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Pet Rabbits: Things To Know - Love Your Rabbit

Here are a few helpful things you may (or may not) know about rabbits.

Pet Rabbits Are:

  • Reportedly the third most abandoned pet in shelters (after dogs and cats)
  • Expensive compared to other common house pets
  • A long-term commitment (can live 10-plus years)
  • Fragile creatures: health, body structure, et cetera
  • Crepuscular animals. They are not nocturnal. Most rabbits are very active throughout the day/night, but moreso near dusk and dawn
  • Can take 18-20 naps in a 24-hour period
  • Lumped into the broad category of “exotic pets”, but require special care that does not apply to most other exotic pets
  • Can eliminate between 300-500 normal, round poops (feces) in a 24-hour period
  • Feeling creatures (they feel pain, respond to stress and suffer when abused or neglected by humans)
  • Very social (they need a bonded partner or a lot of time with their human owners)
  • Naturally cautious and somewhat fearful
  • Curious animals
  • Prey animals. They are very quiet, often hiding pain and illness symptoms, even when acute
  • Territorial. Even when spayed/neutered, it is natural for rabbits to mark territory if another animal has been in their space or they go into an area where another animal has been
  • Naturally destructive (chewers, diggers, burrowers). They are often called BUNSTRUCTIONISTS
  • Called “kits” or “kittens” when they are babies
  • Called “does” when they are female and “bucks” when they are male
  • Excellent pets when they are cared for properly and responsibly
  • Fairly easy to litter-box train
  • Still largely understudied in the sciences

Pet Rabbits Are Not:

  • Good starter pets unless the owner is educated on proper care and handling prior to getting one (or gets up to speed immediately)
  • Toys for kids or other pets
  • Good gifts to someone who is unprepared (to include using them Easter gifts)
  • As cuddly as people might think
  • Good pets for someone who is not willing to “rabbit-proof” their home (covering all cords, baseboards, molding, furniture, house decor, et cetera)
  • Good pets for people who want a cage-confined animal (rabbits should never be overcaged)
  • At ease when they do not have all four paws on the floor (true of most)
  • Comfortable being picked up and/or held far from the floor (true of most)
  • Appropriate pets for young children unless a knowledgeable (rabbit-savvy) parent is supervising 100% of the time
  • A topic of specialty training in veterinary school (in most countries). The topic of rabbits is part of exotic care veterinary studies, which means many veterinarians do not have hands-on experience with day-to-day care and handling of rabbits

Also…Pet Rabbits:

  • Require a rabbit-savvy veterinarian
  • Need plenty of space to run, jump and play every day/night
  • Need a diet consisting of 75-85% fibrous hay such as Timothy, Brome, Orchard Grass, etc, and should have unlimited access to it on a daily basis
  • Should have unlimited access to fresh, clean water at all times (rabbits can dehydrate in a matter of hours)
  • Have a very fragile digestive (gastrointestinal) system and must be fed properly
  • Should not be given a lot of fruit or other not-natural-food-for-rabbits treats
  • Thrive when strictly fed a nature (rabbit-safe plant, hay and water) diet
  • Are herbivores. They should never be fed dairy, meat, man made chemical foods, grass or plants that have been sprayed or GMO foods. Avoid feeding them anything they would not eat if they lived in the wild
  • Should not be fed pellets with fillers (feed pellets very sparingly, if used at all). Spend a little extra money and get quality pellets so that they benefit the rabbit’s health, rather than harming it
  • Should not be confined to a cage as a constant living space
  • Most often sleep with their eyes open in an alert position – head up most of the time
  • Stop twitching their nose when they are sleeping
  • Often jerk, twitch or make noises during heavy sleep (much like REM sleep stage for humans)
  • Eat their own feces (called “cecotropes”) to maintain health. Cecotropes are different than the round, solid pill-type feces that is most frequently deposited as waste
  • Chew, dig and mark territory as part of their base nature
  • Should not be hit, sprayed with water or otherwise physically disciplined for any reason
  • Are fastidious cleaners and will bathe themselves (exception is on rare occasion of diarrhea or runny stools/illness, and then human should carefully “spot clean” the animal’s hind area)
  • Should never be immersed in water (bath tubs, swimming pools, hot tubs, et cetera)
  • Require their living space to be cleaned and safely sanitized often
  • Are fairly easy to litter box train (learn proper setup and litter box maintenance so feces and urine is not exposed)
  • Should be altered (females spayed at 6 months old, and males neutered at 4-6 months old or after testicles drop)
  • Are burrowing animals, so they need retreats (tunnels, boxes, et cetera) and places to hide, even when they trust their owners
  • Have 28 teeth which all grow constantly throughout life
  • Must have hard woods and unlimited, course/fibrous, long-strand hay to keep teeth ground down to proper and healthy length
  • Have toenails that grow constantly throughout life (must be safely clipped on a regular basis)
  • Molt (heavy shed) several times a year
  • Need to be brushed with a soft brush at least once a week to control ingestion of hair
  • Have two scent glands, one under the chin, and one around anus area (called ingenuil gland). This is true of both male and female rabbits
  • Hop around “chinning” items. Chinning is when a rabbit puts its chin on something or someone. It signifiies that the thing they chinned belongs to them or is in their territory
  • Need space to run, jump and otherwise exercise at least a few times each day
  • Will fight with other rabbits to the point of serious injury or even death, if not properly bonded first (never leave two non-bonded rabbits in the same space, especially unsupervised)
  • Can be trained to go into their crate, pet carrier or primary living space
  • Can learn to respond to simple commands (such as running to you when you say “treat”)
  • Take breaks to rest or sleep often, regardless of age
  • Often die in their first year of life due to owner mishandling (improper lifting, holding or carrying), improper feeding and/or improper care or treatment
  • Should never be picked up by the ears, legs, necks, scruff, or by other methods used in the “old days” (we know more today, and we should do better than causing harm to animals)

Happy Rabbits:

  • Will purr (rabbits have their own way of purring)
  • Do “binkies” (run, jump and do an entertaining half-twist mid-air turn before landing)
  • Attach to their humans owners and will voluntarily approach their human owners
  • Will be social and very comfortable in their environment
  • Will be sporadically active, day and night
  • Groom one another (when two or more bonded rabbits or other animal they are bonded to are present)
  • Deserve forever homes with humans who are responsible and properly care for them.

Copyright 2016, Love Your Rabbit, janabrock.com, Author Jana Brock and Bunny Conversations. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. This is not a veterinary site, nor should any information here be construed as veterinarian advice. Photo credits for this website: Jana Brock. Additional photo credits for some website content: volunteers who contribute to Pixabay.com. All readers, without exception, agree to the terms and conditions of this website. Information is shared under the Fair Use Act. “The “Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing United States Entrepreneurship Act of 2007” (FAIR USE Act) was a proposed United States copyright law that would have amended Title 17 of the U.S. Code, including portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to “promote innovation, to encourage the introduction of new technology, to enhance library preservation efforts, and to protect the fair use rights of consumers, and for other purposes.” CITED: en.wikopedia,org/wiki online 2016.

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