Six Facts About Rabbits
"Rabbits are very social animals and bond well with their owners," states Candy Lash, Director of Community and Media Relations for the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society in western Massachusetts. I interviewed her to get some facts about rabbits for the many parents who are thinking of buying an Easter bunny this year. If you are planning to get a rabbit for any reason (Easter or otherwise), it is best to have the facts about rabbits.
1. Rabbits Have a Higher Quality of Life as Indoor Pets
"We recommend you keep your rabbits indoors. They will have a higher quality of life and will live longer," according to Lash, who reports that rabbits kept indoors will live for 10 to 15 years. Rabbits kept outside in a hutch are subject to predators and stresses from the weather. "When the rabbits are kept indoors, they have a quality of life that is more enriching," Lash comments.
One suggestion Lash had was to find an area in your home where you can have a penned-off (referred to as an "X-pen") area, so the rabbit can move around more freely and get more exercise. Installing tile in that area will prevent damage to hardwood floors or carpets. Lash mentions that it is important to allow the rabbit out of its cage at least a couple of times a day. "That way they can hop and play and do all the things bunnies like to do," she says.
2. Rabbits Can Be Litter Trained
Lash discloses that rabbits are very smart animals and are not hard to train to a litter box, although they may take a little longer than training a cat. It is best to observe the rabbit in its pen or cage to see where the rabbit is inclined to potty. "For example, we had a litter box for one of our rabbits here (at the shelter) in the rear of the cage. However, the rabbit tended to do its business near the front of the cage, so we moved it and the rabbit took right to it." Lash also recommended using hay as the litter box material, changed daily. "You can also put down newspapers."
3. Rabbits Chew on Many Things
A basic fact about rabbits is that their teeth grow continuously. Which means, the instinctual way rabbits deal with tooth growth is to chew – a lot. Be aware of any wires in rooms where you allow your rabbit and know they are likely to chew on furniture and other items lying about. Always keep wooden toys in your rabbits' pen so they have a safer and less damaging outlet for their need to chew.
4. Rabbits Love to Eat Hay and Raisins
Lash tells us that hay is a very important component in a rabbit's diet. Rabbits can be fed formulated prepared pellets, as well. "Rabbits also like to have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. And they love raisins. Raisins are one of the best things you can use if you are working on training your rabbit."
5. Rabbits Are More Aggressive When They're Not Spayed and Neutered
"Spaying and neutering helps rabbits behavior tremendously. It makes all the difference in the world." explains Lash, adding that when rabbits are unaltered, they can be much more aggressive. "They will stomp, bite, and scratch more (if unaltered)." Spaying and neutering your rabbit will also help protect against some forms of cancer.
6. Rabbits Need Careful Handling
If slowly introduced, rabbits can get along well with other pets. Rabbits love to be handled and grow to enjoy the experience more and more over time. However, rabbits do not like to be picked up, and must be handled carefully or you can break their backs if they start to kick. "They like to have all four on the floor, but they are also happy sitting on your lap or even on the couch with you while you watch TV," instructs Lash. Rabbits need to have all four feet supported when picking them up.
Lash recommends that if you have children, to wait until they are at least 8 years old before adopting a rabbit as a pet, since an older child will more easily understand proper handling of the rabbit. You can also take your rabbit outside using a harness. Just be aware that rabbits are prey animals. Walk them in safe areas where no other animals might be tempted to attack.
Cris Carl writes for Networx.com.
Updated April 12, 2018.
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