The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Rabbits

Who Says You Can’t Teach Your Guinea Pig and Rabbit Tricks?

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


Image by
Pezibear from Pixabay

Rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable animals, and they greatly benefit from spending time with their owners learning and playing. It can be a great way to establish trust between you and your pets and it’s 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 extra attention, having the daily 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’ favorite 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 or her older friend. Forget what you’ve heard about old dogs and new tricks – your pets are never too old to pick up new things!                                     Image Rolf Neumann from Unsplash

Rabbit and Guinea pig tricks for beginners

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

Training your guinea pig or rabbit to Circle

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

Don’t worry if this takes some time to learn – the first trick is always 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. Also, when they have learned to stand, you can start by 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 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 eight weaving between your legs – in the same way as you did with the “circle” trick. 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 key!

How to make rabbits and guinea pigs answer to their name

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 it. 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 connection, 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 first step is to sit with your rabbit and wait for it to lift a paw – they do this frequently – clicking whenever it does this action. For the first few days, this is far as you’ll get – raised paw, click! You can speed things 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 realize 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!

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’ favorite part of the day!

 

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This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs


10 tips for Keeping Older Rabbits Healthy and Happy

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

At what age is a rabbit considered old?

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

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

How do you take care of an old rabbit?

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

    1. Make sure you give them the right food. Rabbit care is largely about food, and a healthy diet is essential throughout a rabbit’s life. As your bunny gets older, you should consider buying specially formulated pellets or nuggets. There are several different brands, and they contain the optimal balance of vitamins and minerals for aging rabbits. Older rabbits can’t gain too much weight – or, indeed, lose weight – during this dietary transition, so you should weigh them regularly to maintain the correct weight. In addition to the special pellets, senior rabbits should be fed lots of hay and fresh foods as usual.
    2. Don’t add supplements to your rabbit’s diet. Rabbits get everything they need from a diet of hay, fresh food and appropriate pellets. Extra calcium, for example, can cause digestive problems or stones in the urinary tract.
    3. Make sure your bunny gets plenty of exercise. Getting old doesn’t mean sitting around all day – rabbits of all ages need to move around to stay happy and healthy. A run will naturally allow your bunnies to hop, skip and jump around. A tunnel layout such as Omlet’s Zippi system is nothing short of essential. These run layouts keep your rabbit both mentally and physically sharp, which is all part of healthy old age. You can use rubber-backed mats on steep or slippery surfaces, to enable the rabbit to get a better grip.
    4. Provide quiet spaces. Senior rabbits are less active than young bunnies and appreciate a quiet space away from the action. A cozy corner in the hutch will keep a tired rabbit happy with lots of soft bedding. Incorporating ‘safe spaces’ in your run helps too. 
    5. Keep the hutch lined with soft bedding. Senior rabbits can develop pressure points and sores or a foot condition called pododermatitis. This is caused by hard surfaces or wire meshing on the floor of a run. Good senior rabbit care means looking after sore feet!
    6. Keep bunny claws clipped. Senior rabbits tend to move around less, and as a result their claws can soon become very long. Regular clipping is required. If you’re not comfortable performing this, ask your vet for help.
    7. Provide shelter from the elements. In addition to that cozy corner in the rabbit’s hutch, some weatherproofing to shield your aging 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Reduce obstacles. A rim around a litter tray, or a tunnel that rabbits have to hop over to get to the other side of the run, can cause problems in older rabbits who can no longer hop over things. Rearranging the run furniture and providing easy access to litter trays indoors is the answer.
  3. Take your bunny for regular check-ups. The best way of staying 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. Staying on top of little red flags will ensure your rabbit will continue to live a happy life .

 

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Do’s and Don’ts: What Fresh Produce Should I feed my Rabbit?

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

Rabbits are eating

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

What can I feed my bunny?

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

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

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

What vegetables can I feed my rabbit?

Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash

The list of good veg that rabbits eat includes:

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

Vegetables that are poisonous for rabbits

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

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

Rabbits should avoid the following altogether:

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

No Carrots?!

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

Carrots

Photo by Oriol Portell on Unsplash

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

Safe herbs and plants suitable for rabbits

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

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

Spot the rabbit

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

What vitamins and minerals do rabbits need?

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

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

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

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

 

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Gift Guide: Rabbits

Zippi Tunnels, Play Pens & Runs

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

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

This is the perfect opportunity to extend an existing system, or to start a completely new one with the Zippi Run and Playpens.

Caddi Treat Holder

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

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

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This entry was posted in Gift Guides


Which Is the Best Rabbit for You?

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

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

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

Dutch Rabbit

Dwarf Lops

English Spot

Dutch Rabbits

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

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

Dwarf Lops

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

English Spots

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

Flemish Giant

Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits

Rex Rabbit

Flemish Giants

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

Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits

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

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

Rex Rabbits

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

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

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Will My Rabbits Be Ok Outside in the Winter?

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

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

Can rabbits live outside during the Winter months?

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

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

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

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

But will they be happier inside?

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

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

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

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

How cold is too cold for rabbits?

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

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

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

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

What can I do to help my rabbits in Winter?

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

• Exercise

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

• Position and cover

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

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

• Bedding

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

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

• Food, water and treats

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

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

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


Photos by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

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Can Rabbits Swim?

Rabbit owners often ask us if pet bunnies can swim. The answer is yes – but in many ways, it’s the wrong question. If you ask “Do rabbits enjoy swimming?”, the answer is definitely no.

Most mammals are capable of swimming, but not many actually take a dip unless they are forced to. We all know that cats hate water – but they can and will swim for safety if they have to. Rabbits are the same. In times of flood, or if chased by predators, they will sometimes jump in at the deep end and swim for it.

Which brings us to one of many rabbit myths. Bunnies have webbed feet – surely a sign of an animal intended for swimming? Well, no. The webbed feet are there to help rabbits hop and run – not swim.

What about all those swimming bunnies on YouTube?

