Feeding is perhaps the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy rabbit.
Rabbits require a constant supply of good quality fresh grass or grass hay (eg oaten, wheaten, meadow, ryegrass; NOT Lucerne or clover hay as they are too high in protein & calcium). Hay & grass should comprise 80% of a rabbit’s diet.
Fresh veges, especially leafy greens such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, endive, brussel sprouts and bok choy are another important element of a rabbits diet. As a guide feed around 2 cups of packed leafy greens per kg bodyweight per day.
Treats such as carrots, sweet potato, capsicum & fruit may be offered in small quantities, but only offer 1-2 tablespoons per rabbit per day.
Rabbits should not be fed solely on pellets or mixes; they should be considered a treat & only offered in small quantities.
Rabbits should always have access to clean fresh water.
HEALTH AND VETERINARY CARE
Desexing is recommended at 4-6 months of age for both does & bucks. This may help to prevent disease & avoid territorial soiling of your house & other behavioural problems.
Rabbits require annual vaccination against calicivirus. If their first vaccination is received prior to 12 weeks of age, a booster is required 4 weeks later.
A hutch should serve as a temporary enclosure only. All pet rabbits should be given the opportunity to exercise outside of the hutch for a few hours each day.
The hutch should have an enclosed area where the rabbit can be protected from the wind & rain, and the rabbit can exhibit “burrowing” behaviour (seek shelter & hide).
Suitable bedding includes hay, straw or shredded paper, and needs to be changed regularly.
It is not advisable to mix guinea pigs with rabbits, as their dietary requirements are different, guinea pigs can get diseases from rabbits and they may bully each other.
If you intend to keep more than one rabbit (which is recommended as rabbits are sociable animals) suitable mixes include 2 females, male & female (if you want many kits!) or mixes of neutered rabbits.
Rabbits may enjoy being patted & handled BUT TAKE CARE! Rabbits can kick out very strongly with their hind legs & scratch you causing serious injury.
Guinea Pig Care
Guinea pigs are herbivores. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their life.
They are naturally copraphagic meaning they eat their own droppings.
They should be offered a constant source of grass or grass hay eg Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Meadow or Ryegrass (NOT Lucerne or Clover as they are too high in protein and calcium).
Leafy green vegetables & herbs should also be offered.
Some high quality “Guinea Pig” pellets should only be offered in small quantities.
Guinea pigs require a dietary source of vitamin C. This is usually supplied by the fresh leafy green veges. It can also be offered in vitamin C rich foods such as citrus or kiwi fruits.
Foods to avoid include cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, corn, beans, peas, breads, biscuits and human processed foods.
Guinea pigs can be housed in a range of cage types.
They do not tolerate heat very well and are vulnerable to heat stress. For this reason you need to ensure that the area they kept in does not become too hot; or if necessary, on particularly hot days you may need to move them to a cooler area.
Provide overturned boxes for hiding places (at least one per guinea pig).
Use at least 2 dripped type water bottles.
Guinea pigs are sociable animals and should not be kept alone.
Mixing guinea pigs with rabbits is not recommended as guinea pigs can get diseases from rabbits.
Their coats may require regular grooming & nails may need occasional clipping.
Ferrets are strict carnivores. They require a diet of meat/animal products that are high in protein & fat & low in carbohydrates & fiber. This requirement can be met by feeding a high quality kitten dry food. Offering raw meaty bones on a weekly basis will also aid in keeping their teeth clean. Clean fresh water should be available at all times, in the form of water bottles or heavy bowls.
Ferrets should normally be cage confined when they are not under direct supervision. They also require daily interaction & play time in a safe area outside of their normal confinement. They enjoy exploring so try to rearrange their cage furnishings regularly & provide plenty of objects for them (boxes, plastic tunnels etc).
Ferrets are vulnerable to heat stress, ensure the area they’re kept in won’t become too hot.
HEALTH & VETERINARY CARE
Ferrets need to be vaccinated against canine distemper. Two vaccinations are required if the ferret is less than 14wks old & thereafter a yearly booster vaccination.
Ferrets need to be on a heartworm prevention such as Revolution or Heartguard.
Desexing is recommended for males & is a MUST for females from around 6 months of age (before their first heat).
It is a good idea to quarantine any new ferrets for at least 4wks before introducing them to your other ferrets.
Ferrets will often nip or bite when playing. They need to be taught at a young age that biting people is inappropriate. If required, ferrets can be gently scruffed by being held up from the back of the neck. This may help to calm them down & can be used with a verbal “no” if they have bitten you.