With February being dubbed “Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month” shelters and rescues around the world are working to educate the public about keeping rabbits as house pets. In the Portland, Oregon area, the Rabbit Advocates group has done a great job of having an excellent article published in The Oregonian. Authored by Monique Balas, it explains the pros and cons of house rabbits for people who are thinking about adding one to their family. Here are highlights…
- Rabbits are very social and bond deeply to people and other animals.
- Because they are so social, rabbits should be kept indoors, not locked in a cage (just make sure to bunny-proof your home). Keeping them outside puts them at risk for contracting illness from extreme heat and cold temperatures or soil-borne parasites, and outdoor predators can actually frighten them to death.
- Bunnies are very smart – they can be clicker-trained, learn agility and respond to their name and other verbal cues.
- Rabbits easily can be house-trained to use a litter box.
- They need to chew because their teeth grow continuously.
- Adult rabbits should eat unlimited amounts of good-quality hay and very limited amounts of high-quality pellets. Orchard grass can be used as alternatives for bunnies or people who are allergic to timothy hay.
- Baby bunnies (eight months or younger) should eat alfalfa hay and pellets.
- Contrary to “Bugs Bunny,” rabbits should not eat carrots, which are too sugary. Iceberg lettuce, nuts, fruit, raisins, crackers or carbs are also no-nos. Green veggies also should be limited, since they can cause gas.
- They need to be groomed and have their nails trimmed regularly.
- Spaying or neutering will make rabbits less likely to exhibit unpleasant or aggressive behaviors, help them live longer and prevent unwanted litters and homeless rabbits.
- Rabbits are not ideal pets for children. If you have kids, keep in mind that you should be the primary caretakers.
- They require special veterinarians who are familiar with their complex digestive systems and anesthesia requirements.
- Bunnies have distinct personalities and are very expressive. When they’re content, they make a “chitter” sound, similar to a cat purring, and perform leaps of joy known as “binkies.”
- Rabbits are at least an eight- to 12-year commitment, not a temporary pet for Easter. The worst thing you can do to a domesticated rabbit is to set it loose in the wild. It won’t last long before becoming someone’s meal.
To read the complete article online, please go to http://www.oregonlive.com/pets/index.ssf/2014/02/february_is_a_great_time_to_ad.html
With Easter on the horizon, we hope that rabbit advocates will be doing their bit to help educate the public in their area about rabbits as pets, and not as disposable Easter gifts.