A quick YouTube search will produce a list of video clips showing bunnies apparently enjoying themselves in swimming pools; but you will struggle to find a clip in which the rabbit voluntarily enters the water. Some can be trained to do so, in the same way as a circus can train animals to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. And that’s the main point – turning your pet rabbit into a circus act is inhumane.

In the various videos of swimming rabbits, the animals don’t appear panicked or distressed. But that’s just the rabbit’s way of surviving. It knows it can float, and it knows it can paddle to safety. It’s not going to thrash around and drown, and nor is it going to give any clues to how it’s feeling in its facial expressions. A rabbit serenely gliding across a garden pool is doing one thing only – surviving.

This has become a contentious issue, and there are even online petitions to prevent swimming bunny videos being posted online. As far as the signatories of the petitions are concerned, this is animal cruelty, nothing more and nothing less.

Healthy Swimming for Rabbits?

There is circumstantial evidence that some rabbits like to float in the water to ease arthritic problems, or simply to clean themselves and/or cool off. The only advice that can be given here – after taking such evidence with a pinch of salt – is to let the rabbit lead the way. A bunny who voluntarily takes a dip does not necessarily need dragging from the water and locking away somewhere dry and safe. The swimming is, no doubt, great exercise, just as it is for humans.

However, the fact that a rabbit enters the water may indicate an underlying problem – perhaps they do, indeed, have joint problems, or maybe their enclosure has an outbreak of fleas, lice or mites, something that might lead a bunny to desperate measures in the backyard pool!

And the fact that it’s a pool presents another potential problem. Pools tend to have chlorine and other chemicals in the water, and these can irritate a rabbit’s eyes, nostrils and skin. Even untreated water can cause skin irritation if a rabbit remains wet for too long. Rabbits have very small lungs, too, and even a small amount of water breathed in by mistake can prove fatal.

If your pet rabbits voluntarily take to the water, dry them thoroughly after they’ve finished exercising. If you’re considering aquatherapy for rabbit joint-related problems, speak to a vet first.

The rule of thumb on this issue is simple – don’t put rabbits into pools or other bodies of water. Yes, they can swim; but no, they don’t like it. Usually!

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Why Your Pets Need A Caddi

Here’s why the Caddi is the perfect choice for your treat-loving pets…

  1. The Caddi Treat Holder decreases the rate at which your pets will eat their treats. Slower treat release through the gaps in the holder means more satisfaction for longer, and prevents over indulgence. 
  2. The Caddi Treat Holder swings around and creates a rewarding, interactive game to keep your pets entertained, which is especially great for rainy days! Your pets will love the stimulating experience of foraging for their treats, and enjoy hours of rewarding fun.
  3. The Caddi allows you to feed your pets treats without having to throw them on the ground. This improves run cleanliness, reduces food waste and prevents pests, as well as being a healthier solution for your pets. Simply hang the Caddi from the roof of your pet’s run with the plastic hook and use the string to adjust the height to suit your pets.
  4. Endless treat opportunities! With the Caddi Treat Holder you can feed a range of fresh greens, fruits and vegetables to your pets, you can use it as a hay rack for rabbits, or fill it with pecker balls for hens. Get creative and reward your pets with exciting new flavours in the Caddi. 
  5. You can save 50% on the Caddi Treat Holder until midnight on Monday, just by signing up to the Omlet newsletter. It’s a great deal for you, and an exciting new treat dispenser for your pets! Enter your email address on the Caddi page to claim your discount code.

Now available for just $6.49 if you sign up to the Omlet newsletter!



Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 08/12/20 – midnight on 08/17/20. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a unique 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 or bundles with Omlet Peck Toys or Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Offer is limited to 2 Caddi Treat Holders per household. Subject to availability. Omlet Inc. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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This entry was posted in Chickens


How Rabbits Show Love and Affection

Some pets are pretty obvious with the way they show love and affection. A dog might be the best example of this; with a wagging tail, smiling face and licking tongue, dog owners rarely have to guess if their dog is excited to see them when they get back from work in the evening. 

With rabbits it’s a bit more complicated. First of all, it often requires a bit more work to get your pet rabbit to trust you. As prey animals, they are naturally shy and cautious, and it may take a while before they warm up to new people. However, once they know you and trust you, they are extremely affectionate animals that love spending time with their owners. They might just have slightly different ways of showing it! 

If your rabbits do all or some of the following things, you can be sure that they feel genuine affection for you.

They stop being nervous

When the rabbit is new to you, it’s normal that they seem skittish or jumpy. This is to be expected, and it may take a while before the rabbit realises that they are safe in their new home.

The first signs that your rabbit is warming up to you is that they stop some obvious nervous behaviors. Maybe they no longer jump back when you reach your hand towards them with some treats, stop running into the hutch whenever you approach or start to relax their body language. These may seem like small things, but they are steps towards your bunny feeling true love for you.

They groom you

When two rabbits live together, they lick, nibble and groom each other as a way of showing love and affection. If your rabbit likes you, he or she might start to lick you or your clothing, nudge your arm or nibble on your finger. This is a sign that you are seen as part of the rabbit’s family, and that they care about your health and cleanliness.

They want to be stroked

If you rabbit comes up to you and starts pushing their head against your hand or put their head on your arm it’s a sign that they love you and want to spend time with you. It means your rabbit trusts you know what you’re doing and won’t hurt them, and is a true signal that they love being around you. 

They come and lay next to you

A rabbit that approaches you while you’re spending time with them in their run and lays down next to you is showing extreme trust, especially if they’ve got their legs sprawled out under them. This is a very vulnerable position to be in, so it’s clear that your rabbit trusts that you will look after them. 

They run around your feet

The closest you will probably get to a dog jumping up to greet you when you get through the door is your rabbit running in circles around your feet, sometimes doing figures of eight between your legs. You might have seen this behavior when you approach your rabbits with food or yummy treats, but many will also do it just out of excitement of seeing their favorite human. 

