ANVC's Exotic Pet Library
The domestic rabbit is one of the more common alternative pets we see. Rabbits have been domesticated for thousands of years and generally make good pets for adults and older children. If well cared for, they can live 7-10 years in captivity. Commercially prepared rabbit feed is available and is generally acceptable as a base diet. Fiber in the form of loose hay should be provided on a regular basis to prevent hairballs. Rabbits appreciate the occasional treat of fresh fruits or vegetables, but it is important not to overdo this, as serious dietary upset may occur.
The most common nutritional disease seen in rabbits is obesity. Captive rabbits often get far too heavy for their own good. This leads to a number of problems including vitamin deficiency. Rabbits produce vitamin B in their colon and get their daily requirements of this vitamin from eating their own poop directly from their rectum. The vitamin-laden poops are different from the regular droppings normally found in the cage. If a rabbit gets too fat to reach its own back end, it may become vitamin deficient. Overweight rabbits are also prone to joint disease and a variety of other problems. The ideal weight for a rabbit is very breed dependent, but in general a good body condition should have ribs that are easily felt under the skin, but not seen.