With more than 300 rabbits that came through the wonderland, we have learned how to keep our rabbits’ healthy and happy everyday. In this section, we will share with you the guideline we provide to our adopters to care for our rescued rabbits together! You can also download a pdf version HERE.
1. Playpen Setup
Where: Common space such as living room to ensure the rabbits get constant interaction with the family. Bedroom may be noisy for the light sleepers while kitchen may not be hygienic due to fur shedding. Space should also be shaded and away from sun and rain.
Size: Minimum 4-piece playpen (measure 1m x 1m) for one rabbit and minimum 6-piece playpen (measure 2m x 1m) for two rabbits. We typically recommend metal playpen but plastic ones will be suitable for non-chewers. Metal playpens come in L (L94cm x H72cm) and XL (L94cm H101cm). For high jumpers, we recommend you cover the top or purchase XL size.
Bonding: If you have a resident rabbit and is introducing a new rabbit, we recommend that you place them side by side in play-pen setup. As rabbits are prey animals, they do not accept a new mate immediately and requires a ‘bonding period’ which can range from days to months. It is important to give them time to get acquainted.
Roaming: If the rabbit is well litter-trained, you can enclose him in a corner of the house or let him roam the entire house as long as the space is well bunny-proofed.
2. Litterbox Setup
Our rabbits pee and poo throughout the day and need a good litterbox to stay clean. It also need to be spacious and comfortable so they want to use it.
Tray: We use a commercial crate from Toyogo (model: ID3901). The internal dimension is 49.5cm x 36.5cm and comes in 3 different heights (4cm, 7.5cm and 9.5cm). 7.5cm is standard for all rabbits while 4cm is good for rabbits who can’t hop as well and 9cm is good for rabbits who ‘aim too high’ and pee outside their litterbox. This crate cost $6-8 and can be purchased from Toyogo warehouse at 2 Kallang Avenue, CT Hub, Singapore 339407.
Litter: We use Breeder Celect recycled paper litter which is ideal because it is absorbent, excellent in odor control and not dusty to handle. Most paper-based litter are OK for rabbits. We do not recommend wood shaving as it can emit harmful vapors (phenols) when reacted with urine and if the air is not well-ventilated, can result in respiratory and liver damage. We also do not recommend powder clay or silica bead cat litter as they will be dangerous if ingested.
Grid: We will place a plastic mat over the litterbox so the rabbit’s feet stays clean. A common type is the ‘egg crate’ which fish fish aquarium shops use. For rabbits with sensitive soles or thin fur coat, the egg crates maybe too rough and can cause sore hocks (blisters) over time. For such cases, it is ideal to place a rubber mat over the egg crate or change to a flat plastic mat. The rubber mat can be found in neighbourhood provision shops while the plastic mats can be purchased through online shops such as Beary Pet Supply or Taobao.
3. Healthy Diet
A healthy rabbit diet should be 80% hay, 10% vegetables, 5% pellets and 5% treats. Hay is most important to provide the fiber they need to keep their guts healthy and their teeth well grind. Vegetables provide fiber and hydration. Pellets provide fortified vitamins and minerals that a rabbit need to balance it all. Rabbits do have a sensitive stomach so anytime you are introducing new food, please start in small amount and gradually mix in to get the rabbit used to it.
Hay: Unlimited hay is necessary and a rabbit should eat a minimum of their body size of hay. We feed a mix of Oxbow Timothy hay (1st+2nd cut) and APD Timothy High Fiber hay (1st cut). Hay Blend (Oxbow Timothy + Orchard), 2nd cut hay (Momi 2nd cut, APD Timothy Gold) and 3rd cut hay (SPS Diamond) are softer hay good for picky eaters but you should always mix in 1st cut for better teeth grinding. Rabbits do not eat every strand of hay so we will top up twice a day to keep the smell fresh. Once a day, we throw out all remaining hay. Alfalfa hay is recommended only for very young rabbits (<6 months) and senior rabbits who require added calcium.
Vegetables: We feed our rabbits 2 meals of vegetables a day: 6am and 6pm. Each time, we feed 1 cup of leafy greens which gives them fiber as well as natural vitamins and minerals that cannot be obtained through hay and pellets. We feed a mix of Chye Sim, Xiao Bai Cai and occasionally will add herbs such as Cilantro and Parsley for variety. Once in a while, you can also include a baby carrot or half a slice of strawberry and apple cubes to make your rabbit happy.
