Congratulations on your new rabbit

We are so glad you have made the decision to adopt a rabbit from Animal Aid!

If you are having any problems or have any questions please contact the shelter as soon as you can.


35 Killara Road Coldstream
03 9739 0300

Animal Aid Gippsland (Sale)

111 Hopkins Road Fulham
03 5144 5940

Animal Aid East Gippsland (Bairnsdale)

40 Giles Road Bairnsdale
03 5152 1389

Thank you for choosing to adopt your new rabbit from Animal Aid. All rabbits are desexed, microchipped and vaccinated prior to adoption, and the following notes will provide you with useful information about how to feed and care for your new pet at home, and also about how to reduce the risk of your new pet getting sick.

Rabbits are very playful, entertaining and rewarding pets. While rabbits are often considered the perfect children’s pet, remember that they must be supervised and an adult must take responsibility for your bunny’s care. Rabbits do have sharp teeth and can bite quite hard when afraid. When lifting rabbits care must be taken to support their back and hind-legs.


Rabbits can live happily indoors or in large hutches outside. Inside, rabbits need a cage they can feel safe in and where they can be enclosed happily when you are not home to supervise them. You will need to rabbit proof you home. Unfortunately, things like electrical cords look pretty good to chew on! Your rabbit’s cage should allow them to leap along it three times and be able to stand up full stretch.

Hay can be provided as bedding and many owners find that using hay in the litter box also helps with toilet training as bunnies often poo where they are eating. Clean fresh hay needs to be provided daily. Bunnies are easy to train to use a litter tray as they prefer to urinate and defecate in the one place. All rabbits need four hours minimum free ranging exercise during the day.

If outside, housing needs to be big enough for your rabbits and should have a weather proof area, as well as being secure to protect them from predators such as foxes, dogs and cats. There are lots of different designs, but one which allows your rabbit to graze on the lawn is fantastic. Cages need to be cleaned regularly and rabbits should never be left in a situation where they are getting wet and dirty because of an untidy cage.



Your rabbit has had a microchip inserted under its skin between the shoulder blades. A microchip is a device the same size as a grain of rice which carries a unique 15 digit code which is linked to your details on a central computer database. This means that if your bunny were to escape it could be identified and returned to you quickly. If your rabbit goes missing, you should contact your neighbours, your local veterinary clinics and local pound facilities.

Remember to ensure that your details are kept current; you can update any of your information via Central Animal Records.



There are two main viruses which affect pet rabbits; Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (Calcivirus). Vaccination is only available for Calcivirus in Australia and is recommended from 12 weeks of age and then yearly for life. The risk of your rabbit get Myxomatosis is reduced by having indoor rabbits and trying to keep mosquitos (which transmit the virus) away from them.


All rabbits should be desexed. This helps to stop unwanted baby bunnies, but also helps with behavioural problems and stops some cancers in female rabbits. Bunnies are much happier with friends and a bonded pair of desexed rabbits are a delight to see spending time playing and grooming each other. Desexing can be done from 4 months for male rabbits and five-seven months for female rabbits.

When to visit the vet

It is very important for your rabbit to see a vet if he/she:

  • Requires annual vaccination
  • Stops or slows down eating
  • Has any obvious injury
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Has any lumps on its face or jaw
  • Has swollen or runny eyes
  • Is unwell in any other way

Rabbits have a special digestive system designed to eat low energy food. Somehow they can turn that dry grass and weeds into enough energy to be the vibrant, active little things. This makes them very easy and cheap to feed, but also makes them very easy to spoil. Healthy sweets are great for training or just for a treat; including, apple, banana, berries, grapes, carrots, peaches and pears. All of these foods should be fed in small amounts.

