With Easter just around the corner, many people consider buying a pet rabbit, sometimes on a whim or as a gift for small children. While rabbits do make wonderful indoor companions (who can be litter-trained, just like cats), people should take the time to learn the reality of pet rabbit ownership.
It’s pretty cute, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to give that little bunny to your child on Easter while they’re all dressed up in their Easter clothes? Thing is that bunnies and children actually don’t mix together all that well. Bunnies are actually very fragile creatures and can break easily. Most children are given bunnies as pets on Easter, which is a huge no no in the animal world. Children are not careful. This may not be true for most children, but for the most part it is. Once given the bunny the child will carry the bunny around for most of the day. This will cause stress to the bunny. It’s a new environment and the bunny has most likely been taken from it’s mother recently. The other cause of stress is that we’re considered a prey animals to the bunny. If it’s a bunny that was sold from someone that hasn’t socialized it to humans, the bunny may think that we may be a threat.
Now this child had the bunny or the rabbit for most of the day. Depending on the child’s age and size and the size of the bunny/rabbit there might be some other issues that arise. The rabbit may have enough and start to squirm away. The rabbit’s main defense is their powerful hind feet. If the rabbit isn’t being held properly, they may kick hard enough to cause their back to break. And that’s not something anyone wants because it isn’t fixable…
People believe how that bunnies love to be cuddled and that they are very passive animals. This is not the case. They are ground-loving creatures who feel frightened and insecure when they are held and strained. Children love a companion they can hold, carry and cuddle, just like they do to their favourite animal. It is unreasonable to expect a child to be able to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, or to make a 10-year commitment to anything! All too often, the child loses interest, and the rabbit ends up neglected or abandoned.
Other issues people have when they buy a bunny for Easter is that they see this cute little bunny and believe it’s going to stay small. Thing is most bunnies don’t stay that size. Most breeds will get rather large and if you don’t have the room for a large rabbit what are you suppose to do with it? Most of the time they will be re-homed, sent to the SPCA or released into the wild.
Most people believe that rabbits are a “low-maintenance” animal. They’re small and you keep them in a cage. This is completely untrue. Rabbits are not low-cost pets. They in fact require just as much work as a dog or a cat. They must be house trained and litter box trained. The house must be bunny-proofed. This means pick up everything that you don’t want chewed buy your new little bun bun. Bunnies chew every thing! Rugs, chairs, doors, walls and especially electrical cords. Bunnies must be spayed or neutered or they will start marking around the house. This means your place will smell like very strong urine and feces. Initial costs, which include adoption fees and money spent on food/water dishes, housing, and more, can add up to over $300. Ongoing costs, excluding vet bills, add up to over $800/year. The total costs end up being higher than what you might spend on cats or small dogs.
Rabbits must live indoors. They must become a part of the family, just like a dog or a cat. Rabbits kept in hutches outdoors have an average life span of about 1 year. Rabbits that live in doors can live up to 8 to 10 years. Predators abound, not only in rural areas but in urban and suburban locations as well. Outdoor rabbits become bored and depressed from isolation. To consign these sensitive, intelligent, social animals to life in a hutch is to miss all the joy of sharing your life with a rabbit. Unless he’s part of your daily routine, you will not have the opportunity to really get to know his subtle personality.
A lot of people believe that a a well balance diet for a rabbit is just bunny pellets and carrots. In reality, their main source of sustenance should be hay. Hay needs to be available to rabbits at all times. Hay is vital to their dental and digestive health. This are crucial for a rabbit’s well being. The hay may present a problem to a family member with hay or grass allergies. Furthermore, rabbits need to supplement their hay diet with fresh vegetables daily. Regular purchases of produce like romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, and herbs can add up quickly.
Finally, although rabbits can be affectionate, they’re not as “huggable” as people imagine. They don’t always like being held, and in fact, many times they will try to bolt out of a person’s arms, scratching the person and possibly inflicting serious injury to themselves. Rabbits are prey animals and much prefer staying on the ground. This may be very disappointing to both children and adults.
So while rabbits are adorable, fun pets, they do require a lot of care and patience. Rabbit owners need to have a certain kind of mindset — one that is comfortable with the idea that their moldings and wall corners may get rounded and their remote control buttons may get gnawed off. Rabbits are unique; they are a good fit for some people but not others. Be sure to do your homework first!
Do your research before you buy! Rabbits are wonderful companion animals and work very well in a home that understand their needs.