Pellets: We feed our rabbits 2 meals of pellets a day: 6am and 6pm, and usually after vegetables. Each time, we feed 1 tablespoon of pellets which gives them fiber and fortified vitamins and minerals. For healthy rabbits, we feed Oxbow Adult Rabbit pellets. For rabbits with dental issues, we feed Burgess Excel Adult Rabbit with Oregano. For senior rabbits, we feed Burgess Excel Mature Rabbit with Cranberry and Ginseng. You should never be feeding colourful pellets which have too much fat and sugar in them and can cause poor digestion.
Treats: Treats are just for fun and should be no more than 1 tablespoon per day. We recommend giving small cuts of fresh fruits such as carrots, strawberries, blueberries and apples. Oxbow, APD and Burgess also makes delicious hay-based treats that are very enticing for the rabbits. We do not recommend milk cookies or yogurt drops as rabbits are lactose intolerant and can get diarrhoea.
Water: We serve water in a 500 ml metal bowl and will change their water twice a day. A rabbit should drink 50-200ml of water (per kg weight) a day to stay hydrated. Filtered water and boiled water is good and we do not recommend mineral or tap water due to the extra minerals that can cause bladder sludge/stone. For rabbits who are playful and like to flip their bowls, heavier ceramic bowl is recommended. For rabbits who drink a lot of water, a water fountain may be ideal. We typically do not recommend water bottle but if your rabbit has long fur and can have wet chin, a bottle with a well-designed sprout to ensure easy drinking will be better.
Rabbits are very sociable animals and enjoy a good playtime with rabbit friends as well as human companions. Their gentle nature makes them very easily contented and even a rub on their head is considered a good fun time. A spacious bunny-proofed area is good for them to exercise and roam about in. Some simple toys such as cardboard houses are good to keep them simulated and excited.
Bunny-proofing: Rabbits like to chew on wires, fabric, paper and wood. They also like to hide in dark and tight corners. To understand where are some areas to bunny-proof, lie down on the floor and look for these hazards. Raise wires and curtains and cover up tight corners if you do not want your rabbit near them. Furnitures like recliner with dangerous gaps should also be off limits to your rabbit.
Toys: Rabbits are smart animals who requires ample stimulation to stay active. Clean and dye-free cardboard boxes big enough for them to turn around are perfect toys for them to hide in. Other toys include tunnel, paper towel roll, phone books and even stuffed toys.
Massage: A good massage from head to the tail can be very soothing for a rabbit. Not only will you be able to spend some quiet time with your rabbit, you will also be able to inspect your rabbit from side to side and check for abnormalities.
5. Handling Rabbits
Rabbits are prey animals and are nervous in nature. In order to protect themselves, they are territorial and do not trust easily. Most rabbits will perceive humans as a predator and will resist being ‘captured’. Especially so if you adopted a neglected or abused rabbit that may not be well handled from young. Mishandling can lead to physical injuries such as limb fractures or even spinal damage.
Rabbits are fragile animals to be handled by adults only. A calm and gentle child may be allowed to handle a rabbit under close supervision of an adult. Here’s some tips to ensure safe handling:
- Rabbits have ‘blind spots’ in the front and the back of their head. Approach from the sides (monocular) or further front (binocular) so they do not get startled.
- Rabbits can hear very well due to their big ears so maintaining a quiet environment is important to keep them calm.
- Interact with a rabbit close to the ground and let them gain comfort being near you before you attempt to touch them.
- If your rabbit approaches you, use a treat to positively reinforce the behaviour. Repeat and gradually touch his head and his body. Your rabbit will eventually accept your attention.
- Start picking up a rabbit when you are close to the ground level to prevent them from dropping from heights. Once they are off the ground, clasp their hind legs firmly and hold them against your body. If the rabbit is nervous, gently cover their eyes without blocking their nostrils.
6. Bonding Multiple Rabbits
While rabbits are sociable animals who enjoy group living, they are territorial and protective due to their prey nature. For adopters who has rabbit/s and looking to adopt another, we will advise that their rabbits are certified healthy and sterilized prior to meeting new friends. The introduction process, known as ‘bonding’, can take months and can be stressful for both the rabbit and the owner. It is important both the animals and the humans are well prepared for the journey.
