Important message from we heart this: If you are thinking of purchasing a rabbit (or a chick) for the upcoming Easter holiday; Stop and read this column from wht member Susan first! Bringing an animal into your home deserves careful consideration. Our resident bun expert (rabbit lover shorthand for bunny), is offering her knowledge on the delicate art of raising rabbits.
During this time of year, it is common for animal shelters to become overwhelmed with unwanted rabbits. If you or someone you know is thinking of adopting or purchasing a fluffy bunny for a child or themselves for Easter, please, ensure you thoroughly research this choice. Time and time again people purchase a pet based only on the cuteness factor without thinking ahead to the lifetime of care the animal needs. Also, please do not purchase or adopt a bunny for a child. I do not recommend purchasing a rabbit for any house that has a child under 8. Rabbits need careful handling and can easily become injured; often time these injuries are life threatening.
I am the proud parent of 3 bunnies; 5 year old Winslow, 6 month old Wednesday and our latest addition, Zoey (we think she’s about 5 years old too). Winslow was our first bun; we purchased him from a pet store when he was a baby. We did our research on bunny ownership first. This is always key for any animal you intend on making a part of your family. Every breed of animal has different needs, from food, medical, social interaction, exercise and grooming. We decided a rabbit was the perfect animal for us. A bunny would work well in our small house; they do not bark, they clean themselves and they can be easily litter trained. For us, a rabbit represented the best of both the cat and dog world and we were so excited to welcome a bunny into our home.
On that note, I absolutely do not advocate keeping a rabbit in a cage outside or in a garage. Such conditions and isolation can lead to illness, obesity, loneliness and aggressiveness (not to mention the threat from wild animals and predators) and pretty much guarantees the bunny a sad, lonely life, as well as expensive vet bills for you.
All of our buns are what are called House Rabbits. They are caged while we sleep and while we are at work. Then, they are out getting exercise and lounging about while we are home. Warning: rabbits love to chew wires (and many more things) so keep a careful eye on them or you will have unnecessary vet visits. Within weeks of becoming proud new bun parents we had been to the vet three times and had to replace our telephone and some speaker wire. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and they cannot throw up or pass gas and can quickly die if they stop eating or develop diarrhea. Winslow has some sort of digestive issue that he was born with, probably from poor breeding standards and we have to monitor his food intake closely.
We have had all 3 of our buns fixed. Yes, fixed. For health reasons (just like you would for cat or dog) this must be done. Our buns eat fresh veggies, they are litter trained and they LOVE to cuddle. For those of you who hear that buns are smelly and mean, this most likely means that a bun was not cared for properly. Rabbits love to cuddle as much as any other domesticated animal. They just aren’t as forward about it as other types of animals because they are animals of prey. If you take the time to get to know your pet and spend some time in their world, you will soon be receiving bunny kisses and being nuzzed to have a snuggle. Additionally, rabbits by nature are very very clean and with good husbandry there is no odor from a “litter” pan.
I love our buns and wouldn’t trade them for the world. They each have a different personality and have burrowed into our lives and hearts and we almost can’t remember what it was like before we had them.
If you are considering adopting a bun, please, browse the websites listed here to educate yourself on their care, the types of breeds as well as read fun tips on toys, housing and clicker training. Also please note that rabbits are considered Exotic animals, so you should be sure to research that you have a vet near you that specializes in exotics (or be willing to drive the distance you need to have your bunny get check-ups). Before you adopt, make sure you ask the vet if they are accepting new patients.
If you find that you have any pet and can no longer care for it for any reason, please do not abandon your pet. Take the animal to a foster home, a no-kill shelter or if you must, your local rescue. Your pet stands a fighting chance of finding a home if you do this. Two of my favorite rabbit rescue organizations are the House Rabbit Society and the House Rabbit Network, who work tirelessly to save unwanted rabbits. Their sites are filled with helpful information on caring for and raising rabbits, and, of course, are filled with adorable photographs.
Finally, if adopting a bun isn’t right for your family, please donate to a shelter this holiday. With the economy the way it is, many shelters are inundated with incoming animals, while facing rapidly depleting funds. Both sites listed above accept online donations or drop one off at a local rescues (here in L.A., The Rescue Train does amazing work, hint, hint ~T) Oh, and if you already own a bun (or two or three) hop on over to www.busybunny.com for some great toys, treats and tchochkies.
If you have any questions on owning a rabbit please feel free to ask, I’ll be happy to help in any way I can. Just leave me a message on my we heart this wire. By the way, I am not a trained vet or animal nurse, I’m just a rabbit lover!