A male rabbit is called a ‘buck’, a female is a ‘doe’ and babies are called ‘kittens’.
In the wild, rabbits are social animals and live in groups. However, domestic rabbits do like their own space so great care must be taken if you decide that “two’s company”. Litter-mates are possibly the best option although they may have to be neutered when they reach maturity. There is also mixed opinion about the benefit of a rabbit and a guinea pig sharing the same hutch. A solitary rabbit will enjoy his run being turned into an adventure playground with, say, a carrot swinging from a rope, empty yoghurt pots and cardboard tubes.
If there is any discharge from the nose, eyes, anus or vulva, you should always seek veterinary attention.
If the rabbit is not eating and cannot be tempted with favourite treats, check its teeth. Rabbits’ teeth are constantly growing and, if they get knocked or are not properly aligned, they can grow into the rabbit’s mouth. The vet can usually clip them if this happens.
If a rabbit stops drinking or has diarrhoea make sure it does not become dehydrated and, if necessary, syringe or drop a small amount of water into its mouth until veterinary assistance can be sought.
Rabbits moult (change coat) twice yearly so will need more grooming to help remove dead fur. This can be achieved in most breeds by using a fine-toothed comb. If scurf appears in large amounts in the coat or bald patches start to appear, then seek veterinary assistance as rabbits, like most animals, can catch mites and fleas.
As mentioned there are many rabbit shows held all over the country, usually at the weekend, and as well as classes for the Fanciers some shows have pet sections. These classes are normally judged on the friendliness and the overall condition of the rabbit and are a good opportunity to find out more about your breed and meet like-minded people.
If you bring your rabbit into your home, remember that they enjoy chewing and that any paper or electrical cables are prime targets!
Rabbits can now be insured against illness, like cats and dogs, with Petplan who have worked with The British Rabbit Council to produce the Rabbit List.