[Image taken from geekmontage.com]
Q: I am a new owner of a rabbit and I've some doubts over the dos and don'ts of rabbit care. Can I bathe my rabbit? If not, how do I keep him clean, as his fur is getting dirty as he lies on his pee. My rabbit is kept in an aluminum cage with aluminum gauze at its base. Is it harmful to the rabbit's feet? What should be placed on the base instead?
A: Yes, you can bathe your rabbit. Rabbits are usually very clean animals that frequently groom themselves like cats do. So in general they do not really need to be bathed. If you would like to bathe tour rabbit, you can purchase rabbit-specific shampoos or non-medicated shampoos for dogs and cats, or send your rabbit to a reputable groomer.
If your rabbit gets stressed from bathing—which is usually the case for most rabbits—don't proceed, as excessive stress and struggling can cause your rabbit to sustain injuries such as spinal injuries or broken bones. They might also collapse and in some severe cases die from the stress. Exercise caution when bathing your rabbit and always remember to be gentle. If only a small part of your rabbit's fur is dirty, bathe that area only. Make sure that your rabbit does not catch a chill from its bath. Towel dry then allow them to dry naturally, if possible.
If required, rabbits can also be dried with a hair dryer, which must be set to the lowest setting. When using the hair dryer, make sure that you constantly move it around. Otherwise, you run the risk of heat stress and/or burning your rabbit's thin, delicate skin.
Cages with wire mesh or similar as a base is not good for rabbits in the long run. Although it makes it easier for us to clean, the wire meshing creates an uneven surface for rabbits to stand on, predisposing them to a condition called "sore hocks," or ulcerative pododermatitis. Suitable bedding/litter materials include a deep bed of hay, foam rubber or a thick towel placed under newspaper with hay on top. Litter made from paper pulp or recycled paper products, or litter made from Aspen bark. You can consult the House Rabbit Society of Singapore (http://www.hrss.net) for more information on beddings and basic care of rabbits.