They purr

Although it’s actually not purring in the same way as cats purr, but a grinding of the teeth that makes a soft humming sound and causes the rabbit’s head to vibrate slightly, it’s a clear sign that your rabbit is content. Normally this occurs when you’re stroking or grooming your rabbit, a time when your pet doesn’t have to worry about anything. 

They do a binky

A binky can be described as a jump up in the air with the legs stretched out. It’s an expression of excitement and exhilaration, and sometimes you will see your rabbit doing this in your company. We dare you not to smile when you see a binky!

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Choose The Right Cover For Your Run

We often get asked which is the best cover for an Eglu run to keep pets comfortable all year round. Read our simple guide below so you know how to help your pets in all weathers!

Summer Shades

These shades are a thinner cover material which offers protection from the sun, without creating a tunnel where heat can build up inside the run. These are smaller than the winter covers to allow better airflow through the run for ventilation. Move the summer shade around the run to suit the time of day and your hens’ routine. You may wish to change this for a Clear or Combi Cover in summer when there’s rain on the way!

Clear Covers

The Clear Covers allow for sunlight to flood your pet’s run, while also offering protection from rain. This makes them ideal for spring and autumn, so the run is light and warm with sun, but also protected from unpredictable wind and rain. 

Combi Covers

Get the best of both worlds, with shade from the sun on one side and light coming in the other, as well as full wind and rain protection on both sides. The Combi Covers are half dark green, heavy duty cover for extreme wind and rain protection, and half clear cover to let in sunlight and warmth and to let your pets see when you are bringing them treats!

Heavy Duty Covers

For strong, hard-wearing protection against the worst of winter choose heavy duty covers. Even when the temperature drops, the rain and wind batters your pets home, or a deluge of snow covers your garden, the dark green, impenetrable heavy duty covers offer sturdy weather protection. Your chickens or rabbits will be able to hop around the Eglu run in complete peace, without getting cold, damp or wind-swept!

Extreme Temperature Covers

Chickens and rabbits are very efficient at keeping themselves warm in cold weather, and the Eglu’s twin wall insulation will assist them by keeping cool air out and warm air in, but when temperatures plummet for multiple days in a row, they may appreciate a little extra support. The Extreme Temperature Blankets and Jackets add another insulating layer, like your favourite wooly sweater, without compromising the ventilation points around the coop. 

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This entry was posted in Chickens


Want to keep chickens and rabbits together? These are the things you need to consider!

Rabbits and chickens are two of the nation’s favourite pets, and while there are many things that set them apart, they also have a lot of similarities, and if you are careful and manage to cater for their different needs, they can actually live together in harmony.

Both chickens and rabbits are very sociable animals that like spending time together with others, and it doesn’t matter too much if the company is of another species. They also have similar requirements when it comes to space, temperature and attention. Apart from that, having the two live together will also be more space efficient for you, as you won’t have to create two living quarters, but can focus on one larger area instead. 

There are however things to think about if you’re considering keeping rabbits and chickens together – just putting them together in a run and hoping for the best will probably not end well. Chickens may carry diseases that are latent and symptomless, but that will make the rabbits ill, and they are also by nature scared of fast-moving things (animals included), and having speedy rabbits racing around their feet might create a lot of stress if they are not used to it. 

So while it’s not problem free having the two live together, it’s definitely possible. Here are some things to think about:

  • You are more likely to succeed if you start introducing the animals to each other when they are young, so that they are raised together and don’t really know a life without the other. Start by keeping them on different sides of a fence or a run, so that they can get used to each other (Omlet’s partitions for the Outdoor Pet Run will be perfect here). Move on to keeping them together, but in a very large enclosure, so that no one feels threatened by the other species. Make the enclosure gradually smaller, until they are all in the run where you are planning to keep them permanently. 
  • The chickens might try to peck the rabbits while they are getting used to the fast movements. This doesn’t hurt a fully grown rabbit, and it will pass after a few days, but never put a baby bunny in with a flock of adult hens, as they are much more vulnerable. 
  • Give both a place to retreat to. Chickens and rabbits are both nervous and vulnerable animals that will benefit from having their own space to return to when it all gets a bit too much.
  • They also have different requirements. Chickens need perches to roost on at night, and rabbits will need plenty of hay in the hutch to both curl up on, and to eat. Keep this away from the chickens to avoid contamination. You will also need to feed them separately; chickens will try to eat everything, and rabbit food will make them ill. 
  • Rabbits are known to be extremely cleanly animals, a reputation you rarely hear about chickens. To keep your rabbits happy you will therefore need to clean the run and the hutch and/or coop more often than you would if you only had chickens. The rabbits will not be impressed with chicken poo in their home!
  • Make sure there is plenty of room for all. Having two species in one place might be space efficient on the whole, but make sure the run is big enough and equipped with toys and hiding places to entertain and calm your pets. The Caddi Treat Holder is a perfect food toy for both rabbits and chickens, and the Zippi playtunnels will be perfect as a small den for a tired bunny.
  • If you’re planning to have rabbits and chickens living together, we would definitely suggest neutering male rabbits. Even if he doesn’t live with female rabbits, unneutered bucks are notoriously known for mounting everything that comes in their way, including feathered friends. 
  • It’s never a good idea to keep one single rabbit in a flock of chickens, or vice versa. Despite being part of a group, they will feel lonely and stressed without a friend of their own species. 

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Rabbit Run Checklist for Spring

Spring might be the best time of year for rabbits! The sun is returning, the grass is fresh and luscious, and they can finally spend most of their time outdoors without you having to worry about rain storms and cold spells. 

That wonderful time of year is nearly here, so now is the perfect time to look over your pets current set up and make sure they have enough space to play on and that it’s safe and stimulating enough to keep them entertained and relaxed. 

RUN

If you already have a run, go over it and make sure it’s holding up and will keep your bunnies safe. You might need to replace some run clips, grease some locks or possibly change a panel.

