Make Your Rabbit Chocolate
Rabbits are still sold at Easter and people still buy real bunnies. And, people still find out that they’re a commitment, just like a dog or a cat but they’re decidedly not dogs or cats.
Rabbits can be very interactive, but on their own terms. Experts comment below on rabbits and children. It’s ironic that rabbits are often purchased for children when, in fact, a Guinea pig might even be a better fit. Rabbits don’t like to be picked up because they do have an innate fear of falling, and they don’t like be cuddled. Children innately like to pick up and smother their beloved pets (not always in the best interest of Guinea pigs either, incidentally).
When there’s an issue and the rabbit panics when being held or people simply get tired of their impulsive bunny purchase, they land in shelters or worse just let outside.
Meanwhile, opt for a chocolate one.
Here are nine rabbit facts offered by Anne Martin, executive director of the National House Rabbit Society and director of the Rabbit Center in Richmond, CA, and Mary Cotter, a legend in the rabbit world and longtime board member of the National House Rabbit Society.
- “Making an impulsive purchase of a rabbit for Easter is never suggested,” says Cotter. “People may be unaware that rabbits can easily live 10 to 14 years with proper veterinary care. Impulsive purchases of pets without understanding what’s really involved is never a good idea.”
- “People think rabbits like to eat carrots, and they’re right about that. However, carrots should never be fed exclusively,” says Cotter. “Pet rabbits aren’t Bugs Bunny,” she adds. The primary diet should be hay and pellets.”
- “Keep rabbits indoors only; it’s very difficult to set up a safe outdoor environment for rabbits,” says Cotter. “From products we use to kill weeds or to grow grass to predators, and weather—all are potential problems. Rabbits live longer, healthier lives living indoors only.” Also, rabbits in yards may escape, and those “escapees” rarely survive unless they’re found quickly.”
- Spay/neuter your rabbit. 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 6 months. Male rabbits can be neutered as early as 8 to 12 weeks. “By neutering, potential hormone-related behavior problems can be avoided,” says Martin. “That’s important because these behavior problems are often a reason for people giving up their rabbits to shelters.”
- If your rabbit has a behavior issue, there is help available. The ‘alternative’ of booting a house rabbit outdoors to fend for himself is a likely death sentence. “Even if the rabbit survives predators and cars, he will likely starve to death,” Martin says.
- Rabbits can be litter box trained. Cotter adds, “Get a litter that’s rabbit-safe, and a litter box that a rabbit can get excited about, and you’re in good shape.” So, what kinds of boxes excite rabbits? One that is large enough so the rabbit has plenty of elbow room. Fill the box with a rabbit-friendly litter and then add hay.
- “Rabbits are social and love having friends,” says Martin. “Assuming a rabbit is spayed/neutered—so you don’t end up with more bunnies than you can handle—and there’s an appropriate introduction, you’ll have a happier rabbit if the rabbit approves of the new bunny friend. Allow for speed dating first and place the bunnies side-by-side in cages at the start to test compatibility. Rabbits are picky about who their friends are. Don’t just push two strangers together.”
- “Bunnies prefer predictability,” says Cotter. “And little kids are rarely predicable. Rabbits generally don’t like noise commotion (caused by small children). And, they don’t at all like being held off the ground or hugged. Rabbits may squirm when picked up, and if they’re dropped they can easily be injured.”
- Rabbits don’t lay eggs.