SUNLIGHT FOR BUNNIES
Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D. As with all mammals, Vitamin D is essential for calcium metabolism and calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D has also shown to benefit cardiovascular health and immune function.
Studies have shown that indoor rabbits do not get regular exposure to sunlight, specifically UVB rays, and are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. The increasing trend of dental disorders, limb weaknesses, heart diseases and lowered immunity have raised concerns in the veterinary world.
In Singapore, most rabbit owners live in apartments and our densely populated community makes it challenging to find a safe outdoor space free of pesticide and mites. Here are some suggestions we have to allow your rabbits to safely access direct, outdoor sunlight on a daily basis:
1. If your home has an exposed balcony or service yard, set up a safe and escape-proof outdoor run for your rabbit to sunbathe for about 30 minutes a day
2. Open the windows to allow sunray to shine in so your rabbit can sunbathe whenever he likes. Provide a hideout so the rabbit can hide when it gets too warm. Practise discretion on hazy or extremely hot days to ensure your rabbit do not fall sick from the weather.
3. Bring your rabbit out in a carrier, find a nice outdoor spot to sit and open the carrier’s top to allow direct sunlight to enter. Place hay for them to munch on and stroke your rabbit to calm them down. Do not leave them unattended and limit to less than 30 minutes to prevent dehydration or heat stroke.
If you are unable to do the above, discuss with your vet on alternative measures. It is possible to install an artificial UVB light but exposure has to be carefully managed. Vitamin D supplements are fat-soluble and can be toxic if ingested in high quantity so please discuss with your vet before administering.