If you’re new to keeping rabbits or looking to extend, it’s important to find a safe and spacious solution that suits your garden. The Omlet Outdoor Rabbit Run is a great alternative if you want to create a large, secure area where rabbits can spend their days. It can easily be connected to your Eglu Go Hutch, so that your rabbits can nip into their cosy home for a nap or a snack. The generous height of the run also allows you to go in and spend time with your pets.

The Zippi Runs are also a great solution for rabbit owners. These secure runs give your pets more exercise space, and they can be customised for your needs with two heights and optional roof panels and underfloor mesh. 

PLAYPEN

You will most likely be spending more time in the garden as the weather gets warmer, and if you have kids they will want to join in and play with the rabbits. The Zippi Playpens are super easy to move around the garden and allow you to spend quality time with your rabbits. 

ZIPPI TUNNELS

If you have a hutch and a run but are tired of having to carry your pets between the two, the Zippi Tunnel System might be the perfect solution for you. By connecting the tunnels to the different areas you allow the rabbits to move between their different habitats at their own pace. They can be locked at the end of the day to secure your pets in their hutch.

You can adjust your Zippi Tunnel System to fit your garden by adding connectors, corners, hay racks and lookout towers. It is also super easy to add extra tunnels at a later date if you want to make your pets’ playground bigger!

COVERS

You can make sure your rabbits stay dry from those inevitable April showers by adding covers to the roof of your run. We have got plenty of different kinds of covers to suit your setup and protect your pets from the elements. The clear covers are perfect for early spring days as they let in light on the run even in rain, whereas the heavy duty versions will provide your pets with a shady spot in warmer weather.

PLAY TUNNELS

Next step in creating the perfect run is to add some entertainment for your pets. Designed to mimic an underground rabbit warren in the wild, the Omlet Play Tunnels are the perfect accessory for your run. The rabbits will love chasing each other through the tunnels or stretching their long legs and jumping over their toys. 

CADDI

Another way of providing your rabbits with entertainment and stimulation is to make snack time slightly more challenging. The Caddi Treat Holder can easily be filled with nutritious veg or hay and then hung from the top of the run. It will slowly swing as the rabbits nibble away at their tasty greens, adding an interactive element that is also more hygienic than putting the food straight on the ground. 


If you want to make sure you have everything sorted for the outdoor months ahead you can print screen the list below and tick off all rabbit run essentials!

🗆 Permanent, safe run

🗆 Moveable runs and playpens

🗆 Weather protection

🗆 Tunnels

🗆 Other toys

🗆 Fun feeding solutions

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What Should Rabbits Eat?

All rabbits, whether they live in burrows in the wild or in a comfy hutch and are kept as pets, are herbivores. This means that they exclusively eat things that come from plants, mainly grasses, seeds and vegetables. 

The largest cause of illness in pet rabbits can be traced back to dangerous or wrongly proportioned feeding. Apart from life threatening gastrointestinal diseases, a poor diet can also cause teeth problems and weakened immune system, so it’s very important that you learn how to feed your pet properly. 

HAY

A wild rabbit’s diet will consist almost exclusively of grass that they find on and around their warrens. As grass contains very little nutrition, they need to eat large amounts to survive, and spend most of their days looking for and munching fresh grass. Pet rabbits won’t be able to eat this much in a day, so their diets must be supplemented with dry food, vegetables and hay to get the calories, vitamins and minerals they need to stay happy and healthy.

A good rabbit diet should consist of about 80% good quality hay, and they should always have an unlimited amount available to them. They hay does not only give the rabbits the nutrients they need, it also helps them wear down their constantly growing teeth. It’s not enough to just make sure the rabbits always have access to hay; you must also limit other types of food, as they will often be prioritised at the expense of hay intake.

FEED

The most common types of feed for pet rabbits are pellets and food mixes. Pellets are always the better option here, as it has a higher fiber content (at least 18%, ideally 20-25%) and is not as high in fat and unhealthy carbohydrates, like sugar. Pellets also prevent selective feeding, as the nutrients are evenly spread in each pellet, so that you can be sure all your rabbits get the same food. 

Only feed a small amount of pellets every day. As mentioned earlier, a rabbit that is fed too much other yummy things will prioritise these over the very important hay. 

GREENS

Fresh greens are a great source of nutrients for rabbits, and the different chewing motions will help with wearing teeth down. Try to give your pet a wide variety of greens throughout the week, and aim for three different types per day. Some good examples include grass, clover, dandelion leaves, leaves from fruit trees, carrot tops and parsley. Spinach, chard, cabbage and sprouts are also nutritious, but must be given in moderation. In general, introduce new vegetables slowly, and look out for any signs of an upset stomach. 

Make sure that the greens you feed your rabbits stay fresh by putting them in a treat holder, like the Caddi. This makes feeding your rabbits easy and hygenic, while also providing your pets with a fun and interactive experience of foraging their treats.

TREATS

Other vegetables, fruits and berries can be fed in small amounts every now and then. Avoid any “human food” containing sugar or salt, as well as nuts and seeds. It’s tempting to spoil your pet, but if it’s not done in moderation, your rabbit might end up obese and ill.

It’s also important to note that some fruit and vegetables are dangerous or even toxic to rabbits, and must be avoided at all times. Before you try something new, make sure you check that it is okay for rabbits. 

CAECOTROPHES

In order to get the most nutrients out of the food they eat, a rabbit will produce small, dark, grape-like balls, different from the normal pellets, that they eat straight from their bum. It may seem strange to us, but it’s very important that they eat these extremely nutritious snacks. 

If you notice lots of these caecotrophes scattered around the hutch, or if they are getting stuck in the fur around the rabbit’s bottom, it’s a sign that the rabbit’s diet is too rich. Try cutting down on pellets and add more hay, and contact your vet if the problem persists.

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How Can I Keep My Pet Rabbits Warm In The Winter?

Many people bring their pet rabbits indoors during the winter months. That’s certainly one way of helping them cope with the cold. But is it necessary? After all, wild rabbits survive the winter without having to ask us to turn up the central heating.