To select compatible rabbits, our volunteers will consider their age, sex, breed and personalities. We will invite adopters and their bunnies to our adoption drive and based on what we observe, we will identify a suitable match and advise them on how to continue the bonding in their own home.
Here are some recommendations we provide to adopters on bonding rabbits:
- House the new rabbit in a playpen next to the resident rabbit/s so they can see each other all the time.
- Place their litterbox and bowls facing each other to encourage more ‘face time’.
- Switch litterboxes, toys or playpen so they can get used to each other’s smell.
- Allow both rabbits to interact in a neutral space for 10-15 minutes daily. Gradually increase the time or frequency if you notice good interaction. (Tip: A good way to ‘neutralize’ a space is wiping it down with vinegar + water solution at least twice and rinse with water)
- Typically, 2-3 weeks is enough for rabbits to be calmer around each other. When they are able to co-exist in the same space for over an hour, you can house them together overnight and observe.
- Feed, pellets or even treats together to build ‘happy experience’.If any of the rabbits has food anxiety, it’s ok to feed using separate bowls to minimize stress.
- If the rabbits do mount or chase, calm them down by head rubs and gently move them side by side to increase contact.
- If the rabbits chase too much, place both of them in a top-open carrier and give head massage to calm them down. You can carry the carrier around the house or even the neighbourhood for 10-15 minutes to increase ‘adventures’ together.
Bonding is never overnight and do require owners to commit to the process. It should be done with love and patience to ensure a lasting relationship. We do not use stress bonding techniques such as shouting, loud music, or letting them ‘fight it out’ as that can lead to negative emotions. However, we try to control the environment with smaller space and close supervision to ensure safe interaction.
We do encourage all our adopters to conduct the bonding in the comfort of their own home. In event more experienced help is needed, we will recommend home boarders such as ‘My Happy Tales’ and Little Bobtail Resort’ to assist.
A short fur rabbit should be brushed 2-3 times a week and a long fur rabbit should be brushed every 1-2 days. All rabbits will require a monthly grooming routine that includes the following steps:
- Combing out loose fur with a slicker brush
- Combing out matted fur with a flea comb
- Removing fur stains using wet cotton pads and dry with tissue
- Trimming off excess fur using a round-tip grooming scissor (only if you are confident in holding your rabbit and a scissor at the same time)
- Clip off clear part of their nails while avoiding the kwik (red blood vessel)
- Remove any external ear wax using cotton swabs
- Remove any build-up on their anus scent glands using cotton swabs
As rabbits do not sweat, there is absolutely NO NEED for a healthy rabbit to be given WET BATHS as the sudden change in temperature on their thin skin can cause hypothermal shock. We also do not recommend POWDER BATH as rabbits can ingest the perfumed powder and have stomach issues.
Every rabbit owner should have a grooming kit with the following items:
For first time rabbit owners, we recommend engaging an experienced rabbit groomer to demonstrate and guide you on grooming. The following are some rabbit-savvy grooming services that we recommend for you to consider. Those highlighted with (*) provides in-home option and may require additional transportation fee.
(*) Angie’s Pets
Angie Png (8200 0553, www.facebook.com/angiespets)
(*) HRSS Grooming Service
Betty Tan or Jacelyn Ng (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(*) Lyn’s Grooming Service
Lyn Ko (96973029, limited sessions)
Little Bobtail Resort
Jennifer Ng (98363140, www.facebook.com/LittleBobtailResort)
(*) Mrs Lee’s Grooming Service
Rhonda Ho (8862 5900)
My Happy Tales
Clarris Ang (92270051, www.facebook.com/MyHappyTales)
Rabbits require daily attention and cannot be left alone for more than 24 hours. But it is also not recommended to bring the rabbit to your vacation as it can create unnecessary stress for the timid animal. Hence, it is important for you to arrange pet-sitting or boarding for your rabbit with a trusted rabbit-savvy friend or relative when you are going away for more than a day. The following are some rabbit-savvy boarding services that we recommend for you to consider. Also, if your rabbit is unwell and requires hourly care, you can also contact those highlighted with (*) who provides medical boarding services.
