February 5, 2016
What's Somebunny to Do?
Caring for pet rabbits
Even before the last Valentine's card has been handed out, we're often bombarded with bunnies! Chocolate, plastic and plush toy bunnies line store shelves. Cute, fluffy bunnies hop across our television screens or stare out at us from magazine ads.
It might make you ask: Wouldn't it be fun to have one of my own?
It's true that rabbits can make great pets. But people need to learn more before making the choice to bring a rabbit into the home.
Avoid the Return Trip
"Rabbits are the third most surrendered [given up] pet in the U.S., after cats and dogs," says Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society.
People often don't realize the amount of care that rabbits require. As a result, they lose interest in or are unable to care for the animals. After Easter, animal shelters are filled with unwanted bunnies. Some people even release them into the wild, where they soon die.
Home Sweet Home
Here are some things to think about before getting a pet rabbit:
Just like it's best for cats and dogs to live indoors with their human families, it's best for rabbits too. Some people let their rabbits roam freely around their home. Others keep their pets in cages, letting them out for exercise every day. But rabbits are chewers, so you'll need to protect electrical cords wherever bunnies can reach them.
A rabbit cage should be at least five times the length of the rabbit. It should also be tall enough that he can stand on his hind legs without his ears touching the top. Some experts recommend that rabbits should have at least five hours outside the cage each day to hop, play and investigate their territory.
Rabbits need regular brushing and nail trimming. They need things to chew to help wear down their teeth.
Most rabbits don't like to be picked up and become squirmy when nervous. You should sit on the floor and gently pet the rabbit without holding or picking up the bunny.
Without the right care, rabbits can become sad, ill and may destroy things. If you're thinking about adding a rabbit to your household, learn more about rabbit care. Contact your local shelter or rabbit rescue group for advice to see if a rabbit is the right pet for you.