Do not keep adult rabbits together – particularly adults of the same sex who will almost certainly fight. Put a doe with a buck only for mating.
It is generally best to keep a rabbit in a hutch outside in a sheltered spot, or in a well ventilated shed or outbuilding. Do not keep rabbits in a garage (car fumes could kill them) or in a greenhouse, conservatory or in the home (the heat will be too much for them).
Ideally, the rabbits should have a movable pen, in addition to a hutch, where they can be put out for exercise on the grass every day in good weather. Unless the pen is very secure, you will need to keep an eye on them to prevent them from escaping or being molested by dogs or cats.
This must be roomy enough for the rabbit to stretch and sit up, no less than 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and 18 inches high, and well of the ground to protect the rabbit from damp and frost. The roof should be sloped, with a fall of about 2 inches from front to back, and covered with roofing felt. It should overhang all round the hutch – at least 3 inches at the front.
About one third of the hutch should b e closed in with a solid door for a sleeping and nesting area. The rest of the hutch should have a separate door covered with ½ inch wire mesh. Both doors should be securely bolted. Make sure nothing inside the hutch could injure the rabbit – the mesh should be sandwiched between laths and the door frame./
A good construction us a hutch made from 13mm plywood panels inside a frame of 2×1 inch softwood battens so that the rabbit cannot easily gnaw the woodwork. All the woodwork should have been treated with one of the wood preservatives not toxic to animals. If the floor is slightly sloped to the rear, with a drainage slot of about ¼ inch at the base of the back panel, it saves a lot of cleaning out.
Feed rabbits twice a day at the same times each day. See how much they eat within half an hour of feeding and offer this amount at future feeds. Put the food in a heavy earthenware dish.
Give plenty of fresh hay each day, as well as grass, cabbage, sprouts, lettuce (sparingly), carrot, turnip, or radish tops. Do not feed potato tops, rhubarb or broad bean haulm. You can also give parsnips. Suitable weeds include dandelions (sparingly), clover, chickweed, shepherds purse, groundsel and coltsfoot. But do not give daisies or buttercups. Make sure that any weeds (from a garden or hedgerow) are not likely to have been sprayed with a pesticide in the previous week or so.
Never feed a rabbit with lawn mowings unless they are very fresh or have been properly dried (not if they have been left in aheap and have started to ferment).
Many rabbits also like leftovers, such as toast, cold porridge or apple or potato peelings.
Special, nutrient rich rabbit pellets are available in pet shops, but rabbits generally prefer other foods as well. They also need fresh water, put in a heavy bowl or water dispenser.
Do not be disturbed if you see the rabbit eating some of its own droppings, this is a normal part of digestion.
Keeping a hutch clean
Line the floor of a hutch with layers of newspaper covered with straw, sawdust or wood shavings, leaving only the area with the feeding pots uncovered. Change the covering once or twice a week, more often if there is a litter of young.
Handling a pet
Put a hand under the rabbit’s abdomen to lift it up, and quickly put the other hand under its rump to support its weight. Hold it against your chest, supporting its head and ears. Handle the rabbit frequently to win its confidence. Make slow, quiet and gentle movements. Unexpected or abrupt noises will frighten the rabbit and it can be difficult to regain its confidence. Never lift a rabbit by its ears as it is both cruel and unnecessary.
A doe produces young about 31 says after mating. Make sure she has plenty of hay and straw for nesting for about a week beforehand. She will make the nest herself, lining it with fur from her chest. The young are born blind and without fur, and do not leave the nest for two to three weeks. Do not disturb the nest, the litter is usually covered with fur, which can be seen rising and falling as the youngsters breathe. Make sure the doe has plenty of food and water while she is nursing. Do not take young rabbits away from their mother before they are at least six weeks old. Do not let young rabbits eat too much wet grass or green stuff as this causes bloating or diarrhea. Bramble leaves help stem diarrhea.