What's up, Doc? You can find out at city's new rabbit clinic

BUGS BUNNY has a lot to answer for.

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  • A Rabbit Wellness Clinic has opened at Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital
    A Rabbit Wellness Clinic has opened at Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital
  • A Rabbit Wellness Clinic has opened at Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital
  • A Rabbit Wellness Clinic has opened at Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital
  • A Rabbit Wellness Clinic has opened at Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital

It turns out that carrots are bad for rabbits - who would have known?

But now there's no excuse for rabbit owners not to know every detail of their pets.

Glasgow's Small Animal Hospital, at Glasgow University Vet School, has opened a Rabbit Wellness Clinic.

And its aim is to make sure bunnies in the city are properly looked after.

Vet Livia Benato set up the clinic for people thinking about buying a pet rabbit and for those who would like to know a bit more about their furry friends.

Livia said: "What I would like, ideally, is for people to come and see me before they buy their pet rabbit - while they are thinking about it.

"People can pop into pet shops with their children, see how cute the bunnies are and then buy one to take home without realising what active and clever animals they are and how much care they need.

"Particularly at Easter, rabbits are bought and then, when owners realise what's involved, they are abandoned."

Livia, an expert in small animals and a graduate of the European College of Zoological Medicine (ECZM), has been at Glasgow's Vet School for a year.

For the rabbit wellness clinic, she works with teaching bunnies Eddie and Susie, both three, who are on hand to help new owners - and new vets.

The pair, an angora and a lop, live at the vet school and show would-be rabbit owners how they like to be looked after.

They also allow final year vet students to practice rabbit husbandry on them - how to be lifted and how to be checked over.

Rabbits have very fragile spines so it is important to scoop them up, using both hands, rather than lift them.

Livia said: "Bunnies have very delicate spines and strong, heavy hind legs so if you pick them up in the middle they can take fright, kick and break their spines."

Livia says rabbits make great pets - but not for children.

Due to their delicate skeletons and the amount of care they need, the vet says bunnies are great for young professionals but not for families.

At the wellness clinic, rabbits are given full health checks to make sure they are not suffering from obesity or dental disease.

Livia will coach on "optimal husbandry", that is, explaining to owners exactly what their rabbit needs to thrive.

These include a large exercise area and an exciting range of toys to play with - lots of space and lots of stimulation.

And a large part of her teaching is about diet.

Rabbits are fibrevours, which means they should have a choice of hay, greens and a small amount of pellets.

But carrots and apples should be for treats only.

Livia said: "Carrots contain a high amount of sugar, lots of water and very little fibre. Bunnies need a high amount of fibre to keep their digestive systems running.

"Carrots and apples should only be given in small amounts as treats or when you're training them."

Training a rabbit? According to Livia it can be done.

She added: "Rabbits are very agile and very intelligent. You can train them to follow you around and you can train them in rabbit agility - to jump over small fences. They can leap and twist."

Rabbits should also be kept in pairs as they need companionship and can get lonely without other bunny company.

The best combination is one boy and one girl, like Eddie and Susie, but they must be neutered.

Livia said: "One rabbit is not a happy rabbit unless you spend a lot of time with them. Having Eddie helps to keep Susie calm.

"They interact with one another and if they are scared they go to each other for comfort."

Neutering also helps with health problems, especially in female rabbits, and cuts the chance of them suffering from cancer.

It is vital to have your pet vaccinated and microchipped as well as taking them for regular check ups.

Livia added: "Rabbits are great pets - they have great personalities and are really nice, clever animals.

"They love to interact with you. A rabbit will never come and wag its tail but it will come and nibble your toes and look for attention.

"They are very different from cats and dogs but they are lovely animals."

n To arrange an appointment with Livia at the Rabbit Wellness Clinic call reception on 0141 330 5848.

n Pet Rescue: Page 36

Pets

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