If you are considering rabbits as pets, please do your due diligence and be sure, before you adopt. Here’s a start-
- Rabbits should be kept indoors. If you allow them outside, you must supervise them and protect them from predators, sun, temperatures over 80° and escape. They will NOT survive when they get loose.
- Rabbits are prey animals, and can get killed by your dog, picked up by an eagle, hunted by fox or coyote, and so on. Even human being eat rabbits.
- Rabbits are destructive. Their natural instincts are to chew and dig. They’re like huge fuzzy termites. There’s lots you can do to help them, though.
- Most rabbits can be trained to a “litter box,” but will still have accidents. The little poo balls are not a problem and are great fertilizer, but the urine is extremely caustic and stains do not come out.
- Rabbits need regular grooming. This includes removing excess rabbit hair, trimming nails and if you don’t want to do it, find a rabbit rescue which offers nail trims and scent gland cleaning. I say that rabbits shed four times a year – all spring, all summer, all fall, all winter. And please be aware that although an Angora rabbit is lovely, the coat requires even MORE work than a shorter haired rabbit and their skin is even thinner than other rabbits skin.
- Rabbits scratch. Most do not like to be picked up, or held. Though a rabbit doesn’t plan to cut you with their claws, it happens. When the rabbit jumps away, they push off and it hurts!
- Rabbits are delicate. They have curved spines and if you don’t support their hind end, when you ARE picking them up, you can easily break their backs. Their bones are fragile and their skin is thin. Perhaps this is why they have such thick coats. Please teach your child or children to handle rabbits properly.
- Rabbits can be vicious. The do not tolerate other rabbits in their “warren” or living area and can severely cut each other. One of my does suffered a terrible eyelid slice and another, her bottom “lip” torn and hanging down from her face. Others have had gouges or cuts, which can easily abscess.
- Rabbits should not be on a wire cage. They have no pads on their feet, and can get sore or infected hocks. Their nails too long, can also cause infected sores on their hocks. A pet rabbit needs about a 4 x 4 foot enclosure, my favorite is an exercise pen, the type for dogs, with a platform of wood for water and jumping up. You’ll need to cover at least this part of the pen. They are escape artists.
- Rabbits are not affectionate. They ARE entertaining at times and they all have different personalities. I have eight rabbits, living in pairs, in four different living areas inside the house, and large pens for outside play on alternate days, weather permitting. Some of my rabbits enjoy being held and stroked for short periods of time. I have one buck who “squinks” down when I pass by his pen, letting me know he’d like to be pet.
- Rabbits require good quality hay, such as timothy or orchard hay, fresh water daily (and they drink a lot!) and fresh herbs and vegetables daily (about one to two cups) You can give pellets but not as the only diet. Their teeth grow throughout their lives and they need hay and things to chew on to keep them worn down normally. Without hay, they can go into GI Stasis, and die very quickly. You can get a bale of hay from your feed store or most rescues have small stores. You can keep hay up to a year if properly stored.
- Rabbits are intelligent, curious and fun to watch. They will get to know you if you lie down and be still, at their level. If you keep a routine, they will come to know it. They learn their names. Each of my rabbits knows his or her own name. Later, I will show you-
- Rabbits should not be picked up by the ears and it still amazes me that people still do this. Only a dead rabbit should be picked up by the ears.
- Rabbits are considered exotic animals, as they are Lagomorphs, not rodents, or guinea pigs or chinchilla. A rabbit savvy vet is imperative. On my next post, I’ll give tips on how to find a rabbit savvy vet.
- Adopt a rabbit from a rescue. Nearly always, the rabbit will be spayed or neutered, evaluated and cared for. There are thousands of rabbits waiting for homes right now. Why do you think I have EIGHT of them? Spaying or neutering is essential, as aggressive behaviors tend to disappear with altered rabbits. Also, rabbits do much better with a rabbit companion. If possible, adopt two rabbits instead of one. It’s just as easy to care for two, as one, and they have each other for company, when you’re not available, which is most of the time.
- Please do not adopt a rabbit from a flea market or even a pet store. Properly cared for rabbits of every breed are at a rescue near you or will be. I guarantee it. Please do not adopt a rabbit for Easter. Buy chocolate or stuffed bunnies instead. Easter Bunny Dump Season is a shameful time. Human beings are thoughtless. I have seen rabbits that are loved and rabbits that have been neglected and/or unwanted or abused. It’s heartbreaking.
- Bunnies are the most inappropriate classroom pet possible. Whoever came up with this idea needs to get a lobotomy. Furry, soft and cute to look at for kids. Torture, imprisonment, loneliness and inappropriate surroundings for the rabbit. Rabbits do not appreciate loud noises and if terrified, can die of a heart attack. One of my rabbits got loose one day (it can happen!) and it was nearly dark. When I finally reached him under the redwood trees, he screamed in terror as I reached for him, he was so frightened. I never want to hear that sound again – It was horrible…He was so terrified that he didn’t know it was me reaching for him and picking him up. I cried. I nearly lost him. Three more minutes and I’d never have found him in the dark. Oh, my Didier!
I suppose I’ve loaded you down with quite a bit – get ready – there’s lots more. And I plan to get in to some fun and entertaining rabbit business, as well.
In my next rabbit savvy post, I’ll give you some links and suggestions. There are lots of good reasons to adopt a rabbit. All of my rabbits know me, as I am their caregiver and guardian. They don’t have focused eyesight, but know my form, my voice, their names, my activity as it relates to them, and my handling. I sing to them. I really do. I love them.
If you have any questions, please ask. I plan to continue posts about rabbits and feature my own crew.
Here is Blossom, my jersey wooley (miniature angora) who always looks like a ragamuffin, and my newest bun, Boyo Pollo. We drove four hours each way to Red Barn Rabbit Rescue so that Blossom could “date” Boyo. He was already neutered and his name reflects his personality. (chicken boy)
- A short guide to rabbit insurance: getting the best deal for you (moneyviews.com)
- Regina man rehabilitates rabbit (cbc.ca)
- Carrots are bad for rabbits, RSPCA says (telegraph.co.uk)