Is a Rabbit the Right Pet for Me?
Bunnies are adorable, but are you ready for one?
Most people do not spend a great deal of time thinking about rabbits and would be surprised to know that these are intelligent animals, who show a wide range of emotions and personalities. Let's point out some facts about bunnies to help you decide if they would suit your lifestyle. Remember, a rabbit depends on you for food, shelter and companionship. Can you provide for him?
Rabbits live on average 10-years
Most people think bunnies just live 2 or 3 years, and are surprised when they learn rabbits can live a long time. This makes rabbits a long-term commitment. What if you move, get married, have children, go to college? Will your bunny stay with you during all this time? Of course, a bunny's longevity is not a bad thing. It means you can enjoy the company of your rabbits for many years to come.
Rabbits cannot live outdoors, nor should they live in a cage
As previously mentioned in Rabbit Care, domestic rabbits cannot live outdoors because of environmental conditions and the presence of predators. Nor should they ever be released into the wild. Domestic rabbits do not have the survival instincts to survive and quickly die. Cages and hutches are also inappropriate houses, since they are not big enough or designed well. Wire bottom floors can severely damage rabbit feet.
Indoor rabbits make entertaining and wonderful companions. They can sit with you while watching television, or snuggle with your feet while you sit at your desk. They quickly learn that the opening of the fridge door means there will soon be good things to eat. They can learn tricks, and be good company to have around.
Rabbits are messy, especially unaltered babies
Many rabbit advocates will tell you that bunnies are clean animals. While this may be true in the sense that they will not run outside and roll in mud, or bring home dead mice and birds, you should not expect your home to remain clean. Since the majority of a bunny's diet is hay, this means hay will be everywhere, (even if your bunny is confined to a section of your house). Hay is messy. Bunnies also shed an incredible amount of hair. They typically go into a heavy shed 3-4 times a year, but other bunnies seem to shed a great deal daily. Be prepared for the presence of real dust bunnies. This means there is considerable work involved in keeping your home reasonably clean.
Unaltered babies can be particularly messy. As you wait for them to become old enough to undergo surgery, they will toss hay around and have deplorable litter box skills. They will also mark their territory, which involves spraying urine. This unpleasant habit diminishes when rabbits are spayed or neutered, but they will still do this when introduced into a new territory or new bunny companion.
Rabbits are exotics
Although rabbits are increasingly popular as pets, not every vet will see them and even if you do find one, they may not be very experienced in treating them. They are still classified as exotics, which means that vet visits are typically more expensive than for a dog or cat. See our Recommended Vets for the one nearest you.
Rabbits hate being picked up & cuddled. They are fragile and are not suitable for children
Bunnies, especially babies, are irresistibly cute. They look like they're just begging to be picked up and cuddled. In actuality, the bunny is terrified. Rabbits are prey animals, and the act of being picked up and held is a frightening experience for them. If you insist on picking them up, they may bite and scratch - both which can be extremely painful. Children can be unintentionally rough with rabbits. With mishandling, they may break a rabbit's back or legs. They prefer to sit next to you (or if you happen to be lying on the floor, they enjoy climbing on your back and checking out the view from there.)
Since rabbits are prey animals, it is important to establish a level of trust between you and your bunny. This involves an investment of time in getting to know the bunny (and vice versa). Once a bunny trusts you, you will have a rewarding relationship between you and your pet.
So why should I consider a rabbit as a pet?
There's more to rabbits than meets the eye. They are intelligent, sociable and passionate animals. They can learn their names, be trained to learn what's acceptable and what's not, and they can even learn tricks. There are even clubs around the world that do rabbit agility (although rabbits are trained differently than dogs).
They enjoy company, but can be choosy who they spend their time with. Just as you have your preferences who you have as friends, so do rabbits.
Some bunnies are easy-going and readily accept anyone, other bunnies prefer the company of a particular rabbit or human. Still there are other rabbits who will make their preferences very obvious and will do anything in their power to let you know what their opinion is.
They are curious and love to explore and play, and some bunnies will readily engage in a game of toss with you. Others will figure out what will soften your heart enough to hand out treats. They can be mischievous. They can be determined and may take on the task of establishing themselves as the head of your household - much to the dismay of your other pets. They display emotions such as contentment, happiness, love, anger, jealously, fear, and will often grieve deeply at the loss of dear friend.
They are anything, but boring and dumb.