The main food source should be good quality grass or oaten hay. Your rabbit should be allowed to eat as much of this hay as they life. Leafy green vegetables are also important and should be fed daily, with a quantity of approximately 1 cup of vegetables per kilo of rabbit a day. Remember to start new foods slowly. A bunny’s favourite vegetables include:

  • Endive
  • Radish tops
  • Strawberry tops
  • Spinach
  • Dandelion flowers & leaves
  • Herbs; parsley, coriander & mint
  • Swiss chard
  • Many grasses & weed
  • Beet tops
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Choy Sum
  • Kale
  • Silverbeet

 NEVER give iceberg lettuce, beans, corn rhubarb or potato peels to your bunny.

There are lots of pellets and rabbit mixes on the market, but many of these are quiet unhealthy when fed in large amounts. We recommend using Oxbow pellets, which are much higher in fibre and do not contain grains like these pre-mixed foods do. Pellets help to prevent ‘selective feeding’; however they still need to be fed sparingly.

All diet changes must be done slowly and we strongly recommend discussing this with your veterinarian before going ahead.



Rabbits have sensitive temperaments and are easily frightened and stressed by unfamiliar noise or animals and people in their surroundings. They can die from fright and are reliant on their carers to keep them safe and stress free. They see in shapes and will only see a shape approach them. It is important to talk to your bunny so that they recognise your voice as you approach them. The more the bunny is around you the more they will recognise and become used to your voice. They mistrust humans if scared and their only defense is to bite to protect themselves. A child poking fingers into the bunny enclosure will also alarm the bunny.

Rabbits, with human interaction, are affectionate pets. Bunnies learn to trust and will bond with humans the more interaction you have with them. They like routine and will let you know when it is dinnertime.

Rabbits have sensitive health needs. As a prey animal, rabbits hide illness and it is important to know their habits and what is normal for them. This is evident in disinterest in food, no droppings and sitting quietly hunched and not interested in playing or exploring. Any of these symptoms can result in your bunny dying if not taken to a vet.

Rabbits must be protected from mosquitoes and are prone to contracting the calici and myxomatosis virus carried by mosquitoes and other insects. The government has released a new strain of myxomatosis to control wild rabbit populations and there is no vaccine available for pet rabbits. Bunnies can be vaccinated against the calici virus.
Rabbits can die in the heat and cold. Bunnies do not have sweat glands and do not perspire. Temperatures above 25 degrees can be fatal. Alternatively exposure to wind and rain can also be detrimental. Bunnies should not be left in direct sun. In their natural state they would retreat into cool burrows in the heat of the day.

Rabbits can be litter trained and are clean animals, they use their litter trays more and more once they are desexed. Desexing protects the girls from uterine cancers, which has an 80% mortality rate and calms the aggressive and anti-social behaviours in both sexes that results from puberty.

Rabbits are social animals. The more that you interact with your bunny the more they will learn to trust you and become inquisitive and affectionate and interactive.

Rabbits are affective, inquisitive and interactive family pets in response to human kindness. The bunny is a barometer of how much quality time you spend with your pet; for instance when you allow your pet to spend a lot of time around you they will be tame and interactive. If your pet is isolated they will become depressed, withdrawn and afraid of you. They can attack and bite if you enter their space.


Like dogs and cats, rabbits need to be kept active and entertained. Rabbits love to throw things around, run madly around the room and really love to chew on things.  Some ideas for toys include:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Toilet rolls stuffed with hay
  • Large paper bags
  • Dried out pinecones
  • Baskets
  • Tunnels – e.g. cat tunnel
  • Sturdy wooden logs to jump on

A happy rabbit will often do ‘Binkies’ where they will run along and kick their legs out to one side, just for the joy of it!

Please get in touch if there is any way we can assist you with your new rabbit!

We are so glad you have made the decision to adopt a cat from Animal Aid!

If you are having any problems or have any questions please contact the shelter as soon as you can.


35 Killara Road Coldstream
03 9739 0300

Animal Aid Gippsland (Sale)

111 Hopkins Road Fulham
03 5144 5940

Animal Aid East Gippsland (Bairnsdale)

40 Giles Road Bairnsdale
03 5152 1389

Vet Clinic

Pet Boarding


Dog Training