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"Bridget" - Responsible Rabbit Ownership


Photo: Bridget

Bridget

 

Bridget, like all other rabbits cannot vomit. Consequently, anything that she eats can only go in one direction.

Fortunately, her digestive system is highly efficient and is designed to function on a low quality, high fibre diet consisting mainly of grass. Indigestible fibre stimulates her bowels and has a protective effect against enteritis.

This highly evolved system allows wild rabbits to spend the minimum time possible above ground in an effort to avoid capture from prey animals.

Additionally and logically in an effort to avoid attracting attention from carnivores they have a very poor ability to display fear and pain behaviour. Whilst this may make it more difficult for predators to identify the more vulnerable individual it also makes it extremely difficult for both vet and owner to identify early clinical signs of disease. This feature means that if pet rabbits are to live their full life expectancy of 10 years they require a considerable amount of effort to ensure that they remain healthy.

Fortunately, Bridget is vaccinated against disease, lives mainly on grass, is examined daily for fly strike and is weighed on a regular basis to boost her chances of living to her full potential. Despite their appeal as the UK's third most popular pet many prospective owners fail to appreciate the effort required in responsible rabbit ownership. Fortunately for Bridget her prospects of reaching a pensionable age look good!

 

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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