Rabbit Care, Behaviour & Welfare
The rabbit is one of the most neglected companion animals in the UK.
This neglect is brought about by the lack of understanding of their needs and the misconception that a rabbit is easy to care for and requires the minimum of effort; and therefore, unfortunately rabbits are frequently purchased as a suitable pet for children. The rabbit is only easy to care for if you have an understanding of the animal. Although buying a rabbit is easy, information about rabbit care is often limited and therefore rabbit care is frequently poorly understood; with the availability of the unsuitable types of accommodation (small hutches) typically sold for rabbits, the problems begin.
Typical accommodation is a rabbit hutch – the time-served structure that can be found at just about every garden centre and pet shop across the country. But does a rabbit buyer consider that the rabbit is not designed for living in a hutch? The answer to that question is frequently no, because most often the buyer is not aware of what rabbits need. In the wild state, the rabbit may live in a burrow but has free access to the outside world where he can be a rabbit. He is not enclosed in his burrow, waiting for someone to bring water and food nor is he restricted in being able to move as a rabbit is meant to move.
The rabbit’s skeleton is structured for rapid movement driven primarily by the structure of the hind limbs and feet which are significantly larger than the front limbs. The spinal column, being strongly curved, accommodates the specialised structure of the strong hind limbs and accompanying musculature. In the wild state, a rabbit chooses food that is suitable without thought. Apart that is from parental guidance that shows him or her, the right foods to eat. Wild rabbits do not suffer from digestive problems brought about by being provided the wrong foods or the wrong balance of foods. Nor does the wild rabbit suffer from dental problems brought about by the latter. The right foodstuffs for a wild rabbit allow the teeth to be exercised and worn down at the correct rate so that the continuous growth pattern does not outweigh the wear rate.
Confined rabbits who do not receive a correctly-balanced diet suffer from malocclusion and abscesses as well as severe digestive problems. Abscess formation is likely to lead to death. Another dental issue is linked to calcium and how calcium is absorbed plus, the digestive system suffers with a diet too high in calcium. With digestive problems comes the external issue of being attacked by pests such as the blow-fly which lays eggs that mature to larvae (maggots). Digestive problems that cause poorly-formed deposits from the bowel provide an ideal food source for the blow-fly larvae (maggots). Fly-strike occurs whereby the maggots not only consume the deposits around the anus but burrow their way into the anal opening and start to consume the internal soft tissue. This course explores the needs of captive rabbit needs from a biological approach. Demonstrating the underlying biology of the rabbit should enlighten why the rabbit must be cared for in a particular way. Therefore each unit of this rabbit course is prepared with the proper welfare of the rabbit in mind from physical to emotional health.