5 Life Stages of Pet Rabbits and How to Keep Them Healthy

Baby rabbits, also called kits, are typically still nursing from their mother during the first 2 months of life. They are completely dependent on mom for food, warmth, grooming and protection. Baby rabbits open their eyes at around 10-14 days old and will start nibbling on hay and pellets around 3-4 weeks old in preparation for weaning. Weaning typically occurs around 6-8 weeks of age.

Baby rabbit behavior:
Baby rabbits sleep a lot, but when awake they are very playful and curious. They like to hop around, play with litter mates and nibble on toys. Handling should be kept to a minimum during this delicate age.

Baby rabbit diet:
Baby rabbits will nurse from mom several times a day to get nutrition from her milk. Around 3-4 weeks they will start exploring solid foods like hay, pellets and some veggies, but mom's milk remains a primary source of food. Alfalfa hay is ideal for growing babies.

Baby rabbit health concerns:
Common illnesses in baby bunnies include digestive issues like diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear mites and skin parasites. Babies have weaker immune systems so parasites and illness can spread quickly between litter mates. Keep their environment clean and watch for signs of disease. Veterinary care is crucial.

Teenage rabbits: 2-6 months

The teenage period is an important transition for pet rabbits as they gain independence from mom. This is when they are weaned, reach sexual maturity and their permanent teeth come in. Proper care now establishes good lifelong habits.

Teenage rabbit behavior:
As they leave the litter, teens have bursts of energy and enjoy playing. Destructive chewing is common as they teethe. They may act more timid or test boundaries. Gentle, positive reinforcement training can begin at this age. Neutering/spaying by 4-6 months old is recommended.

Teenage rabbit diet:
Continue offering alfalfa hay until 6 months old, then switch to timothy or other grass hays. Limit alfalfa pellets but provide constant access to hay. Increase fresh veggies to 2 cups per 6 lbs body weight. Provide a salt lick.

Teenage rabbit health concerns:
Urinary issues like sludge or stones can occur, especially in males. Dental disease starts around 3-4 months as permanent teeth erupt. Obesity can set in if diet is not controlled. Monitor weight and health closely.

Young rabbits: 6 – 18 months

Rabbits are considered young adults once they reach 6 months old. They are active and social at this age. Proper care and nutrition now will benefit them later in life. Monitor for signs of common health issues.

Young rabbit behavior:
Energy levels are high! Young rabbits love to play, explore, binky and interact with owners. Continue positive reinforcement training to encourage good manners. Spay/neuter by 6 months to avoid hormonal behaviors.

Young rabbit diet:
Grass hays like timothy or orchard should be available 24/7 once alfalfa is phased out at 6 months. Limited pellets, leafy greens and veggies are also important. Feed at least 1 packed cup veggies per 2 lbs body weight.

Young rabbit health concerns:
GI stasis, dental disease and respiratory infections are concerns at this age. Obesity can occur if diet is not managed. Litter habits may lapse. Annual vet exams help spot issues early.

Adult rabbits: 18 months – 7 years

Rabbits reach full maturity around 18 months old and will spend many years in their adult prime as loving companion pets. Monitor health closely and provide proper husbandry during this long phase.

Adult rabbit behavior:
Well-socialized adult rabbits have charming, playful personalities! They form close bonds with owners and most enjoy human interaction and play time out of their enclosures. Monitor litter habits.

Adult rabbit diet:
Grass hay should still make up the bulk of diet, supplemented by leafy greens and limited pellets/treats. Feed at least 1 cup veggies per 2 lbs body weight. Obesity is a major concern, so limit pellets and treats.

Adult rabbit health concerns:
Common issues include dental disease, GI stasis, arthritis, fly strike, uterine cancer (females) and urinary tract infections. Annual vet exams and immediate treatment of issues is key to keeping adult rabbits healthy and active.

Elderly rabbits: 7 – 10+ years

Rabbits are considered senior citizens starting around 7 years old. Special considerations are needed to keep elderly rabbits comfortable in their golden years. Work closely with your vet for care.

Elderly rabbit behavior:
Energy levels decrease in senior rabbits and they sleep more. Joint stiffness may cause reluctance to move. Ensure housing and litter boxes are easily accessible. Monitor for decreased appetite and grooming.

Elderly rabbit diet:
Feed grass hay and leafy greens according to previous guidelines. Decrease pellet portions to prevent obesity. Add more watery veggies like cucumbers if chewing proves difficult. Watch for reduced food intake.

Elderly rabbit health concerns:
Arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer and neurological issues become concerns in senior rabbits. Regular vet exams, bloodwork and diagnostics help monitor organ function and spot disease early to ensure a good quality of life.


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