10 Facts to Know About Pet Rabbits
People continue to buy rabbits at Easter. Unfortunately, when that is a spontaneous decision it is almost always a wrong decision.
While rabbits can be wonderful pets, they’re often paired with young children which is not a particularly a good idea.
Here are ten tips for having rabbits as pets.
- When purchasing a washing machine, you likely do homework first. Rabbits are emotional beings who are an 8-to-12-year commitment. “Do your homework first,” says Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society. Pet rabbits (or any pet for that matter) deserves that research to insure it is the right pet at the right time for your family before taking the plunge.
- Rabbits require veterinary checks, even wellness exams, just like dogs and cats. Martin says, “Be sure to find a veterinarian with a special interest in rabbits.”
- House rabbits should be spay/neutered. Uterine cancer rates are very high among rabbits. If not metastasized, there’s a high curative rate, but as rabbits age it’s more likely that cancer will be metastasized, which is then a likely death sentence. Females can be spayed at around six months. Male rabbits can be neutered as early as eight to 12 weeks. By neutering, potential hormone-related behavior problems can be avoided and that’s important because behavior problems are often a reason for people giving up their rabbits to shelters and rescues.
- Pet rabbits aren’t Bugs Bunny. People think rabbits like to eat carrots, and they’re right about that. However, carrots should only be offered as occasional treats. Diet should consist of high-quality pellets and always fresh hay (timothy hay, oat hay, and other grass hays). Access to fresh hay is essential to rabbit health.
- Rabbits are often purchased for very young children – but that match may be one-sided. Young children are hardwired to hug, cuddle pick up and carry rabbits. “Rabbits are prey animals by nature; the only time they’re picked up is if there are about to be dinner,” says Martin. “They’re usually very fearful of being held and snuggled. We also find that adults and older children are better aware of rabbit body language and respond to what the rabbit is ‘saying.”
- Rabbits have acrophobia, a fear of heights. They seem to innately know they can become seriously injured, even when falling three or four feet. “Rabbits want you to interact with them on the ground, on their level,” Martin adds.
“Rabbits are really easy to litter box train,” says Martin. Do purchase rabbit-safe litter, and a litter box that a rabbit can be excited about. That means a box that’s large enough so the rabbit has plenty of elbow room. Fill the box with a rabbit-friendly litter and then add plenty of fresh hay.
- Rabbits are social and love having friends. Of course, you know how rabbits are – so make sure any friends (and your rabbit) are spay/neutered and receive a health exam before being exposed to friends. Allow for speed dating first and place the bunnies side-by-side in cages at the start to test compatibility. Rabbits can be picky about who their friends are. Don’t just push two strangers together.
- Bunnies prefer predictability. And little kids are rarely predicable. Rabbits generally don’t like turmoil (caused by small children) especially without a chance to get away from the commotion an enjoy a rabbit spa elsewhere in the home.
- Rabbits don’t lay eggs. But you can make your rabbits chocolate.