Posted by: soniahs | January 27, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit is upon us (or coming up, by the lunar calendar). Since I blog a lot about Noe, our pet rabbit, I thought I should put in a word or two about buying a rabbit.

Apparently, many people buy rabbits around Easter time, and during the Year of the Rabbit. Is this a good idea? Well, would you buy a dragon because it’s the Year of the Dragon? I think not! You might want to think really hard about that rabbit purchase, too! There will most likely be less fire-breathing with a bunny than with a dragon, but probably more peeing on the carpet, gnawing on furniture and electrical cords, and general shedding.

More seriously, several weeks after Easter (and a few weeks into the Year of the Rabbit), animal rescue organizations tend to see a huge upswing in the number of abandoned rabbits. Here are some things to think about from the House Rabbit Society, a great place to go for rabbit information:

  • Housing: Bunnies need a roomy indoor cage that is approximately four times the size of the adult rabbit. The cage should not have a wire bottom, as the wire can cause sores on the rabbit’s feet. There should be room for a litterbox, toys, food and water bowls.
  • Playtime: Rabbits need plenty of exercise and should be allowed at least 30 hours out-of-cage running time in a rabbit-proofed area of the home per week.
  • Outdoors: Rabbits should never be left outdoors unsupervised. They can literally be frightened to death when approached by predators such as dogs, cats, raccoons and owls. They can also dig under fences to escape.
  • Litter Box: Rabbits, once spayed or neutered, will readily use litterboxes that are place in one corner of the rabbit’s cage; the rabbit’s running space should contain at least one additional box. (Noe has 4!) Use dust-free litter–not the clumping kind, and no softwood shavings.
  • Diet: Bunnies need fresh water, unlimited fresh hay, 1-2 cups of fresh vegetables, and a small serving (1/4 c per 5 lb. rabbit) of plain rabbit pellets each day.
  • Health: Like dogs and cats, rabbits should be spayed or neutered. The risk of uterine cancer in unspayed female rabbits is alarmingly high, and unneutered males are likely to spray. (Rabbit urine smells vile! Their poop is relatively benign, though.)
  • Grooming: Rabbits shed their coat 3-4 times per year; use a flea comb and brush away excess fur.

A person who chooses a baby rabbit as a pet must:

  • Have lots of time, a household that can withstand some chewing, and a stable residence. They will never stop chewing on your belongings (unlike a puppy).
  • Expect an unneutered/unspayed baby will spray urine on the walls (or on your bed). Know that neutering/spaying (at four to six months) will stop the problem.
  • Expect accidents when baby forgets the location of the litterbox.
  • Allow the energetic young rabbit at least 30 hours a week of free time outside her cage.
  • Know the cute baby will soon be an adult rabbit and may have a different personality.

Rabbits can be great pets, with interesting and interactive personalities. However, they’re also a lot of work. They are ‘exotic’ pets, so vet bills can be exotic as well. Keep in mind that rabbits can live up to 12 years (8-10 is common; Noe is 8-1/2). Getting a rabbit is like getting a dog or cat, not like getting a gerbil or goldfish. They’re a lot of work, but can also be a lot of fun.

Now, if you will excuse me, Noe is demanding a veggie and I must comply…

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  1. […] I’ve mentioned in my 2011 Year of the Rabbit post, rabbits are one of the rare animals who are both heavily associated with certain cultural […]


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