Is the rabbit a rodent?


The rabbit is not a rodent, although it is closely related. Although often classed as a rodent, the rabbit belongs to the order of mammals called lagomorphs (Lagomorpha). Rodents (Rodentia) only have two incisors in the upper jaw, whereas lagomorphs have four: two auxiliary incisors are located behind the upper incisors. Rodents only move their lower jaw back and forth, whereas rabbits grind their food by moving their jaw in a circular manner. With regard to their nutritional needs, the rabbit is compared to a guinea pig, a chinchilla or a degu, who, like the rabbit, need a low energy diet with a high fibre content. Terra food is suitable for young, dwarf and adult rabbits: it contains 22% fibre and is delightfully varied. So it’s perfect for your pet.

Is the ferret a rodent?


The ferret is not a rodent. It belongs to the family of mustelids (Mustelidae), like the weasel and stoat. It is in fact a predator. It was once used to hunt rabbits. They are true carnivores who have difficulties with vegetable food-stuff. The ideal ferret food is characterized on the one hand by having a high protein and fat content and on the other hand by the majority of ingredients being of animal origin. Terra Ferret is the perfect solution with 36% protein and 23% fat, from mostly chicken and fish (to give it the necessary omegas for a shiny coat) and is a great functional mix for ferrets.

One small animal is not the same as another!


There are great differences between small animals. And this is logical: take, for instance, the degu native to South America, the golden hamster from Syria and the Mongolian gerbil. They can actually be classified into two groups: one group of herbivorous small animals (such as degus, guinea pigs, chinchillas) that require a strict vegetarian diet rich in fibre, such as rabbits; and the other group of omnivorous small animals (such as rats, hamsters, gerbils, mice) that prefer cereals and seeds rich in starch supplemented by a regular serving of animal protein. Terra offers these animals a tailor made diet: for example, fibre-rich food for chinchillas and protein-rich food packed with cereals, seeds, fruit and mealworms for dwarf hamsters.

Hairballs or trichobezoars


A rabbit sheds its hair several times a year. It will lick and swallow the excess hair on its coat. Rabbits and rodents can then suffer from hairballs, just like cats or ferrets. These hairballs occur more often if the animals do not have enough fibre in their food or if they do not drink enough water. A daily serving of Terra is enough to prevent this problem as the food contains more than 20% crude fibre.

All bottle fed!


Rabbits and small animals should always have water to drink. Replace it every day and make sure it is not too cold. It should be fresh (straight out of the tap) without being too cold. Use a bottle with a drinking nozzle (or bottle feed) instead of a bowl to avoid any possible pieces of dirt. This type of bottle is always handy if you want to administer a dietary supplement such as vitamins. Its daily water requirements also vary according to the characteristics and size of the animal. So, gerbils, native to desert regions, will require a minimum amount of water, whereas rabbits or guinea pigs need significantly more. Sufficient consumption of water reduces the risk of bladder or kidney stones.

Two peas in a pod!

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If your rabbit is alone, you can get another one. Rabbits are animals that live in groups, but that does not mean they are always willing to share a confined space with another rabbit. In smaller spaces, rivalry behaviour can become apparent between the rabbits. Two small males who have not been neutered do not go well together; the same goes for two non-spayed females. A non-neutered male and non-spayed female may get on well together, but then there is the risk of more coming along … Whilst two rabbits first meet, always stay in the vicinity (with a pair of gloves) to be able to intervene. If a rabbit does not trust the other rabbit, it lay its ears back and raises its tail … If this is the case, beware!

Many people raise rabbits and guinea pigs together, and keep them outside too. These animals may very well be at ease with each other but for each one make sure you have at least one congener and sufficient space. In this case, it is not always easy to separate the food. Choose Vadigran guinea pig food that is suitable for a mixed population. It contains Vitamin C which is vital for guinea pigs. Rabbits do not need it but it will not bother them either.

Introducing a new food


It is not recommended to change diet suddenly from one day to another. A gradual adaptation is always recommended. Take plenty of time, 3 weeks ideally.

For the first week, still serve 3/4 of the old food and mix it with 1/4 of the new product. For the second week, opt for a 50/50 split. For the third week you can mix 3/4 of the new food with 1/4 of the old food. As from the day 21, you make a complete shift to the new food. Always make sure you also have hay for herbivorous small animals and for rabbits.

Spoil them, with full knowledge of the facts!


You can give your pets a good snack to nibble but in moderation. Avoid fatty or sugary snacks which are harmful to your pet’s health. A piece of fruit or vegetable, as well as fresh herbs, is just as tasty as it is healthy for your little rodent. Do not give them snacks for no reason, use it as a way to achieve something, both physically and mentally:


  • By hiding the snack around the animal’s pen, you can get them to move and be active.
  • Use a piece of kiwi or strawberry. They are natural sources of vitamin C.
  • Mix flavourful herbs with hay or food. It stimulates appetite and digestion.
  • Improve your relationship with the animal by offers a snack at the right moment.
  • Reward good behaviour with a snack.
  • Hide snacks to boost their natural instinct of foraging for food.
Whole foods or dietary supplements?


According to legislation, all pet food and snacks must bear the label “whole food” or “dietary supplement”. Whole food means it contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed by the animal for whom it is intended. This therefore means that the animal does not actually need anything else. A dietary supplement is supposed to be given in addition to other food. It does not contain all the nutrients the animal needs but “supplements”. However, if it is the only source of nutrition, it is very likely that the animal could face health risks. So always check what is written on the label or packaging.

