesh so that it still provides the comfort of grass rather than uncomfortable hard ground or metal.
At Omlet we dedicate our time to developing products with the animal and the owner in mind For ease of use, comfort and safety and they are great to look at! A perfect addition to any pet lovers’ home. View all our rabbit related products and join the Omlet family!
This entry was posted in Rabbits
Providing your small pets with enough exercise and activity is extremely important for their mental and physical well-being. An under stimulated rabbit or guinea pig will easily become bored, which can result in unwanted behaviours and a lot of frustration. Luckily, there are things you as an owner can do to encourage movement and introduce more excitement into their lives. Here are some of our top tips:
Provide more space
It might seem obvious, but it’s much easier for a rabbit or guinea pig to get enough exercise if they have plenty of space to move around on. Extend their current small animal run, add new small animal playpens, or set up a room in the house or area of the garden where your pets can securely roam free.
Change things up
New things will excite and stimulate your rabbits and guinea pigs. However, they don’t need a completely new home every month to stay interested. Regularly swapping toys around or changing the setup of their hutch and run by moving accessories to new places will encourage them to explore, stimulating both brain and body!
Get them foraging
Rabbits and guinea pigs instinctively love searching for food. You can help them live out this natural interest by hiding treats in their enclosure, stuffing hay into small nooks or putting leaves, fruit and vegetables in a Caddi Guinea Pig or Rabbit Treat Holder. Anything that gets your pets working for the reward of some really good treats is great in terms of activating them!
Adding guinea pig and rabbit platforms to your enclosure is a great way of utilising all the space available. Guinea pigs will love running down ramps, and rabbits can use their long leg muscles to jump up onto platforms or steps. As if that wasn’t enough, rabbits especially love sitting up high and inspecting their surroundings, so giving them a lookout space is going to be very popular!
While it might not apply to the average guinea pig, you will struggle to find a rabbit that doesn’t absolutely love digging. If you don’t want them to ruin the lawn, giving them a designated digging pit is a good idea. A large plant pot or tray with loose soil will be a great start. You can also put some crumpled up newspaper in the bottom for your rabbit to shred.
Get involved with the playing
If your pet is comfortable with it, a great way of activating them is to play together. Get down to their level and give them some time to get used to your presence. Eventually they will likely approach you and you can slowly introduce games and interactive playing. You can bring toys and treats for encouragement, depending on what your pet likes.
Some rabbits and guinea pigs can also be mentally stimulated by learning tricks. We’ve got a blog on how to train your small pet if you think this might be for you!
Rabbits’ and guinea pigs’ teeth never stop growing, so to keep them in tip top shape your pets will need something to grind them down with. A constant supply of hay is the most important thing, but you can also give them gnaw toys and pet friendly branches to nibble on.
Give them a space to rest
While it’s important to give your pets enough space and opportunities to move and exercise, it’s just as important to make sure they have places in their home where they can settle down and relax. Being prey animals, they will benefit from having somewhere secluded to return to where they know they will be safe. This could be snuggling down in the bedding of their rabbit hutch, or peeking out from a guinea pig shelter on the run.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Whether you’re buying a present for an animal loving child or for your own little pet, we’ve got the perfect gifts, big and small. Check out these top tips, now at an amazing price in the Omlet Black Friday Sale!
Shelters and Play Tunnels
Give your rabbits or guinea pigs something fun to play with on their run this winter with Zippi Guinea Pig Shelters and Rabbit Play Tunnels. Available in green or purple, the shelters are a great way of providing a safe and secluded place for your pets to hide, or as a platform they can jump onto and watch the world go by.
The play tunnels can be placed independently anywhere on the run for your pets to chase each other through, or be connected to the shelters to create a maze that mimics their wild burrows. Entertainment and safe spot in one!
The Caddi Rabbit Treat Holder is the perfect stocking filler for chickens, rabbits or guinea pigs, or their owners. The Caddi can be filled with a range of pet appropriate treats, and will swing as the animals peck or bite the treats. It’s the ideal both mental and physical challenge, with the added bonus of a tasty reward!
Hung from the roof of your hutch and run, the height of the Caddi can easily be adjusted, and it’s super easy to remove it for refilling and cleaning.
Qute Hamster and Gerbil Cage
The Qute hamster and gerbil cage allows owners to get closer to their pets. The modern design means you will be happy to display the piece in your kitchen or living room, and the large, crystal clear bedding tray makes it easy for pet owners of all ages to see what their pets are up to. The bedding tray also offers a convenient way of getting your hamster or gerbils out of the cage for playing, socialising and exercise.
Geo Bird Cage
Upgrade your budgie or other small birds’ home this winter with the stunning Geo Bird Cage. The Geo has got everything your bird needs to become a natural part of the home, and you can accessorise with baths, mirrors and toys for your pets to enjoy.
You can also add a festive touch to the avian housing with the NEW Nordic Green cover. Pop the woodland themed cover with a calming cream background and a trim of geometric trees over the cage at bedtime to let your pets rest in their own winter wonderland.
Eglu Go Hutch
Do your current pets need a home improvement? The Eglu Go Small Animal Hutch is the perfect way of keeping rabbits or guinea pigs in the garden. The handy integrated hutch and run solution allows your pets to run in and out as and when they like during the day, and when it’s time for a nap they can curl up in the safe and insulated house. In winter you can move the hutch closer to the house, making cleaning and spending time with your pets even easier.
This entry was posted in Budgies
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
This entry was posted in Chickens
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:
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? Take a read of our New Rabbit Checklist blog so that you have everything you require for when the time comes to pick up your new fluffy friend!
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.
Photo by Cameron Barnes on Unsplash
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
This entry was posted in Rabbits
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.
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.
This entry was posted in Rabbits
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.
This entry was posted in Chickens
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.
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!
This entry was posted in Rabbits
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!
This entry was posted in Budgies
Evidence suggests that rabbits that 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 as long as you take your time and have patience, there are lots of ways of 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 rabbit tunnels and tubes, chew treats, shelters and platforms, 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)! Offering your pet healthy treats can help you bond, as they help your rabbit realise you mean well. 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 could be 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 out 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.
This entry was posted in Pets
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.”
This entry was posted in Pride of Omlet
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.
This entry was posted in Budgies
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 it’s 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 begin to slowly approach with your fluffy friend’s favourite rabbit 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 rabbit 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. The fighting will likely 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 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 mammalian, 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.
This entry was posted in Rabbits
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 Chicken Coop, 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.
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!
This entry was posted in Budgies
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.
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!
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!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Rabbit 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This entry was posted in Rabbits