Are you thinking of bringing a rabbit into your home? Many people aren’t aware that caring for a rabbit requires a significant commitment of time and effort. And far too often, rabbits end up at a shelter, or worse, sent into the wild, because “the children lost interest.”
Rabbits live 10-15 years. They are very social creatures and become withdrawn, ill, or aggressive when left alone in a cage. You and your family must be willing to provide the time, money, and energy to care for a rabbit for the duration of its life. Unfortunately, statistics show that most children lose interest after the first year or two. Also, many people surrender their rabbits to shelters because they do not know that simple behavior modifications will usually mitigate “unwanted” behaviors, such as chewing or biting.
It is a sad fact that shelters are overwhelmed with unwanted animals, and your rabbit will probably end up being euthanized if you bring it there.
Here are some additional things to know about rabbits before bringing one home:
- As a prey animal, most rabbits do not like to be picked up or to be cuddled. They generally prefer to relax with you by lying on the floor near you.
- Rabbits do not need vaccinations, but they should have regular visits to rabbit savvy veterinarians. Your rabbit must be spayed or neutered. You will need to “know” your pet’s habits well, as signs of illness are often subtle.
- Rabbits need 6-8 hours of daily exercise time outside of their cages. Be sure that your lifestyle allows for this.
- Rabbits need quality hay, vegetables, and pellets.
- Rabbits (or their hay) can aggravate a family member’s allergies. If someone in the household suffers from allergies, you should consult an allergist before bringing a rabbit into the home.
- Rabbits need daily care. If you will be away from home, you will need to arrange for someone to care for your rabbit in your absence.
- Rabbits naturally enjoy chewing and digging activities. You will need to have a large “rabbit-proofed” area where he or she can play with safe toys.
Many people have discovered how much fun it is to have a rabbit as part of the family. If you think a rabbit might be for you, contact us for a free HRC Rabbit Care Guide, or speak with a HopLine volunteer at (413) 525-9222, who will be glad to answer your questions and offer insight into living with these interesting little creatures.