13 things you must know before getting a rabbit as a pet
Rabbits are one of the cutest indoor pets. They are not only very easy to take care of but are also squishy and cuddly. They are wonderful hilarious companion, with a unique personality. Each rabbit is pretty different from each other. According to the Humane Society, rabbits are the third most popular pets in the world. But before you run to the shelter, and grab these cuties, here are a few things you must know before getting a rabbit as a pet.
1. You need to rabbit-proof your house
Just like baby-proofing is necessary for your house, proofing your living area and room before you get a rabbit as a pet is absolutely necessary. Rabbits are curious creatures, and they would chew everything. I am not even exaggerating it! If you leave a document open on your table, don’t be surprised if you just find tiny pieces of it scattered all over your home.
You need to keep your rabbit safe, as well as your belongings. Taping the wires up at a height where they could not reach would be a good idea. Always keep your files and documents in your drawers and plastic coat your tubes.
Make sure you do not have any plants in the room where your rabbits are allowed. They love to chew green things and would mess up your favourite pot of plant. Also, some plants can even harm your rabbit. Rabbits are squishy pets and have a much smaller body under all that fur. You need to be aware and block all the areas where your rabbit can squeeze in and get caught up.
2. Rabbits need a dedicated owner
Healthy rabbits can live up to 12 years. According to a report by PETA, rabbits are the third most abandoned pets in the world. Getting a rabbit as a pet is not as easy as it might sound. They sure are very low maintenance, but they are not short term pets. Rabbits need dedicated owners who are ready to love them as they grow old.
Rabbit as a pet, are not very good starter pets. Each rabbit has a different need and a life expectancy. With rabbits living so long, you can easily bond with your pet at a personal level and can have an equation of your own. Try to adopt a rabbit, than buying one from the pet store.
3. Carrots aren’t good food for your rabbits
We all remember Bugs bunny chewing a piece of rabbit always. Well, it’s time to forget the memory. Carrots are actually not great food for your pet. Providing your pet rabbit with varied types of nutritious and healthy food is very necessary. Sugar is not good for your pet. Rabbits have delicate guts, and too much sugar can just take things out of control. Carrots generally have a tad bit more food sugar than other vegetables and can lead to indigestion.
Rabbits would not like to chew raw vegetables all day. Mixing up your veggies with broccoli, kale, parsley and lettuce would help them maintain their digestion. Baby rabbits have different nutritional needs than adults. They need an unlimited supply of timothy hay and freshwater. Giving them a proper fibrous nutritional diet is absolutely necessary for your rabbit as a pet. You don’t want them to be pooping any more than they already do. And, they poop a lot.
4. Rabbits poop almost all the time
Rabbits have a different digestive system than traditional pets. Your rabbit as a pet will eat all day, and poop all day. Rabbits poop an average of 400 to 500 poop pellets a day. Their stomachs need to be working constantly for them to stay healthy. They need food flowing at all times in their gut.
Luckily, if you have enough time and want to bond with your pet, you can very easily litter train them. Litter training your rabbit is a really good idea, as you don’t have to run behind them every time cleaning up their mess. White training them to poop right, you might actually get time to know the personality of your rabbit as a pet. A young rabbit would do great with a high-back litter pan. But, as they grow old you need to switch to a lower-back one. The size of the litter pan would vary with the size of your rabbit.
If you have more than one rabbit, it would probably be a good idea to have 2 or 3 litter pans. Pooping excessively is a normal daily routine for rabbits. So, if your rabbit stops pooping its actually not a good sign, and you should rush to your vet immediately.
5. Rabbits eat their own poop
No matter how gross it might sound, this is actually true. If you have a rabbit as a pet, you might have noticed a piece missing occasionally. But eating their own poop is really necessary for your pet. Rabbits make two types of droppings – little black round ones, and the softer black one. They eat the softer one.
Rabbits eat their poop, as it still contains vital nutrients, and they just won’t let that go to waste. They digest their food twice. So, while cleaning their cages, you should make sure you just clean the harder poop. If your rabbit is not eating its poop, there might be an underlying condition. You should immediately take your rabbit to a vet, as there can be a serious digestive issue or any other medical concern.
6. You should never bathe your rabbit
Contrary to popular opinion or videos, you should not bathe your rabbit. They like to clean themselves up on their own, and you shouldn’t mess up with their habits. According to Fuzzy Rabbit, bathing them might lead them to a shock or hypothermia. You should only consider bathing your pet rabbit, in cases where it is very dirty, or has soiled himself in the mud.
Your rabbit as a pet does quite a good job in cleaning themselves up. You only need to bathe your rabbit if they are quite sick. In such a case you should fill your tub with an inch of water, and place a towel at the bottom. Gently massaging your rabbit with a gentle shampoo would help them relax. Never fully submerge any part of your rabbit in the water.
7. Rabbits can have pretty long nails
Just like humans, rabbits nails never stop growing. You should trim and file their nails regularly so they won’t hurt you while you are cuddling. You might have seen the edges of your wooden table chewed off. Well, many believe that rabbit as a pet, do this only at a younger age when their teeth are still growing. However, rabbits teeth never really stop growing. Your adult rabbit would also chew off your table. So, to save your furniture it’s necessary you provide them with wooden toys they can play and chew upon.
Your pet rabbit has 18 toe-nails which needs to be manicured once every six weeks. Wild rabbits get their nails worn out naturally by running and digging burrows. However, rabbit as a pet doesn’t have the same activities so you need to trim their nails. Don’t cut their nails too close, as you might cut the vain running into the base of their nails. This might cause pain and a significant amount of blood.