However, wild rabbits have a very important trick up their furry sleeves. They live in burrows, protected from the weather in the confines of a cosy rabbit warren. Pet rabbits don’t have access to this comfortable underground lifestyle, so you’ll need to simulate it in other ways.

The key to underground living is insulation. In the same way as an igloo creates a relatively warm space in a cold environment, a burrow provides an insulated living space with a constant temperature. Not exactly a hot spot, but somewhere that can be warmed up by lots of furry bodies, dry grass and compacted earth.

Hutch insulation can be reinforced by adding extra bedding materials. The paper lining commonly used at the base of rabbit bedding soaks up urine, and so it gets wet very quickly. Anything wet can soon become cold, and can even freeze if the temperature really plummets. In really cold weather – anything below zero degrees C – change the paper lining daily.

The real key to cold weather comfort is hay. Double, or even triple the amount you normally use in the rabbits’ sleeping area, and they’ll be snug through the night.

Not All Hutches Are Equal

An old wooden hutch with gaps and cracks for the cold wind to blow through is always going to be a lot less cosy than something more windproof. The ideal hutch has all-round insulation, like the Eglu. This will still need its thick mattress of hay, though.

There comes a point when cold weather is actually dangerous. If temperatures plunge below minus 5 C, wild rabbits hunker down and lie close together to share and conserve body warmth. In a garden hutch they will struggle when things get this cold. Not many pet rabbits can cope with sustained temperatures below minus 5, even in something as well-insulated as an Eglu.

In these extreme temperatures, there are two choices: bring the bunnies indoors, or use a heat pad in the hutch.

It will also help, of course, to keep the hutch in a sheltered spot, away from the worst of the winter winds.

How To Fight The Freeze

Rabbit water bottles freeze when the temperature falls. You can help prevent this by wrapping insulating material – bubble wrap is good – around the bottle. The water bottle in the Eglu, for example, comes ready-insulated from the cold. But even this will freeze when it gets really cold. You’ll also need to make sure the water bottle nozzle stays unfrozen, which involves changing the water bottles a few times each day. Always have a couple of spares, for this purpose.

The hutch itself can be made cosier by adding insulation to the outside. Extreme temperature jackets are a much better option than a thick blanket, as the latter will get wet and then freeze.

If the weather forces you to bring the bunnies indoors, keep them there until things warm up again. It’s not good for their health if they are forever going back and forth from cold winter to centrally heated house or shed.

Eating To Keep Out The Cold

Outdoor rabbits, like all small mammals subject to the whims of the seasons, have to eat more during the winter. This enables them to stoke their internal central heating. We humans tend to forget that the food we eat is largely fuel to heat us up from the inside out – part of being a warm-blooded mammal rather than a cold-blooded fish or reptile.

A cold rabbit will shiver. If, in spite of your insulating efforts, you notice a whole lot of shaking going on in the hutch, you need to take action. Heating pads, or the great indoors – those are the options.

It’s important to remember, though, that rabbits love having access to fresh air. They are hardy creatures, and you don’t need to keep them cooped up until the spring. As soon as the cold snap passes they can move to their outdoor quarters again.

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How to Give Your Rabbit a Health Check

Rabbits will most likely not show any signs of illness or pain before it is really serious, as any weakness would mark them as an easy target for predators in the wild. It is therefore important that you, as an owner, carry out regular health checks on your pet, so that you are able to spot potential problems while they are still treatable. 

Always take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you suspect something is not right. A rabbit’s health can deteriorate very quickly, so don’t lose any time wondering if it’s worth it or not.

Body

Put a towel on your lap and place your rabbit on top of it. Stroke him or her to calm them down. When your rabbit has settled, you can start examining their body. 

Feel the stomach to make sure it’s not swollen or distended, and go through the rest of the body for signs of cuts, bruises or lumps. Feel the muscles in the legs, they should be strong and firm. Any wincing or unexpected movement from the rabbit could be a sign that the body part you’re touching is causing your rabbit pain.

Check your rabbit’s breathing; it should not be labored. Wheezing or clicking noises from the lungs can be signs of illness.

It is worth getting a set of scales and regularly weighing your rabbit. Sudden weight loss is a serious sign of illness, and a lack of appetite is a strong indicator of poor health.

Mouth and nose

The nose should be dry and not have any discharge. Check that the rabbit is not dribbling, and that it doesn’t have any sores or cuts around the mouth. The gums should be pink (a red or purple color is a sign of illness).

Make sure the teeth are not overgrown or damaged. They should also be growing straight, and be uniform. You won’t be able to see the back teeth, but if you move your fingers over the cheek you can feel for lumps, and make sure that everything is symmetrical. Overgrown teeth are a serious problem as this can prevent your rabbit from eating, which is why it is very important to give them plenty of good quality hay to wear the teeth down with.

Eyes

Check your rabbits eyes to make sure they are clean and clear. You shouldn’t see any discharge or dirt. If you do, carefully pull back the eyelid to see if you notice any redness or pus in the eye; it is possible that the rabbit has scratched its eye. The eyes should also be dry; runny eyes can be a sign of teeth problems, or possibly ingrowing eyelashes or blocked tear ducts.

Ears

Rabbit ears should be free from any dirt, wounds, lumps, wax, discharge or parasites. Look inside the ears; you can use a torch if it’s difficult to see. Take extra care if you have a lop rabbit as they are particularly prone to abscesses around the ears. Carefully massage the base of the ears, where lumps can sometimes occur. 

Feet

Watch your rabbit move around to make sure it’s not limping and doesn’t have any lameness in the legs. Pick up your rabbit and put him or her on your lap. It’s not a good idea to put a rabbit on its back, so hold it against you with one hand under its bottom. Try spreading the toes to check for scabs, abscesses or a build up of dirt. Also check the heels on the back feet. These should not be red or swollen. Check the fur on the feet and brush it if it’s matted.

