If you’re looking to get a bunny this Easter, please make it a chocolate bunny, not the real thing.
There’s nothing wrong with pet rabbits; in fact, they’re quite popular companion animals. According to the most recent pet population data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are 6.2 million pet rabbits residing in 19 million homes. Rabbits are popular pets because they’re perfect for the right homes. The problem? Too many people impulsively purchase bunnies around the Easter holiday (thank you, Easter Bunny) without doing the proper research to determine if their home is right for a rabbit.
Considerations before getting a pet rabbit
Homes with small children often aren’t the best fit for pet rabbits. Bunnies generally don’t like to be squeezed or picked up (most actually have acrophobia, or a fear of heights). Young kids will often try to pick rabbits up and walk around with them. And, even when they’re picked up and “cuddled,” rabbits will usually respond by struggling to get away. Their bones break easily, and they may suffer additional internal damage just by falling several feet.
The unpredictable nature of young children also presents a problem. Rabbits thrive on predictability in their environment.
Rabbits also aren’t as interactive as dogs or cats. Too much affection can be overwhelming and scary for a rabbit.
Another misconception involves the diets of rabbits. While bunnies typically enjoy carrots, they are high in sugar content. Too many carrots may be harmful. Rabbits require a grass hay—Timothy hay, Brome hay, or meadow grass—daily. Additionally, various lettuces and manufactured rabbit diet should be added.
Like all pets, rabbits require regular veterinary care, which means there will be a cost after the initial investment.
The advantages of pet rabbits
Of course, there are many advantages of pet rabbits. Rabbits don’t need a lot of space. In fact, they don’t want a lot of space. So, they may be perfect for apartments and condos. And, you can be assured that neighbors won’t complain about the noise.
While you do need to ensure that food is left out for a pet rabbit when you’re away, or that a friend or pet sitter comes in to clean up, rabbits don’t require human attention like dogs and cats do. Rabbits can be a great pet for people who travel often or work long days outside the home.
Rabbits are reasonably easy to care for. Litter box training is typically seamless. They don’t require a lot of exercise, though a (supervised) occasional romp is healthy.
Inappropriate urine spraying is a common reason for rabbit relinquishment, but spay/neuter nearly always prevents that problem from starting in the first place. Spaying also prolongs a female rabbit’s lifespan, eliminating chances of uterine or ovarian cancer, which is common in rabbits (so, spay/neuter extends lifespan). Also, spay/neuter settles down both sexes, making them better pets as a result.
Rabbits are fascinating creatures to watch and understand. As food enters a rabbit’s mouth, it is chopped and ground and mixed with saliva. In the stomach, food is mixed with acid and digestion begins. The digestion then continues in the small intestine; however, the fiber can’t be broken down, so the remainder moves to the caecum and, ultimately, into the colon and excreted, which is called cecotropes (or night droppings). The rabbits then eat these droppings, which are suited for proper digestion.
Just like in the dog and cat worlds, rabbits are one species with multiple breeds. These breeds vary in size and color combination, each having their own phenotype or look. There are also general differences in temperament between various rabbit breeds, just as there are temperament differences between your average Scottish terrier and a Newfoundland.
Here are some fascinating rabbit facts:
- Spayed/neutered rabbits will live to be about 10 to 12 years old.
- The oldest known rabbit was Hazel, of Norfolk, England, who lived until she was 16 years old.
- Rabbits can go into heat at anytime (hence the expression, “breed like rabbits”). Rabbits are induced ovulators. A female may ovulate instantly when a male expresses physical interest in her, and it only takes about two seconds.
- A rabbit’s gestation period lasts about one month.
Learn more about rabbits here and why your rabbit should be made of chocolate this Easter.