We’re nearing the Easter holiday, a time when many families decide to add a floppy-eared, hop-along friend to their home. But, like any pet, owning a bunny means committing to a lifetime of love and care.
One of the most important things to remember is that most domesticated indoor rabbits will live for upwards of 12 years. Like dogs and cats, pet rabbits have their own personalities – which range from playful and silly to independent and curious to loyal and affectionate. The average rabbit owner also says that domesticated bunnies are equally as smart as cats and dogs. They cite the pet’s ability to be litter trained as an obvious benefit. Before you add a pet rabbit to your home, consider whether you have the time, resources and affection that goes along with the responsibility.
Included among the daily care for a pet rabbit is:
• Setting up a large, rabbit-proofed, contained, indoor living space
• Bunny-proofing your house by covering wires and baseboards and blocking off small spaces
• Incorporating a large hay feeder to provide clean, dry sustenance to your pet throughout the day
• Supplementing their diet with the addition of fresh veggies, fiber-rich pellets and clean water
• Adding a shallow litter box lined with rabbit-safe pellet litter and hay near their food area and be sure to clean this regularly
• Encouraging active play, mental stimulation and exercise by providing toys and “carboard castles”
• Regular grooming practices that include brushing and nail clipping
Though there are some similarities between the care for rabbits and that for dogs/cats, bunnies have a unique way of communicating of which many are unfamiliar. This includes binkying. No, not a baby pacifier, but rather a leaping, twisting, kicking motion that shows excitement. Among the other actions that show happiness are licking, honking, purring, buzzing, running and flopping. Some signs of discontentment include growling, screaming, kicking dirt, nudging, digging, nipping and thumping.
As a natural prey animal, a rabbit’s instinct is to hide illnesses, so it’s important to also make mental note of their regular eating, drinking and bathroom habits in order to monitor any changes in behavior. In the event that your bunny is exhibiting abnormal actions, be sure to only bring them to a veterinarian that is skilled in caring for exotic animals.
Central Veterinary Associates has an Exotic Pets Department, which includes a team of highly trained veterinarians with a special interest in caring for rabbits, birds, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, reptiles and more. If you are considering adding a bunny to your brood, be sure to contact your local CVA office today to schedule the important first-check visit, which will get your pet’s health off on the right foot.
NOTE: For those who commit to owning a bunny, remember that, like cats and dogs, there are many currently in shelters, looking for their FURever homes.