The dwarf rabbit is an increasingly popular animal in French homes. However, beyond the cute appearance of this animal, it is not as simple as it seems to breed it in good conditions and keep it healthy.
indeed, the dwarf rabbit is a very fragile animal that requires a lot of attention and time to take care of it. If despite everything, adopting this little animal does not put you off, here is the complete guide to properly raising a dwarf rabbit at home.
What is a dwarf rabbit?
Contrary to what many people think, the dwarf rabbit is not an animal that exists in the wild. Indeed, it is a “miniature version” of the common rabbit or European rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus ).
Although the small size of the dwarf rabbit gives it a practical side allowing it to live in an apartment, this animal has a significant disadvantage: it has very fragile health. It will therefore need rigorous maintenance and presence to allow it to live in good conditions.
The dwarf rabbit is a lagomorph (and not a rodent as the vast majority of people may think), herbivorous (it only feeds on plants), and diurnal. It has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years maximum, and the color of its coat can be very varied, ranging from white to brown, including red and two-tone. So there are dwarf rabbits for all tastes.
How to take good care of a dwarf rabbit at home?
The habitat of the dwarf rabbit
Despite its small size, the dwarf rabbit requires a certain space to live properly. For a single individual, you will need a cage measuring at least one meter wide; the bigger the cage the better. So do not hesitate to take cages with two floors.
To garnish the bottom of the cage, different offers exist which are all suitable for the dwarf rabbit but the most frequent are:
- wood chips: this litter has the advantage of being very comfortable in addition to absorbing odors well, but it is also quite dusty, and the rabbit’s urine will quickly make the chips sticky and pasty, promoting the proliferation of fungi and bacteria if they are not changed very regularly, causing health problems for the rabbit, especially breathing when combined with the dust of this litter. It will therefore have to be changed more often than the other litter boxes (approximately once or twice a week).
- hemp litter: this litter is often the most recommended for dwarf rabbits. First of all, it has the advantage of not being dusty, which is a very good point for the fragile respiratory system of the rabbit. It also absorbs odors well, and does not become mushy on contact with rabbit urine, since it is a dry litter. The only downside is that with the rigid pieces of hemp it contains, it is possible – although this is very rare – that the rabbit injures its paw on one of the pieces. This litter can be changed once a week (for a single rabbit).
The cage itself should not be placed anywhere. In addition to having very fragile health, the rabbit is an animal sensitive to stress. It will therefore be necessary to place the cage in a quiet room, in which it does not risk being disturbed by other too curious animals (cats, dogs, etc.). The room must not receive drafts (bad for the health of the dwarf rabbit), not be in direct sunlight to avoid sunstroke, and have an ambient temperature between 20 and 25 ° C approximately.
Feeding the dwarf rabbit
The main food of the dwarf rabbit will be hay. He will need some at will, which will require a certain budget for his master. The hay must be chosen well so that it has good nutritional quality: the greener the hay, the better it is. Be careful though, some brands use green filters on their packages to deceive the buyer about the quality of the hay. So be vigilant.
Hay is not the only food rabbits need, however. He will also need either a mixture of seeds or extruded croquettes, sold in specialized stores, at the rate of a good handful morning and evening.
If you wish, you can also feed your rabbit fresh produce. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits don’t just eat carrots! You can give your rabbit artichokes, chard, beets (in small quantities), broccoli (in small quantities), carrots (including the tops), celeriac, celery, green cabbage, zucchini, endives, spinach, fennel, green beans (in very small quantities), turnips, parsnips, peas, peppers (in very small quantities), pink radish and salad (all varieties except lettuce).
In addition to all this, mineral blocks are recommended, to allow the rabbit to teethe, but also to provide him with beneficial minerals for his body, and of course, freshwater at will.
The sociability and behavior of the dwarf rabbit
The dwarf rabbit is a sociable animal, so it will appreciate living with a congener. However, prefer to adopt two females or two males, because taking a couple will give you a lot of young that will have to be managed. In addition, the male risks exhausting the female by wanting to reproduce too much.
The dwarf rabbit is also tolerant since it will not be reluctant to live with other species, such as the guinea pig to name but one, with whom it will cohabit without problems.
However, avoid making him cohabit with dogs or cats, at least until he is an adult and comfortable in his environment. Indeed, the latter might not be very delicate with him, because even without wanting him harm, they will stress the dwarf rabbit.
As a human, it will obviously be necessary to accustom the dwarf rabbit to your presence and your contact, but it will be necessary to go slowly. First, after his arrival, you will have to leave him alone so that he gets used to his new environment, your presence is limited to taking care of his litter, his water, and his food.
As soon as you notice that he is used to your presence, you can gradually start to come into contact with him: the first days with small quick touches, without forcing him, then gradually it will evolve until to wear it.
Once the rabbit is comfortable with its owners and its environment, do not hesitate to let it out of its cage so that it can stretch its legs. Be careful, however, like all rodents (even if there is not one), it will enjoy nibbling on electrical cables, so it will have to be taken out under surveillance.
The health of the dwarf rabbit
The dwarf rabbit has very fragile health, it is also very sensitive to stress which can cause it diseases, in particular diarrhea, which are fatal in these animals, since they completely dehydrate them.
When acquiring a dwarf rabbit, it is strongly recommended to take an anti-diarrheal product at the same time, normally available in all pet stores.
At home, limit all sources of stress concerning him (too loud noises or music, children too present around him, dogs or cats too curious around his cage), but also drafts and excessive temperature shocks. also bad for his health.