Food and exercise.
304 What Shall We Do Now?
very handsome. These need regular grooming and great care, or their long coat gets matted and frowsy. Belgian hares are big, powerful animals, rather apt to be uncertain in temper, but they have beautiful glossy coats and are enterprising and amusing. The lop-eared rabbit is a stately beast and less brisk than his prick-eared relations. The Himalayan rabbit has no connection with the mountain chain from which it has its name, is white, with all its extremities—nose, ears, tail, and feet—black or very dark in colour. The Dutch rabbits are small. The body is coloured, but the neck, forelegs, and jaws are white. But to the ordinary owner of a rabbit in a hutch, particular variety does not matter very much.
A good hutch can be made of a grocer's box, by covering the open front partly with bars or wire netting and making a door. The hutch should stand on legs, or at any rate should be raised from the ground, and holes should be bored in the bottom for drainage. Then put in clean straw, and it is ready for the rabbit. In cold or wet weather and at night, it is well to throw a cloth over the hutch for warmth. The hutch must be well ventilated, and it should be made in two compartments, one to admit plenty of light, and the other dark. It should be made so that the animal may be confined in either compartment while the other is cleaned out.
Bran, grain, and vegetables—such as peas, parsley, carrots, turnip-tops, but not much cabbage-—serve for rabbits' food. It is advisable to vary it occasionally. The leaves should not be wet, but a dish of clean water may always stand in the hutch.
The animal should be allowed at least half an hour's run every day, precautions being taken against its burrowing habits, and against its finding anything poisonous to eat. More than one family should not be allowed out at the same time, as they are very pugnacious. Most diseases are the result of neglect in cleaning out the hutch regularly and thoroughly. Rabbits which most nearly approach the wild in colour are hardiest.