Jul 13Rabbit Awareness Week July 17th - 21st

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The Rabbit's Digestive System

The rabbit's digestive tract is adapted to digest a large amount of fibre. They need two kinds of fibre in their diet; digestible and indigestible, together we call this ‘beneficial fibre’. The first gives them essential nutrients and the second keeps their digestive system moving effectively.
Indigestible fibre passes through their digestive system and is excreted as separate, round, hard droppings. This process keeps the digestive system moving and stimulates their appetite.
Digestible fibre is moved up into an organ called the caecum - this is like a giant appendix. Good bacteria in the caecum ferments the fibre which then emerges in the form of clumps of sticky droppings called caecotrophs.

Rabbits then re-ingest the caecotrophs directly from their bottoms and their systems extract essential nutrition as the digestible fibre passes through the stomach and intestines for the second time. Rabbits will eat the caecotrophs directly as they pass from the body, generally at quiet times of the day/ night, so in a healthy rabbit, caecotrophs should never be seen. Finding caecotrophs in the hutch or stuck to your rabbit can be a sign of poor gut health, and you should seek advice from your vet.

Failing to provide adequate portions of the right kind of fibre can rapidly lead to illness, which can sometimes be fatal

Why is hay so important?

• A rabbit's complex digestive system means they need to constantly snack on hay throughout the day to keep things moving inside and help prevent blockages

• Rabbit teeth grow about 12cm a year!Chewing hay grinds their ever-growing teeth down to a safe level

• Keeps bunnies busy rearranging it and searching for the best tasting pieces

• Rabbits like to eat hay while they're going to the toilet, so putting a pile of hay in their litter tray teaches them good litter tray habits

At least 85-90% of the rabbit’s diet should consist of hay, grass and dried grass, as a guideline as much as the size of the rabbit’s body! They also need a small amount of nuggets – 20-25g per kg ideal body weight is all that is needed. You also need to make sure they have some green leafy salad as part of their diet and fresh water should always be made available.

Book in for your FREE Rabbit Check up from 17th – 25th July in Coolock Vets

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