Rear End

Check the fur around the bottom. It should be completely clear from feces or other dirt. A dirty bottom can be a sign that the rabbit’s diet is too rich and that they are not eating all the caecotrophs they produce.

During summer you should check for any build up of dirt at least once a day, as a dirty bum can attract flies that lay eggs in the damp fur. This causes a condition known as flystrike, which can kill a healthy rabbit in a matter of days.

Also check the rear end for any swelling or redness.

Coat

With your rabbit sat on your lap, part the hair with your fingers and check for cuts and wounds, bald patches, anything moving, small brown dots or white flakes. 

Even if you don’t have a rabbit that requires grooming on a daily or weekly basis it is good to get your pet used to brushing from an early age. Rabbits moult regularly, and you might need to help them get rid of dead hair from their coat during this time.

Changes in temperament

Sudden changes in temperament and behavior is never a good sign. Maybe your rabbit doesn’t come running when you approach it with food in the morning, or is suddenly aggressive. These might be signs your rabbit is in pain. 

Rabbits who reach sexual maturity can sometimes act very differently. Spraying is a common problem, as is aggression. Your rabbit might not be in pain, but it can be very distressing for them to go through this ‘puberty phase’. This might be a good reason to get your pets neutered as soon as they are old enough.

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How to Litter Train Your Pet Rabbit

Many people with indoor rabbits would like to let them roam free in the house, giving them more space and including them in daily family life, but worry that they will have to spend their time picking up droppings and wiping up wee. They might however not realize that rabbits, like cats, can be trained to use a litter box.

Preparations

If you haven’t already done so, you will need to spay or neuter your pet, as an unspayed or unneutered rabbit will be almost impossible to litter train. You will also need to keep the rabbit in a confined space until they’re fully grown. Unlike with dogs and cats, it’s much easier to train older rabbits, as their attention span and learning abilities are very limited when as babies or very young. 

Litter training a rabbit can take some time, and accidents will most certainly happen, so make sure you have enough patience to get through the process with your pet. Rabbits, like most animals, will not respond well to any type of punishment, so never tell your rabbit off when he or she has done something wrong. This will only make them forget what they have learned, and they will be more reluctant to try again. 

Choose The Right Place

While the rabbit is learning, you will need to keep him or her in a confined space in the house. Bathrooms or utility rooms are good places, but you can also set up a playpen, ideally in a room that is not carpeted. 

You will most likely be needing several litter boxes further along in the training process, but start with one. If you notice that the rabbit keeps going into a different corner to wee or poo, move the box to their preferred place. 

The Litter Box

Rabbits want space to stretch out in the box, so make sure you get one that is big enough. You will be able to find boxes specifically designed for rabbits, but the best option is normally a simple medium sized tray-type cat litter box. Just make sure the rabbit can easily hop into it. 

Prep the box with a layer of absorbent litter. Carefresh is a perfect alternative as it soaks up any unwanted odors, but you can also use shredded paper or wood based solutions. Don’t use anything that will be dangerous for the rabbit to ingest, as they will nibble on the bedding. Make sure to also stay away from softwoods like pine or cedar, as well as clay-based or clumping litter, as they can be harmful to your bunny. 

Put a good layer of good quality hay on top of the bedding, and add some of the droppings and urine-soaked bedding. This will guide the rabbit to the right spot.

Try It Out With Your Bunny

Let the rabbit into the training room or area, and stay with him or her. When you see them leave droppings or urinate, immediately lift them up and put both the bunny and the droppings in the tray. Talk softly and pet him or her. This should after a while hopefully get the message across that the litter box is the right place to go. Spend as much time as possible doing this over a few days. When you need to leave, put the rabbit back in the hutch or smaller enclosure. Repeat daily until you can trust them to know where to go.

When you think you rabbit is ready to move on you can gradually expand the area where the rabbit is kept. Don’t overwhelm them with the whole house at once, as that will only mean that the rabbit will forget where the litter box is, and all that hard training will go to waste.

Notice where accidents tend to happen, and put out extra litter boxes there. This might mean you have to move the rabbits cage or rearrange some furniture, but once you have got it right it will be worth it. 

It’s important to note that very few rabbits are 100% reliable with their litter box. Accidents will probably keep occurring throughout the rabbit’s life, and that doesn’t mean that the training has failed. It is also normal for the rabbit to leave a few droppings right next to the box or sometimes urinate on, or over, the edge of the tray. Put a mat or some paper under the box to make it easy to clean. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Rabbit Poop

Rabbits, as prey animals, tend to hide their illnesses as much as possible, and they are very good at it. This is why it is important for all rabbit owners to keep a close eye at your rabbit and do regular health checks, so that you can spot problems as early as possible.

Checking your pet rabbits’ poop is a brilliant way to see how they are doing, and from just having a little look and possibly a little feel, you will be able to tell a lot about your pet’s health. But before we start exploring the wonderful world of rabbit poop, it’s important to mention that if you’re ever worried or unsure, it’s always best to consult your vet. 

Different types of poop

Rabbits produce two types of droppings: 

  1. Fecal pellets. This is what most people think of when you say rabbit poop. They are small, round balls made up of mainly undigested hay. These droppings are relatively firm and more or less completely dry, and they don’t smell. There will be lots of these to clean up in the hutch, so take the opportunity to see if they look normal.
  2. Cecotropes. These are not actually poop, but little balls of nutrition that the rabbits will pick from their bottoms and eat again. We know, not very nice, but they are a vital part of the rabbits diet, and if you see your bunny munching on these poop bits you should be comforted and proud, as it’s very important that your rabbit eats these.

    Cecotropes are formed in a part of the digestive system called the caecum. After the food has gone through the small intestine, it is separated. Food matter that has been digested or doesn’t contain any nutrients will go through the large intestine and come out as pellets, whereas undigested food will be sent through the caecum. There, plenty of healthy microorganisms and bacteria will break it down to a form that the body will actually be able to digest, and the rabbit will dispose of the cecotropes and munch away at them again.

