Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley
This time of year thoughts often turn to the idea of fuzzy bunnies. Pet shops begin to promote rabbits as gifts for the holidays. But there is a down side to this idyllic picture of cuddly bunnies and laughing children playing together.
Organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have long opposed pet stores that sell live animals, including puppies, kittens and rabbits. Simply put, too many of these animals end up in shelters. Behind dog and cats, rabbits are the third most frequently surrendered animals in shelters. Approximately, 35,000 rabbits are turned over to shelters ever year. And rabbits pose particular challenges to shelters that often are unable to meet their specific housing and dietary needs.
That is also a consideration for potential pet owners. Long gone are the days of sticking a rabbit in a pen in the back yard or garage. Rabbits are creatures with individual personalities and specific needs. They need proper care both physically and socially. Today, rabbits are considered house pets. They live inside the home and are litter boxed trained just like cats. While often kept in some type of large indoor enclosure, rabbits need supervised time outside of their pens every day. Rabbits are social animals and must spend time in the company of their human owners in order to be healthy and happy.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits, although small in size, are not a great choice of pet for children. Rabbits are nervous and timid creatures. The noise and activity of children is often stressful for them. They are also ground-dwelling creatures, which means that while they like to be petted, they don’t like to be held. Anybody who has ever held and been kicked by the powerful legs of a rabbit can attest to this!
The proper care of rabbits also has a significant financial commitment. Like other pets rabbits need to be spayed and neutered. Those that aren’t often spay urine to mark their territory. And do I need to say more about the endless troublesome possibilities of keeping unsterilized rabbits together… The cost of creating a proper environment and meeting their dietary needs can also add up. In addition to sterilization, routine veterinarian care, and housing, rabbits need timothy hay and fresh vegetables on a daily basis.
And if you think your puppy is a destructive chewer, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the damage an unsupervised rabbit can do to walls, furniture, electrical and phone lines. That being said, rabbits need plenty of appropriate chew toys.
Here are a couple of other little known facts about rabbits. Rabbits are crepuscular animals, which means that they sleep during the day and night and are most active at dusk and dawn. I don’t know about you but those are not times of the days when I have a lot of free time. In addition, rabbits live on average of 10 years, which means that potential owners must be prepared to make a long term commitment.
None of this is meant to deter those that are seriously considering adopting a rabbit. The information is intended to ward of impulse buying of baby bunnies. An excellent source of information about rabbits is the House Rabbit Society (rabbit.org). They also help to promote rabbits that are up for adoption. So as with all new pets, it is vitally important that owners do their research first, before adopting or purchasing any pet. Preparation can make the all difference in creating a fun and fulfilling experience for your family and your pet.