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Holiday Care - Rabbit Welfare Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund

In all the excitement of going on holiday it can be easy to forget about arranging holiday care for the rabbits. You may find yourself going on a last minute or surprise break so, very much like finding a good vet, make sure you have holiday cover sorted well in advance. You have 2 main options: home care, or bunny boarding.

Home care
Although leaving the rabbits in their own environment is less stressful for them, especially if they have a good set-up as discussed elsewhere in this booklet, it is important that you make sure that the sitter (be it a neighbour, friend or professional pet-sitter) is rabbitsavvy. Rabbits are prey species and hide illnesses well, so your sitter must have the knowledge and inclination to visit and check thoroughly at least twice a day. That is a minimum: if they can come more frequently then all the better.

Here's a checklist for you and for your sitter. You can print a version from our website.

Check List for you before you go:

Make sure vaccinations are up to date       
Stock up on hay       
Stock up on bedding       
Stock up on pellets       
Stock up on greens       
Stock up on litter (and rubbish bags!)       
Leave instructions for the rabbit sitter       
Leave vet's name and number for the sitter       
Tell your vet you will be away and leave details of the sitter, along with your permission for any essential treatments in case they need to be carried out. Some vets may require you to leave a deposit for this.       
Clean out the evening before or the morning that you go       
Check over for clean bottoms       
Get a spare water bottle in case one fails, and check spouts work on any water bottles you have.       
Carry out an MOT as discussed elsewhere in this leaflet       
It's a good idea to leave a copy of this booklet with the sitter as well!       

Check List for sitter:

Owner's contact details in case there is a situation on which you have to make some decision

The name and number of the vet we use are:

Vet name______________________
Vet number____________________

Contact details of a trusted friend who can make decisions if contact cannot be made with the owner

You should check the rabbits at least twice every day, morning and evening. If in doubt please take to the vets.

Change water – if using a bottle check spout is working       
Top up hay       
Clean out litter tray       
Check bottoms are clean and free of flystrike       
Make sure everything is safe, ie no holes that could lead to an escape       

Top up hay       
Change water       
Check bottoms are clean       
Make sure everything is safe       

Bunny boarding
The other option is to board your rabbits. There are many professional establishments and the best are booked up early, so where possible plan ahead. Often, rescue centres will board to help with their expenses, and then you have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping a good cause too. Your local vet may be aware of a good bunny boarder in your area, and the RWAF holds a bunny boarding list for members. Make sure that your bunnies' vaccinations are up to date before you go, and check whether they want you to take your own food with you, or if it is included.

Do pay an inspection visit well beforehand (several weeks, preferably, in case you don't like what you see and need to book somewhere different) to check that you are happy with the accommodation that your bunnies will have, and how often they will be checked (this should be a minimum of twice per day).

Hutches should be cleaned using a modern disinfectant product (e.g. Virkon) between residents to ensure they are not going to catch anything from the previous occupant (the brain/kidney parasite E cuniculi can live for some time on surfaces), and although it is nice for the rabbits to have runs on grass, there is the risk of spreading disease, so concrete runs hosed off and cleaned are safer. Many places offer houserabbit accommodation too, so make sure that litter trays are properly cleaned in between, and vet bedding is washed. Avoid carpets as these have a risk of spreading disease as they cannot be scrubbed clean.

House sitters
Probably the best solution of all is to ask someone to move into your home whilst you are away. If you have friends or family willing to do so, this may cost you nothing. A responsible student may be willing to house and rabbit-sit for a sensible fee, or at the other end of the scale there are agencies providing professional, CRBchecked home sitters who are usually very animal-friendly, although they may not have specific rabbit expertise.

If you have several animals or a garden that you have to pay other people to look after when you are away, then a resident house-sitter may be a sensible option. If however you only need care for two bunnies, you might find the cost prohibitive! And finally... if you love rabbits, please support the RWA by joining us today!

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