The Pet Rabbit

Over centuries man has used the rabbit for food, clothing and also for scientific research.
Today increasing number of rabbits are kept as house pets, becoming as much part of the
family as the more traditional cat or dog.


  • Life expectancy of the pet rabbit is 5-10 years.
  • Rabbits are social animals and should be provided with a companion wherever possible.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept together, as rabbits carry a bacteria that is harmful to guinea pigs.
  • Their teeth grow continuously through life, and that is why grass is so important in their diet, as it is abrasive to their teeth.

Diet and feeding requirements

  • It is fundamental to understand the nutritional requirements of your pet, to keep them fit and trim and prevent life-threatening diseases.
  • 3-8 hours after eating, soft mucous covered faecal pellets, called caecotrophs are expelled, which rabbits eat directly from the anus. This is normal and these pellets are rich in nutrients.
  • Diet components:
  • grass and hay- should be fed ad libitum(always available)
  • concentrates (pellets) -not essential if grass and hay fed ad libitum
  • green leafy plants- e.g. cabbage, broccoli, chard, parsley, watercress, celery leaves, carrot tops- good to prevent extra moisture in diet
  • fruit- only as a treat(too high in sugars)
  • water- should always be fresh, clean and available

Gastric stasis

This condition we as vets see (unfortunately) too often. It is not an illness, but a symptom of another underlying problem.

Common causes:

  • inadequate diet (too rich in carbohydrates and too little fibre)
  • dehydration
  • stress
  • pain (causes anorexia)
  • lack of exercise


  • small/no faecal pellets
  • anorexia
  • listlessness
  • no intestinal(“gurgling”) sounds

Gastric stasis is a medical EMERGENCY, and you should visit your rabbit-savvy vet
ASAP. The condition leads to a deadly snowball-effect, where a delay in emptying of
the large intestine leads to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. These bacteria
produces gas (causing extreme pain) and deadly toxins (which can lead to

Your vet may treat your bunny in the following way:

  • rehydration
  • pain relief
  • antibiotics
  • motility enhancers
  • syringe feeding

In conclusion, with its sensitive and specialized digestive system, your rabbit requires a proper diet to stay healthy and happy.

Scroll to Top