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Why does my rabbit have a dirty bottom?

Rabbits are naturally very clean animals so if your rabbit has a dirty bottom then there is an underlying reason why. The first question to ask is "Is my rabbit overweight?" If the answer to this is yes this could be the cause as overweight rabbits lose the flexibility to reach round and clean themselves, as well as eat their caecotrophs, which can result in a dirty bottom. Take your rabbit to see your local vet and get him weighed and checked over and then a strict diet could be on the cards.

If your rabbit is of a healthy weight then there is good reason to take them to see your vet to get a full health check. There could be all sorts of reasons from teeth issues, to arthritis to possible EC. Your vet will be able to advise you as to the best treatment. In the meantime make sure you clean your rabbit's bottom for them, ensuring after cleaning you dry them well to prevent them getting cold and also talk to your vet about flystrike protection as mucky bottomed rabbits are at higher risk.

Moving hay around and nest building?

This type of behaviour is often seen in un-neutered female rabbits. Un-neutered females can suffer from phantom pregnancies and you may see her darting around with hay in her mouth and pulling fur out to make a nest. If your rabbit is displaying this behaviour the best recommendation is to get her spayed as this will calm her hormones. Have a chat with your vet about getting her neutered and ask as many questions as you want. In the meantime leave her nest as is, if you clear it away it will encourage her to rebuild and pull further fur from her tummy and dewlap.

My rabbit has become aggressive and territorial, why?

Females in particular can be territorial and aggressive towards anyone coming onto what they consider to be "their turf" but, be your rabbit male or female the best answer to this is to get your rabbit neutered. A baby bun inevitably matures into a teenage bun and with this comes the hormones which can result in a change of behaviour. We would recommend getting your bun neutered as soon as possible so the hormones don't settle too long and the behaviour doesn't become learned. Whilst neutering may not completely solve the problem it will certainly go a long way to standing you in good stead to re-teach your bun good manners.

Is my rabbit too old to neuter?

There is always a risk with an anaesthetic whatever the age of the rabbit, although older rabbits are more likely to have underlying problems which could complicate the issue. However if he or she is fit and well and your vet has assessed them then there is no reason why, with a lot of love and tlc, your bun shouldn't come through the operation just fine. The eldest bun we have had neutered from here was seven and whilst she struggled a little to pick herself up after the op, she did come through well and not only that we caught the uterine cancer developing in her and she went on to live happily with her new friend in her forever home.

Is my rabbit too old to have a friend?

Your rabbit is never too old to have a friend! A solitary life for a bun is not the best they can have so whatever their age we are happy to find the right friend for them. We do have older bunnies handed in who have lost companions or whose previous owner has given them up for whatever reason. So if you have an older bun looking for companionship you might just be able to give a home to a loving bun who has been overlooked because of their age.

My rabbit is only small do they need a small friend?

Rabbits go on smell and they are not fussed on the breed, colour, age or size of the rabbit they are meeting. Housing considerations however, need to be made for the biggest bunny you have. If you have adequate accommodation then there is no reason why two rabbits of different sizes cannot be bonded. It doesn't stand that the smaller will be dominated by the larger as some smaller rabbits have very large personalities!!

My rabbit won't eat hay. Why not?

Hay is a really important part of a rabbit's diet and should constitute in the region of 80% of what they eat. Some rabbits are more fussy than others but some are just not hungry because they have eaten other food. The important questions to ask are whether you are over feeding and filling your bun up on pellets and sweet fruit and veg and hence they are not hungry, or if the quality of the hay is just not appetising for your rabbit, or they have chewed on the bits they wanted but now the left over hay is just not as fresh as it was earlier and they need a top up. Some of the pet shop packet hays are very dry, dusty and unappetising so it is worth shopping around and finding a good supplier. The best hay is often farm hay and whilst we don't all have room to store a bale of hay maybe the possibility of buying a bale with a friend and splitting the storage between two homes would work? Not only is the quality often better but the cost is significantly reduced and you can afford to be far more generous with the amount you give your rabbit.

My rabbit is eating their own poo. Is this normal?

Rabbits produce two types of droppings. The hard round pellets you frequently see and then the soft stool which they usually produce at night and these are the ones your rabbit eats. The rabbit's digestive system is uniquely designed to be able to deal with a high fibre diet and by re-digesting these soft poos, called caecotrophs, the rabbit is getting maximum nutrition from their diet. If you see a significant amount of these caecotrophs in your rabbit's accommodation then it would suggest their diet is either too high in rich foods or they have eaten something that doesn't agree with them.


Please note - these are just some of the questions we are often asked and whilst we are happy to give advice this does not replace the views and opinions of your qualified vet. If you are in doubt as to the health of your rabbit please book them in to see your vet at the next available appointment.

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