8. Finding a rabbit-savvy veterinarian is a need
Rabbits are one of the exotic species, and not every veterinarian is equipped to treat them. Unlike dogs and cats which can be treated by general practitioners, your rabbit as a pet, needs a special vet who knows them well. Rabbits are delicate species and they need to be handled with care. Their medication is entirely different from dogs or cats.
You need to choose a rabbit-savvy veterinarian for your pet who understands herbivore animals and their digestive systems. Unlike your casual pets, most herbivores digest their food twice and need their gut to be flowing with food always. So, it is necessary that your vet is specialised in exotic small pets. You might also need a vet for periodic trimming of nails for your rabbit as a pet. From their antibiotics to anaesthesia, rabbits react totally different to medication. So be sure to search your local phone book thoroughly and find a few specialised vets before adopting a rabbit as a pet.
9. Rabbits require plenty of space
Rabbits are really small and cuddly pets. But contrary to their size, they need a pretty large space to stretch out and play. Most people restrict their pet rabbits in cages. Putting your rabbit in a cage is not good for their growth. Also, it will make them unsocial and you would have a tough time bonding with them.
Rabbits love to run around freely, eat almost all the time, and user litter boxes. They hate to be caught up in the same place. We are not talking about a large yard for them to play. If you can manage a room, and rabbit-proof it, they would be really happy roaming freely without any restrictions. For bonding with your rabbit, it is necessary you play and interact with them on a regular basis.
Your rabbit as a pet would love if you would sit down with them and play with their toys or watch them running aimlessly. However, if letting your rabbit roam freely isn’t a viable option for you, you can make some changes in their cage so they can play and exercise while staying in their cages.
10. Rabbit love to stay around other rabbits or animals
Rabbits are social creatures and absolutely love company. Rabbit as a pet has a unique way of deciding whether they like the other pet or not. They have a silent communication among themselves which would ultimately decide whether they like each other or not. However, most rabbits love the friendship of other bunnies and would not turn into arch enemies.
According to Vet Street, a rabbit as a pet can have an inseparable bond with dogs and cats. A rabbit who is calm and easygoing would have the best chance of getting along with your dog or cat. However, if your rabbit is fearful you should not let them go close to your other pets, as it might start a fighting scene. So, it ultimately depends on the personality of your rabbit. You should first assess if your rabbit as a pet is comfortable around other rabbits or pets, and then decide whether you should let them bond or not.
11. Neutering your rabbit is essential
For rabbits, neutering is one of the most essential steps to maintain their health as well as sanity. Most people consider adopting same-sex rabbits so they don’t have to neuter them. However, all rabbits need to be neutered, even if you buy a single one or in a pair. It’s not just a choice. At times, it can be an important factor that might affect the life of your rabbit as a pet.
Almost 86% of female rabbits develop uterine cancer, and it can be fatal to them. For males, they can develop testicular cancerous tumours and it can cut their life to as short as 4 years. Neutering also helps them live in pairs or in a group happily. You can get your rabbit as a pet neutered when they are 10 to 12 weeks old. It will not only help prevent life-threatening diseases but would also reduce hormonal behaviours which can be difficult to handle as a pet parent.
12. Taking care of your rabbit as a pet can be expensive
Rabbits are low maintenance pets but they are not cheap. Taking proper care of your pet rabbit can get quite costly. Rabbits live a long life, and there is a high chance that they might get ill. They need a special veterinarian to cater to their needs. The vet bills can at times take a toll on your pocket. Some rabbits can even develop chronic illness and need life long care. Many pet parents get medical insurance for their rabbit as a pet. This might act as a good option if your rabbit is weak and prone to illness.
Rabbits also need a good quality of food that is nutritious for them. The initial setting up of a house or cage for them could also cost you hundreds of dollars. So if you have a tight budget you might want to think twice before adopting a rabbit as a pet, as keeping it happy, healthy, and comfortable might get difficult for you.
13. Every rabbit has a unique personality
Just like humans, every rabbit is unique. They are not like cats or dogs and need time to get comfortable around you. No two rabbits are exactly the same. Some love to play around the house and liked to be held and cuddled, while others just like to play with their toys alone. While some rabbits might run to you when they see you, others might not even notice you.
So when you bring your pet rabbit home it’s up to you to get to know your pet. The more time you would spend around them interacting with them and playing with them, the more comfortable they will get around you. It’s important that you make your rabbit social, so they can easily hang out with your friends at a party.
Rabbits are cute and cuddly pets that people love to spend their time with. They not only bring a smile on your face at the end of a rough day, but they also teach you responsibilities and how the smallest of things can add happiness in your life. There are hundreds of bunnies sitting in adoption shelters waiting for the right pet parent to take them home. Adopt your rabbit as a pet, and don’t shop. Adopting a rabbit is always a great idea, as the shelter people already know their personalities and you can easily choose one that matches yours.
It’s easy to get swept up in excitement to add a rabbit as a pet to your family, but you should first assess your situation. It is necessary for your pet and you both to stay happy and comfortable. Rabbits are low maintenance pets that are good for a family or for people living alone. Before buying a turtle do check our in-depth guide to rabbit care, to make sure your turtle as a pet stays healthy and happy.
Thinking to adopt a pet that is easy to handle and care for? Check out 7 best low maintenance pets you can own in 2020.