Ask The Vet: Rabbits need space to roam, guinea pig with nasal discharge

In general, rabbits can be kept in cages, playpens and enclosures with appropriate bedding.
In general, rabbits can be kept in cages, playpens and enclosures with appropriate bedding.PHOTO: ST FILE

In this fortnightly column, veterinarians from the National Parks Board answer questions about pet health and behaviour Answers by Dr Shawn Chia and Dr Juline Chua, who are veterinarians from the Animal and Veterinary Service under the National Parks Board. 


Should bunnies be in cages?

My name is Dawn and I am 11 years old. I have a pet bunny called Oreo, which is of the lionhead breed. I have watched several YouTube videos that say bunnies do not belong in cages.

I do not have time to supervise Oreo when she is out of her cage and hopping about freely as I am currently preparing for my Primary School Leaving Examination. In the playpen at home, she has space to move around freely. Should bunnies be in cages?

Dawn Tan

Dr Shawn Chia: It is great to know that you are actively learning how to care for your pet rabbit.

In general, rabbits can be kept in cages, playpens and enclosures with appropriate bedding, such as hay placed on a newspaper. The bedding should be changed regularly - at least once a week - to prevent the enclosure from becoming too dirty or smelly.

Rabbits are active animals and require adequate exercise. A rabbit's playpen or cage should measure at least 1.5m by 1.5m for it to have enough space to roam.

Young rabbits can be mischievous and may chew on items in the house, such as furniture and wires, so ensure your rabbit does not have access to these items.


Treating guinea pig's sneezing and nasal discharge

I recently found out that when my guinea pig sneezes, his nose becomes quite moist. I have heard from some friends that if a guinea pig has the flu, it might be deadly. Is this true?

Koh Kar Wen

Dr Juline Chua: Sneezing and nasal discharge may be due to several reasons, such as infection or irritation to the respiratory tract.

Infection of the respiratory tract may be caused by microbes such as bacteria and viruses. Irritation to the respiratory tract may be caused by triggers such as dust, chemicals and environmental allergens.

Look at your guinea pig's immediate environment to identify and eliminate any possible sources of such irritants.

It is also advisable to consult your veterinarian, who will be able to conduct a physical examination on your pet and provide advice on the possible causes and treatments.

Do take your guinea pig to the veterinary clinic for a check-up as soon as possible, especially if he is showing other signs of illness or changes in behaviour, such as lethargy, reduced appetite, rapid breathing or increased breathing effort.


  • Have a query about your pet? Write in with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB of your pet as well as include details about your pet's age and breed. E-mail with your full name to stlife@sph.com.sg. We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.