Pet Rabbits – What You Need To Know Before The Commitment

The trend of pet rabbits has been growing across America for the last few years, following on the heals of the rabbit obsessed country of Japan. In Japan, bunnies are so popular they have rabbit cafes that allow both pet owners and their hoppy little friends to mingle while enjoying snacks. Their bright personalities and round fuzzy bodies make them hard to resist when it comes to cuteness. This is both a blessing and burden however… Many people, (especially around Easter) are quick to scoop up the fuzzy bundles and bring them home thinking they will be a great companion for their child. The truth is, however, that pet rabbits and children generally don’t mix well. Due to “pet shop impulses” tens of thousands of pet rabbits are abandoned each year. In fact, pet rabbits are now the most neglected pet in England. Rabbit ownership is not something to take lightly (really, no pet ownership is). Unlike dogs and cats, pet rabbits are prey animals which means owning them has to be approached differently. You can’t just scoop one up and expect it to love you, it’s terrified of you. In fact, it usually takes around a week, sometimes longer, for pet rabbits to bond with their humans. Even once bonded, you are still at the mercy of the rabbits wants and needs, not your own. Because of their peculiar (yet rewarding!) nature as pets, we’ve compiled a great list of what you should know about pet rabbits before you make the commitment. Furthermore, we’ve provided some great resource sites for those of you seeking more information about creating a happy loving home for your new pet!

Pet rabbits in the fall!

What To Know Before You Get A Pet Rabbit

  • Rabbits are territorial – they need to have their own space where you don’t go. Fully loving bunnies can turn aggressive should you invade their private space. Even a free roaming house bunny should have a cage or hutch where it can drink and eat and relax in private. Pet rabbits are happiest when they can escape!
  • Pet Rabbits are the easiest of the house pets to litter box train – There’s a catch though… they choose where it goes. Rabbits are creatures of habit so once they decide where their bathroom spot is going to be, all you have to do is place a litter box there! Don’t use kitty litter though, look for litter specific to pet rabbits, often made of recycled paper or wood chips.
  • You can not punish a rabbit – They are prey animals so they are always on the look out for aggression or signs of a threat. If your pet rabbit is doing something inappropriate, it is best to distract them from the task.
  • Because of the inability to punish  pet rabbits, rabbit proofing your home is a MUST – rabbits will get into everything! And they love to chew and dig! You must either hide all power cords, or run them through plastic tubes so that they are inaccessible to your bunny. Additionally, anything you care about must be kept out of a rabbits reach – record collection, books, house plants, shoes – ANYTHING.
  • Rabbits are very different from cats or dogs – they will likely never come when called, can be occasionally stand-offish, and rather demanding creatures. Some pet rabbits have been known to thump their back foot at their owner when they want petted or fed!
  • You can, however, train them with Pavlovian responses – It is advised that rabbit owners condition their pets to certain sounds. Like making a little ‘clicking’ noise when the rabbit is getting a treat. That way, in the future, you can make that sound when you need your rabbit to come to you, like when it’s time to get in their cage.
  • Rabbits can not be carried around like other pets – some bunnies are cooler about this than others. Some rabbits simply will not tolerate being picked up. First of all, you must know how to properly pick up a rabbit. The number one cause of pet rabbit deaths in the home are caused by broken spines from owners improperly handling their pet.

Rabbits can be an amazingly rewarding pet to that can live anywhere from 5-12 years with proper care. They make soft oinking noises and will circle your feet to tell you they love you. They will groom you occasionally as repayment for petting them. They are happy, playful creatures who will do special hops and dances to show you their joy. They are certainly a pet that it’s worthwhile getting to know how to care for! If you’d like to explore more about the world of pet rabbit ownership, check out our links below!

Great resource sites for pet rabbits

rabbit.org
Binkybunny.com
Bestfriends.org
MSPCA Angell

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/madeleine_/307769424/”>Madeleine_</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

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