That is why it is also important to exercise the necessary rigour to find the best muesli-based food so that the animal eats everything. Crushed seeds usually contain vitamins and minerals and it is precisely these vitamins and minerals that they do not like much: this is “selective nutrition”. Terra does not have this problem; the product does not contain these seeds but only extruded pellets that they like and are even their favourite.

Precocial or altricial?


With precocial animals, the young are already sufficiently developed at birth to leave the place where they were born within a relatively short period of time, and to accompany their parent (s) on their own. However, in the altricials, the young are not yet sufficiently developed at birth and have to stay for longer in the nest or burrow where their parents take care of them.

Guinea pigs are precocial. The young are born with all their hair; they can already see, smell and run. Their milk teeth are replaced when in their mother’s womb, so that as new-borns they can nibble on solid food. They will still however drink and nourish themselves with plenty of their mother’s milk for the first three weeks.

Rabbits are altricial. They are born naked and blind. They only open their eyes after ten days. They are nursed for 28 days.

Chinese calendar


In the Chinese calendar, the rabbit (or hare) is the fourth animal that appears in the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac; 2011 was the last Year of the Rabbit, 2023 will be next.

According to Chinese astrology, the rabbit is honest, intuitive, sensitive and cautious.

In some Chinese horoscopes, as in Vietnam, the rabbit has been replaced by the “cat”. In fact, this is contrary to the legend of the Chinese zodiac: the cat, due to the fault of the rat, arrived too late to give its name to a year.

The rat (or mouse) is also mentioned in this calendar. It is the first animal of the cycle. 2020 will be the next Year of the Rat. According to Chinese folklore, those born under this sign are: charming, economical, effective, diplomats, enterprising, ambitious, flexible, eloquent but also hypocritical, weak, opportunists, spenders and motivated by their own interests. In some countries, rats are a symbol of luck and prosperity as they can adapt to various circumstances.

Is a rabbit a “stuffed animal” for children?

dreamstime_s_14130578Rabbits are not suitable for young children as they are predators. A predator takes flight quickly and does not usually like to be picked up and cuddled. Many rabbits do not like that. They get frightened and can scratch, bite and run away. So buy a rabbit when children are slightly older. But this age group tires quickly of their rabbit. And the rabbit is often the victim. Some children take good care of their rabbit but be aware that in many cases, it is the parents who end up taking care of the animal.

How old should the rabbit be at the time of purchase?


The rabbit must remain with its mother for at least 8 weeks. Even up to 10 weeks ideally. When purchased young many animals become ill and are not strong enough. Until this age, young rabbits are not yet weaned and their immune system is still developing. After this age, rabbits also learn to eat solid food. The stress of being moved to a new environment, and the change of diet, may be too much for very young animals. Instead give them Terra Junior from Vadigran, which contains more protein which in turn promotes healthy growth.

What is a Polish rabbit?


When ermine fur was banned in the 19th century, breeders looked for an alternative. The fur from small white rabbits that was especially popular in Poland (hence the name ‘Polish’) was also very popular and generally used for clothing. Today, the Polish rabbit is a dwarf rabbit with white fur, a spherical head, big red or blue eyes and a short, stocky body.

Dwarf or giant?


We often chosen dwarf rabbits, but why do we not go for giant rabbits? Larger rabbits are often calmer than smaller rabbits. Small rabbits are often more active and love to run and leap about. They are a little bit more energetic and more lively. Rabbits from smaller breeds may also be more difficult to handle.

With its nice and gentle nature, the Flemish Giant rabbit is ideally suited as a pet. Take into account however that, given its large size, this rabbit needs sufficient space to be able to move. If you decide to keep a Flemish Giant rabbit in the house, make sure you buy as large a cage as possible in which it can go into. The best thing for a Flemish Giant rabbit would be to put it in the garden in a large hutch with a pen. Of course, this is where the rabbit will always benefit being in the most. As the name already suggests, the Flemish Giant rabbit belongs to the largest and heaviest breeds of rabbits with an average weight of ± 7 kilos.

Does the golden hamster really come from Syria?


The Syrian hamster is originally from Aleppo, Syria. On 12 April 1930, a litter was unearthed there by scientists. The first specimens of golden hamsters to have been caught in the wild had a golden colour. This is why they called them golden hamsters. Scientists managed to breed four specimens by hand. There were three males and a female. Scientists have managed to breed other Syrian hamsters. On 18 August 1930 the first pups were born in captivity and in the same year, 150 Syrian hamsters were bred all descending from this litter. In 1931, the first Syrian hamsters were found in France and England. In 1937, the first private breeders started breeding Syrian hamsters as pets. The Syrian hamster has developed rapidly, especially as it is very nice and very cuddly. In 1938, the first hamsters were exported to America and a year later, to India and Egypt. Many people think that all our domestic Syrian hamsters are descended from these four Syrian hamsters captured in Aleppo in 1930. The Syrian hamster still also lives in the wild.

Popular rodents


Official statistics (source: Fediaf) show that rabbits and small animals re very popular pets in Belgium. In 2014, there were some 1,330,000, which is even higher than the number of dogs. In the EU, Germany tops the list with 5.9 million small pets that gnaw, followed by Britain with 3.05 million and France with 2.84 million respectively. The Netherlands also has a large population, reaching up to 1.635 million. But actually, when you consider these figures proportionately to the population of these countries, Belgium is the true European champion.