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March 25, 2010

Rescued Rabbits Living the Good Life

  • William and Shakespeare were adopted by Sherri Tarver of Maryland.

  • The two Angora rabbits enjoy relaxing outdoors.

Sherri Tarver knows what it takes to care for Angora rabbits. Her two rescued rabbits, William and Shakespeare, are living the sweet life in Maryland.

Here, she demonstrates what it takes to properly care for a pet rabbit, Angoras in particular.

How they met

Sherri met the pair at a "bunny match" in Baltimore hosted by The House Rabbit Society. Before their rescue, their original owners moved and left them confined in a hutch outdoors. The rabbits were left to survive on a small supply of water in a bottle. They were in the hutch without any food for a long time, and their fur was so tangled and matted that they couldn't fully move their legs.

A veterinarian estimated that they might not have lived another week if they hadn't been found and rescued.

"Willy and Shakes" now make community service visits to nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, schools, foster care, and other places that allow service animals and pet therapy.

A day in the life

William and Shakespeare don't live in a cage anymore—they share a litter box and hop freely in an enclosed room. The rabbits have lots of toys and objects arranged around the room to hop on and play with. They have an endless daily supply of fresh water and Timothy hay, and a breakfast of leafy greens every morning. Rebelling against the stereotype, they aren't fond of carrots.

If the weather is nice, the pair play in the yard, where Sherri constructed a large enclosed and padlocked "kennel" to keep them safe.

Find out if a rabbit is the right pet for you »

Sherri feeds them a little snack at bedtime (often a few sprigs of fresh parsley, cilantro, or other herb) so she can see that they are eating well. Rabbits stop eating when they're sick, so this is a quick way to make sure they're okay.

About Angoras

Angora rabbits require lots of grooming due to their long, fast-growing hair. While most rabbits never need a bath in their whole lifetime, Angoras need baths on rare occasions. As you can imagine, Angoras shed a lot. If you don't think you have the time to devote to grooming your rabbit daily, another breed of bunny is best for you. Left unattended, Angora hair becomes unmanageable and puts them at risk for the (often fatal) medical diagnosis of "wool block," or a blockage of ingested fur in the rabbit's intestines. Prevention is the way to go, says Sherri.

Adding to the family

William and Shakespeare are Sherri's only pets, but other animals can co-exist with rabbits. It's important to introduce them slowly, and never leave them unattended initially. If you are considering this type of mixed pet species family, consult with a veterinarian who treats rabbits first, and get an additional opinion.

Getting a rabbit?

Sherri (and William and Shakespeare) advise that anyone considering a rabbit as a pet should choose to rescue a rabbit and save his or her life. Search for adoptable rabbits at your local humane society or animal shelter, or find your nearest nearest rabbit rescue group for help. Check out our resources for feeding rabbits, housing rabbits, and more »

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