    Most of the time the rabbit will eat the cecotropes straight away. If you have a healthy rabbit with a good diet, you might not ever notice them, but they are soft and shiny black balls that sit together in a cluster, almost resembling a blackberry (sorry to ruin blackberries for you!). 

Problems

Check your rabbit’s poop regularly to see if you notice anything new or irregular. Are the faecal pellets too small, too hard or not uniform? Are the pellets strung together by hair? Are they a weird colour?

The main reason for poop related problems is an unbalanced diet. Try changing a few things in the way you feed your rabbits, but make sure you never make any big changes too quickly. A balanced diet for a rabbit consists of roughly 90% good quality hay, a small handful of pellets and some fresh fruit and vegetables (how much depends a bit on the size of your rabbit). He or she must also have unlimited access to fresh water at all times. 

If you think something might not be right you can try changing the vegetables you give your pet. Instead of peppers and carrots, try vegetables with less sugar and more fibre, like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens. You might be giving your rabbit too much food, or food that is too rich. Try limiting the amount of pellets the rabbit is given, and make sure the feed you give them has got everything they need, and a good amount of fibre. 

If you have long-haired rabbits it’s inevitable that they sometimes ingest some fur, which will inevitably need come out the other way. If you see a string of pellets connected by hair every now and again it’s nothing to worry about, but if it happens several times a week, it might be a good idea to groom your rabbit more often. 

Diarrhea is very serious in rabbits, especially during the warmer months of the year when flies are attracted to damp and dirty fur. They lay their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom, and when the larvae emerge they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into their bodies. This can kill a rabbit in only a few days, so if you notice your rabbit has a soggy bottom it’s important to clean it, and to check on them several times a day. If the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days it’s best to take your pet to the vet.  

Rabbit droppings as manure

Rabbits and gardeners are not always the best of friends, but your pet rabbits, and their droppings, will really help your plants. Unlike most other fertilizers, rabbit droppings can be spread on flower beds or veg patches straight away, as it breaks down quickly and doesn’t burn the plants or roots in the process. 

Rabbit manure contains 4 times more nutrients than cow or horse manure, and twice as much as chicken manure, but it doesn’t have as much nitrogen in it, which means that you don’t have to compost it if you don’t want to. Another benefit of the rabbit’s pellets is that they continue to release nutrients as they break down, and will improve the structure of the soil. 

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Things To Do Together With Your Children and Your Pets At Home

BAKE SOMETHING FOR YOUR PETS

A rainy day is the perfect time to stay in the kitchen and make a treat for your pets to enjoy. How about these dog friendly pancakes? Or these homemade hamster treats? Make sure that the recipe you choose is pet friendly, and remember to not feed your pet too many treats.

FIND NEW GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR CAT

Take advantage of all your free time and spend a few hours playing with your cat. Most older cats will have developed their own games to keep them entertained, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy your company, and together you might find some new fun games. Hunting games are normally a big hit. Objects with quick and unpredictable movement will without a doubt catch your pet’s attention, so try waving feathers or floaty fabric in front of your cat and drag them across the floor to get your pet moving.

TEACH YOUR DOG A NEW TRICK

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s just not true. With the right encouragement your dog can learn new things throughout their lives, and it will be a great way for you to spend some quality time together.

How about teaching your dog to bark on command, or to play dead? Or why not take them to the park for some fetch training? There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube, so get your strategy in place and fill your pockets with treats. When the summer break is over you’ll have a great party trick to show friends and family.

POCKET MONEY

Why not get the kids to clean out the chicken coop for you for a bit of extra pocket money? The Eglu Chicken Coops are so easy to clean that anyone tall enough to reach in will be able to get it spotless in no time. Get them to bring in the new eggs and you can all have lunch together!

HOMEMADE TOYS FOR RABBITS

You can find fun toys for your rabbits in our shop, but if you want to make something together with the kids you can find plenty of toy material in the garden or around the house.

Locate a willow tree and collect some twigs to weave into a ball or a wreath. Your rabbits will love playing with their new toys as well as nibble on the nutritious wood.

If you’ve got an old towel or a pair of jeans you’re getting rid off you can make a rag doll for your rabbits. Use your creativity to make something beautiful, or just tie a knot in the middle of a strip of sturdy fabric that the rabbits can throw around on their run and rip to shreds. Make sure to take it away before they’ve ruined it completely though, as you don’t want them to ingest too much fabric.

BUILD AN OBSTACLE COURSE FOR YOUR HAMSTER

Hamsters love running, jumping and climbing, and you will have fun creating a challenging obstacle course for your pet. Start by finding a safe area in your house where the hamster can be let out, away from open doors and other pets. You might want to build the course inside a play pen, or create a barrier of books or other heavy objects. Just make sure they can’t fall over and hurt the hamster.

You can use lego to create the outline of the obstacle course. Lego pieces will also make great jumps and steps. Use lolly sticks to build a ladder or a ramp for the hamster to climb up on. Make sure the lolly sticks are clean, and that you use a non-toxic glue. You can also build tunnels and hiding places with loo rolls and cardboard boxes. Glue them together to create a maze within the obstacle course.

Hide treats in different places to encourage your hamster to explore! Start small and see which parts your hamster enjoys the most, and then you can extend the course as you go along.

PHOTO SHOOT

Experiment with taking photos of your pet in different locations. Put them against a white wall in the house for a nice studio shoot, or try getting action shots in the garden. If your pet will accept any type of clothing you can dress him or her up in different outfits and funny hats, and make them pose for the camera. Why not start an instagram account for your pet to show the world how cute he or she is? Here are our best tips for taking better photos of your pets.

EGG PAINTING

Why limit the egg fun to Easter? Boil some eggs and let them cool, then get the art supplies out and decorate to your heart’s content. You can decide on a theme that everyone has to follow, or if you’re feeling competitive you can get friends and family to judge the eggs in different categories – ”Most Creative”, ”Most Colourful”, ”Best Egg Pun” etc.

