If you are considering a pet other than a dog or cat, a rabbit may make the perfect smaller pet. Here are the essentials to know, thanks to animal lover Kim Taylor…
The 411 on Getting a Rabbit as a Pet
If your family is ready for its first pet, but aren’t prepared for a cat or dog, smaller pets are a great place to start. Fish are a very popular first pet for small children. They require little to no maintenance and are fairly resilient. If you want something that requires a bit more care, hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs also make great first pets. But what about rabbits? Like any other animal, every rabbit has its own unique personality. And there are a few things to consider before bringing a new bunny friend into your home.
Rabbits Can be Indoor or Outdoor Pets
One of the great things about rabbits is that they can be both indoor and outdoor pets. That means if you have a spacious backyard area, you can build a hutch or designated area for your pet. If you live in warm weather climates, you don’t have to worry about accommodating your rabbits for the winter. However, if it gets cold outside in the winter months, you need to ensure your rabbit has adequate heat and shelter. You can do this by using a heating pad, extra bedding, or insulate their hutch. While it’s nice to have your pets inside with you, keep in mind that indoor rabbits need ample space for exploration and naturally chew on everything. It’s best to have designated area in your home or even an entire room, that is dedicated to your rabbit and completely pet-proofed. This room should be free of any important furniture or belongings. You also need to raise wires off the floor or wrap and secure them to avoid chewing.
You Need to Find the Right Vet
Just like a cat or dog, your rabbit will need a veterinarian. But it’s important to note that rabbits are considered exotic animals and therefore, you’ll want to find a vet who is trained in dealing with this type of pet. Do your research before choosing one. The Unusual Pet Vets and others like it, provide specified care for your rabbit and other exotic animals. And you’ll need a reliable veterinarian because bunnies are prone to several medical conditions like Myxomatosis, Calicivirus, overgrown teeth, uterine tumors, and snuffles. You may also want to invest in health insurance for your bunny, which could help cover unexpected vet bills.
Rabbits Have Lots of Personality
Don’t be fooled into thinking all rabbits do is hop around and nibble on carrots. Rabbits have quite a personality and just like any other pet, it will take some time for you and your new companion to get to know one another. If possible, spend some time with the bunny before bringing them home. Some rabbits are extremely energetic and playful, while others are shy and quiet. You should also consider the members of your household and their ages. If you have very young children, rabbits are often a great fit. They are generally sociable and don’t require a lot of maintenance. If you’re keeping your indoor rabbit in its cage, be sure to take it out often (in a safe, protected place) so it can play and interact with family members. The best thing you can do for your rabbit is to get it a companion. Wild rabbits live in groups or colonies. This means they thrive on interaction with other rabbits. If you’re worried that having more than one bunny will be too much work, don’t be! There’s really not much difference between having one rabbit or two, other than allotting a little more space for them to roam and play freely.
Rabbits are Easily Rescued
Pet adoption has grown in popularity in recent years. Countless adoption agencies for dogs and cats are popping up all over the country. But there are plenty of opportunities to rescue and adopt rabbits too! And this is true for rabbits of all size, shape, breed, and gender. There are so many benefits to adopting your next pet. All bunnies will be assessed prior to purchase, which means you can pick the rabbit that best fits your family’s needs and personality. It also means that your bunny will already be neutered and receive its necessary vaccinations. But don’t forget, your rabbit will still need an annual check-up to remain up-to-date on all its shots. And the best part of adoption is that you’re saving lives. You’re giving these bunnies a safe, loving home, and freeing up more space in the shelter for other rabbits in need.
Get Ready for the Dirty Work
One of the more unpleasant facts about rabbits is that they produce a lot of poop. Not only might your pet stink up their cage, and your house, but rabbits are known to eat their own feces. As disgusting as this may sound, it’s an important fact that pet owners should know and actually promotes your bunny’s health. It’s first important to understand why rabbits produce so much poop. A rabbit’s digestive system only works properly if there is food constantly flowing through them. Your rabbit will then have two types of bowel movements – the hard, round balls you’re accustomed to seeing, and another, softer type of poop. The softer form is actually packed with essential nutrients that are vital to your bunny’s health. And that’s why they ingest this form of poop. So, while it may turn your stomach or seem odd, this is actually a very natural and important part of your rabbit’s healthy lifestyle.
Your Rabbit Will Bond With You But May Not Want to be Held
This is often the hardest part about being a rabbit-owner. Depending on your new pet’s temperament, it may not want to be held or cuddled. This is tough for many pet owners to understand. After all, your new bunny is so darn cute! How can you resist scooping it up and snuggling against its soft fur? Don’t worry, you can still pet and interact with your rabbit, just try to come down on their level and avoid carrying them, picking them up, or holding them. Rabbits are most comfortable with all 4 paws firmly on the ground. Sit with them in a safe space and let them use that adorable little nose to sniff around and investigate. Just because you can’t cuddle your rabbit doesn’t mean you won’t develop a very strong bond. In time, your bunny will begin to recognize your voice and might even get excited when you come into the room. If your home is completely rabbit-safe and you allow your pet to roam around, don’t be surprised if they hop everywhere you go. You’ll certainly feel the bunny love!
If you’re considering a rabbit as your next pet, you’re making a very wise decision. With the right knowledge and preparation, you’ll love having a rabbit as a pet and they will love you right back. The only thing better than one bunny is two! Consider adopting two rabbits together to give your new pet an instant companion. And another bonus is that rabbits can live between 9 and 12 years when domesticated. So be ready to enjoy your rabbit friend for many years to come.
About the author:
Kim is a wife, mother, and animal lover. She is the proud mom of 2 beautiful girls and one very fat cat, Boots. Kim enjoys writing, yoga, traveling, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
More by Kim: 5 Signs Your Family is Ready for a Pet
Bunny Care: Things you must know about taking care of your rabbit
Caring for rabbits, sugar gliders and ferrets
Keeping chickens as pets
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