A rabbit can be your best friend

2009-04-03 00:00

GlynnE Anderson

The pet whisperer

Did you know that rabbits can be house-trained? In fact they are highly intelligent little souls and capable of great loyalty and affection. They learn quickly and can be taught manners, obedience, potty skills, bite inhibition and even party tricks.

Some rabbits are outgoing and have a great sense of humour, while others are more serious, if not shy and retiring.

They also have likes and dislikes, fall in love and can produce four to 12 little ones every 31 days. They make excellent mothers if fed sufficiently and given appropriate nesting materials for their kits which are born naked and blind.

Oh yes, they can also make you hopping mad, especially when they chew through your furniture, electric wires or your best house plant.

And these little chaps can live to the ripe old age of about 12 years, so if you are thinking of getting a bunny, please remember they are a long-term commitment.

What is a Welsh Rabbit?

Other than an indigenous rabbit from Wales, I think you are referring to Welsh rarebit which actually has absolutely nothing to do with cute bunnies, but is in fact, a traditional savoury sauce made from a mixture of melted cheese and various other ingredients, served hot over toasted bread.

I have two grown rabbits and want to know how to tell their sexes. Please can you help?

I was hoping I’d never be asked that question, but I’ll try.

It’s easier to identify the boys whose testes descend between nine to 20 weeks of age. If your rabbit has not been fixed, look for testicles which are furless, flesh-coloured and quite visible once you have located them. The easiest way to tell, is to visit a rabbit expert who has years of experience, but even they have been known to be wrong too.

• E-mail k9acad@iafrica.com or visit www.petshrink.co.za

rabbit fact file

• Their digestive system is similar to that of a horse — they require daily hay to prevent problems.

• They cannot vomit and hairballs can be fatal.

• They can reproduce little ones at the age of three months.

• Adults sometimes exhibit territorial behaviour by spraying and marking with urine and faeces.

• Aggression is displayed by grunting and biting.

• Babies should not be taken from their mothers until they are eight weeks old.

• They are sociable animals that do best when adopted in pairs.

• They often bond with cats, dogs and guinea pigs.

• Spaying and neutering prevents health problems, aggression and more bunnies.

• They can learn their names and simple words like “No”.

• Their bodies are very fragile and bones break easily if handled roughly or dropped.

• Their feet are not padded like dogs or cats and they need a solid floor.

• They need exercise.

• They sometimes “purr’ softly and grind their teeth when petted.

• Domesticated rabbits do not survive in the wild if they are abandoned.

• Organic litter is recommended but not soft wood, chips or shavings.

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