ABSTRACT PAW ART

Let your dog’s creative juices flow and let him or her create a beautiful piece of art. Get some toxic-free, water based paint and put your dog’s paws in it. With some treats, guide the dog to a blank canvas and let them walk all over it, creating an abstract paw-print painting. Have water at hand to clean the paws as soon as you’re happy with the result. This might be best as an outdoor activity to avoid the risk of paw prints on carpets and furniture.

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How to Care for Your Rabbits in Summer

Summer is the greatest time of the year, but when the temperature rises it’s important to make sure your rabbits, and their home, are ready for the warmer weather. Rabbits are generally very hardy animals, but they actually tend to deal better with cold spells than with extreme heat. 

It might be tempting to move your outdoor rabbits inside your air-conditioned house to help them stay cool, but sudden changes in temperature can actually be worse for them than  staying outside in the heat. It is, however, important to know that rabbits can die from heat stroke, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent your rabbits from getting ill. 

The Hutch

The easiest thing to do to make sure your rabbits are comfortable is to get them a hutch that stays cool even in the height of summer. The Eglu Go hutch has twin-wall insulation that keeps the heat out, and makes the temperature in the hutch stay relatively stable throughout the day. It also has a draught-free ventilation system that encourages air to flow through the hutch without creating a nasty draft. 

Another important thing is shade. If possible, place the rabbits’ hutch and play area in a shady part of the garden, ideally under a tree or next to a building that blocks the sun. If different parts of the garden are shaded at different times of the day you might be able to move the play area as the day goes on. This is very easy with Omlet’s Zippi runs and tunnel system. If you don’t have any natural shade you will need to add covers and sun shades to the run to make sure that your rabbits can be outside without having to be in direct sunlight.

Food and Water

Make sure that your rabbits have plenty of fresh water at all times. Consider changing the water several times a day when it’s very hot; rabbits are much more likely to drink more if the water is nice and cool, just as you would. Speaking of water, fill a few plastic bottles and put them in the freezer for a few hours. You can then place them on the run or in the hutch for your rabbits to lean against when they’re feeling warm. Prepare a few bottles so you can swap them around when the first ones have melted. 

Your bunnies will also love to eat cool and refreshing things when the sun is out. Try washing the vegetables you are giving to your rabbits with cold water before you bring them out to the hutch. 

Grooming

Other things you can do if you think your rabbits are finding the summer a bit sweaty is to remove all their excess fur. Brush your pets more regularly in summer to make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary layers. If you think your pets are looking particularly hot you can mist their ears with cool (but not ice cold) water from a spray bottle. Do however make sure the water doesn’t get into the ear canal. Another important thing to think about is the rabbits probably won’t appreciate getting handled during the hottest hours of the day, so leave play time to later in the evening. 

Fly Strike

It is also very important to know that the risk of fly strike is much higher during the summer months. Fly strike is caused by flies getting attracted to damp fur, urine and faeces and laying their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom. When the maggots are born after a few hours they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into the body. Fly strike can kill a healthy rabbit who just happens to have loose stools for a day or two, but if you know that your rabbit sometimes struggles to clean itself it is extra important that you check their bottoms daily. If you see any signs of fly strike, contact your vet immediately. The same goes for heat stroke. Don’t panic and dip your rabbit in cold water, instead take your rabbit to a cool room inside to try to lower their body temperature while you phone the vet. 

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How to give your rabbits more space with Zippi

Rabbits are designed to run, and they love hurtling around on the grass, sprinting back and forth and doing big jumps in the air. In the wild, rabbits will run about 3 miles every day, and it’s important to make sure your pet rabbit gets sufficient exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Rabbits who are confined to their hutch for most of the day will soon get bored, and will often eat too much, which can lead to obesity. Overweight rabbits will struggle to move the way they want to, and are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases and joint pain. Bored rabbits also tend to over groom themselves, and can get problems with hairballs.

You might not be able to give your rabbit a 3 mile run every day, but you should make sure that he or she gets at least 3 hours outside the hutch, so that they can stretch their legs and explore and socialise. The more space you can give them the better. Unless you have a very rabbit proof garden and keep an eye on your pets at all times, letting them run free in the garden is not a good idea. Rabbits are escape artists, and will find ways to get through the safest of garden fences or gates. They also run the risk of predator attacks, and ingesting something poisonous.

A good way of making sure your rabbits get enough exercise is to have hutch that is connected to a run, so that your pet can move in and out of the hutch whenever he or she wants to, like the Eglu Go. You can extend the run to make it bigger, but there is now also another way of giving your rabbits more space.

Omlet’s Zippi runs are cleverly designed playpens for rabbits and guinea pigs that allow you and your kids to spend time with your pets as they are enjoying a new patch of grass in the garden. The optional roof and underfloor mesh keeps the rabbits safe if you want to keep them in the run while you’re not around, and the skirt stops predators from digging in. The runs can easily be moved when the rabbits have trimmed the grass in one area, so you won’t have to get the mower out every weekend!

 

Many people find moving their rabbits between the run and the hutch a very stressful part of the day. You want your rabbit to have a run around, but you probably don’t fancy chasing them around the run for half an hour every evening when it’s time to go back in. This can be solved with the Zippi tunnel system. If you’ve decided to give your rabbits more space with a new run, you can easily connect these to their hutch and create your own system that the rabbits will love running in, as it’s a version of the warrens they would have created in the wild. The fact is that rabbits who have the freedom of moving in and out of their hutch as they please will happily go back inside by themselves when night falls, and then all you have to do it close the door that gives access to the tunnels.

Make sure you furnish your pets’ new run or play pen with things you know they will love. Maybe you want to give them a few more hideaways? A digging pit? Or maybe a few boredom busting toys to gnaw on.

You can see all the different versions of out Zippi runs and play pens on our website, so that you can find one that suits both you and your pets!

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