Angie Png (8200 0553, www.facebook.com/angiespets)
Boarding, Pet Sitting, Pet Taxi Service
Anderson Tan (98508827, facility boards dogs and rabbits)
Bunny On Board
Jasmine (9844 3421, www.facebook.com/bunnyonboard8)
(*) Bunny Nanny
Wai Ping (www.bunnynanny.com, she is a vet nurse and is experienced in caring for sickly rabbits)
(*) Little Bobtail Resort
Jennifer Ng (98363140, www.facebook.com/LittleBobtailResort)
(*) My Happy Tales
Clarris Ang (92270051, www.facebook.com/MyHappyTales)
A healthy rabbit will have lesser health issues as it ages. It’s important that we maintain a good diet for our rabbit and do not over pamper them. Obese rabbits will have higher chances of heart, liver, kidney and joint issues as they age.
As prey animal, rabbit hide their pain to prevent attacks from predators. Rabbit owners need to understand their rabbit’s habits and usual behaviors to ensure early signs are caught early. We will monitor our rabbits’ appetite to ensure they are drinking and eating as they always do. We will also ensure they are enthusiastic about their playtime and treats every day to know they are feeling well. A responsible rabbit owner should also monitor their rabbits’ stool and urine production to ensure their quantity and quality remain consistent. Any abnormalities such as smaller poo or cloudy pee should be monitored to ensure rabbit remains healthy.
Common health ailments in rabbits include dental diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, parasitic infection as well as bacterial infection in eyes, ears and skin. All the above issues require a veterinarian intervention and if the condition is serious, surgical treatments are necessary to save their lives.
Based on our experience, a rabbit will require IMMEDIATE veterinary attention if he/she displays any of the following critical signs:
- No food or water intake for at least 8 hours
- Enlarged or bloated abdomen
- Blood in urine or stool
- Open mouth breathing
- Limping due to sprain or dislocation
- Uncontrolled body movement such as spinning or seizure
- Head tilt
Rabbit is an active animal and they can fall sick, get hurt and need our immediate attention. We will always recommend that you seek professional help from a rabbit-savvy vet but in the event you are unable to do so, such as if it happened late at night, it’s important to keep some first aid items handy to ease the situation.
Bunny Wonderland aims to sterilize all our rescued rabbits before rehoming. As a rabbit becomes sexually mature at 4 months old, their raging hormones promote territorial behaviours such as marking and mounting. As they age, their chance of contracting reproductive diseases, such as uterine cancer in females and testicular cancer in males can be as high as 80%.
We recommend neutering males by 6 months and spaying females by 8 months. If you have an unsterilized rabbit, we will encourage you to sterilize him/her prior to adopting another. As sterilization is a major surgery, here are some suggestions to ensure a smooth operation.
- Pick a trusted rabbit-savvy vet
– A rabbit-savvy vet not only sees rabbits regularly but is also experienced in conducting surgeries, administering anaesthesia and dealing with complications (see ‘Vet Recommendation’ section).
- Ensure your rabbit is of good health prior to the surgery
– The vet should conduct a full body check and blood test before the surgery. We strongly recommend the blood test to ensure a healthy liver and kidney and overall health to help your rabbit overcome the anaesthesia and wake up from the surgery.
- Ensure you are well-prepared for the recovery process
– The neutering for a male tends to be less painful while the spaying for the female is more invasive. We will typically hospitalize them overnight for aided feeding and intensive monitoring. Your vet may prescribe painkiller or supplement to help your rabbit until they regain their appetite (See ‘First Aid’ section).
11. Vet Recommendation
We ask that you bring your adopted rabbit to a trusted vet within 3 months of adoption and let the vet advice you on the review frequency. We will strongly recommend that you go to the vet that treated your rabbit when it was under our care. This way, you can get acquainted with their health history and be able to better care for them. Subsequently, you can choose to go to a nearer rabbit-savvy vet. Here’s a list of the rabbit-savvy veterinary clinics that we recommend for you to consider. Vets labelled with a (*) are the trusted vets that Bunny Wonderland uses for our rescued rabbits.
Disclaimer: The opening hours are updated on May 13 2016. In the event of changes, please contact the vet clinic before heading down with your pet rabbit.