If you intend to become the proud new owner of a bunny, you have to start by investing in high-quality rabbit supplies. One of the first purchases that you have to make is getting one of those comfortable rabbit cages for indoor use.
Once you have acquired all the necessary accessories, it is time to shop around for a bunny. If you do not know much about how to approximate the age of an animal of this kind, this article should be of help!
How to determine the general age of a rabbit
As the experts argue, it is considerably difficult to determine the exact age of a rabbit. However, there are a couple of factors that can help you approximate it. As a consequence, by explicitly looking for them, you will be able to tell whether a pet is young, an adolescent or old.
According to vets, a young bunny is aged up to 9 months, an adult has between 9 months and 5 years, while an elderly pet is older than 5 years. Domesticated rabbits have a life expectancy of up to 10 or 12 years.
Contrary to what you might expect, determining a pet’s age is not an easy task. This happens because bunnies have no distinct features that dramatically change over time and that can be regarded as telling. Therefore, an adult bunny and an old pet can look very similar.
Appearance and behavior
To estimate the general age of a pet you have to start by assessing its appearance and behavior. First, look at its activity levels. Is your bunny playful and energetic, or does it prefer to sleep and rest? Does it move around gracefully, or does it seem sore and stiff?
Also, inspect its coat. Young pets generally have a rich, glossy and soft coat, while older pets have coats that are course and rather harsh. This normally happens because older pets do not spend the same amount of time grooming themselves. Also, as they get older, rabbits have impaired vision and hearing and they are likely to look stiff and to move slowly.
Another indication that might point you to the conclusion that you own an old pet is the presence of sore hocks. However, sore hocks are also present in younger pets in case they have developed a disease that affects the integrity of the pet’s coat.
Because of this, it is vital that you consult the vet every time you see irregularities in the appearance of the pet.
You should also be aware of the fact that sore hocks are also developed due to the weight of the pet, as heavier bunnies are more likely to exhibit them. Even more so, a pet that is constantly living in a habitat where there is urine-soaked bedding can also be affected.
Is the pet fully grown?
If you are not completely sure whether or not the rabbit that you own is fully grown, you have to consider the size of its breed. If you do not know the breed, it might help to consult a vet and ask him/her for a specialized assessment. Generally, rabbits grow until they are six to nine months of age.
It might also help to know that, in adolescence, bunnies start to produce reproductive hormones. Because of this, they tend to be noisier and to behave differently around the members of the opposite sex. Plus, when they come into contact with a rabbit of the same sex, they tend to become violent.
Adult vs. elderly pets
Just like adolescent pets, adult rabbits also show hostile mating behaviors. Still, they tend to be less interested in leaving their environment. They are very active when they are awake and they give the overall impression of liking to interact with others and being alert at all times.
When it comes to older rabbits, they are, as expected, less active and more interested in resting. As they get older, they lose interest in eating and they start losing weight considerably. Moreover, they are less responsive to external stimuli and they show little enthusiasm in their environment.
You probably already know the saying that one should never look a gift horse in the mouth. Just like in the case of horses, the state of the teeth of your pet might be indicative of its age. When checking out the teeth, you have to look for overgrown teeth.
Although overgrown teeth can be present at any age, they are more common in older pets, as they generally eat less and less. A telltale sign that might indicate the presence of overgrown teeth is the pet having a wet chin due to drooling.
If you notice any signs of overgrown teeth, and you care about the wellbeing of your fluffy companion, it is advisable that you seek veterinary care. Nowadays, vets that specialize in treating rabbits have rotary tools that can be utilized to trim the teeth in a safe manner.
Under no circumstances should you try to clip them at home. Those who try using wire trimmers or nail clippers to get the job done risk applying too much pressure and, consequently, shattering the teeth or/and causing painful fractures. What is more, when not done appropriately, teeth trimming can be stressful for the pet.
Other signs that are indicative of old age
As they get older, rabbits take longer and more often naps. If you notice such behavior in your pet, make sure that it is provided with all the necessary comfort. If you have the means, you can also supply its cage with a special napping area that includes a soft pillow where it can lie.
If your pet is stiffer than normal, this might be the sign of the onset of arthritis. Instead of waiting to see more pronounce signs, you should visit your vet and ask for an X-ray to be done. Once the diagnosis is determined, the vet will be able to prescribe special meds that can help manage the inflammation and the pain your companion might experience.