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PETA reports that rabbits are the third-most abandoned animals in shelters. Owning rabbits is different than owning other domestic pets, such as a dog and cat. When adopting a rabbit, you need to take into consideration that rabbits require special shelter, extra attention, litter training, and more. A pet rabbit is not a commitment you should take lightly, however, they are a good pet for certain people who prefer a caged animal over a free one. As with any animal, there are many pros and cons of having a rabbit as a pet, so it's important to know all of the necessary information.
Every rabbit is different.
Like most animals, every pet rabbit is going to have its own personality, so if you’re considering a rabbit as a pet, don’t base your decision off meeting one sweet rabbit. You may meet one sweet rabbit, and then find out that the rabbit you’ve chosen to adopt is much different. You’ll want to choose to adopt a rabbit based on that specific rabbit’s personality. Whether this means taking the rabbit for a test weekend or at least spending a few hours with the rabbit before committing, make sure your decision is a good one.
A Rabbit's Diet
Many people think when owning rabbits, the only food they need to sustain them is carrots, but this is far from true. Grass hays should make up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, with varied vegetables being only supplementary. Fresh vegetables like carrots and kale and fruits, such as pineapple and apple can be given to rabbits around twice a week. Rabbits require a balanced diet with the majority being grass to keep their digestion regular.
Rabbits like company.
Did you know that a group of rabbits is called a colony? Rabbit owners should be aware that rabbits are very social beings, and they prefer to be around other rabbits. It may be best to own two rabbits as opposed to one pet rabbit. However, you definitely need to spay and neuter your rabbits if you decide to own more than one. While rabbits like the attention of humans as well, ultimately, rabbits only speak their own language, and they depend on one another for protection from predators in the wild. Pet rabbits will have that same natural instinct, and they will appreciate a companion of their own species.
They need special medical care.
Rabbits have specialized veterinarians that know how to specifically care for their teeth and nails, check for parasites, and give them vaccinations. While some vets are specialized in other domestic animals as well as rabbits, when owning rabbits, you need to take into account that it may be more expensive to provide medical care for your furry friend compared to the typical dog and cat care.
They need exercise.
Rabbits are used to being able to run free in the wild, so it’s natural that even with a large cage, a rabbit is going to need exercise. If you have a big backyard, you may be able to take your pet rabbit into the backyard and watch them as they run free for a while. However, rabbits are also scared of loud noises and may run away easily, so you need to be very careful. Rabbits end up in shelters and rescues all too often because they are hard to take care of. Before adopting a rabbit, understand all of the requirements for their care.
When owning rabbits, it’s important to realize that a rabbit’s life span is usually between 10 and 12 years. This is a significant time period, especially if you’re buying a pet rabbit for a child who may one day be headed off to college. Rabbit owners need to be aware of how long of a commitment a pet rabbit is going to be, because putting old rabbits into shelters and rescues is a terrible thing to do just because you may get tired of owning the rabbit after a certain point.
Rabbits and Kids
Although everyone thinks of a rabbit as being cute and cuddly, rabbits are not necessarily the best pets for young children. Like other pets, pet rabbit breeds vary, and some are better suited for children than others. Kids can be rough without being aware of it, and rabbits get startled easily by loud noises and fast movements. To a rabbit, a young kid will seem like a predator, and the rabbit will want to get away as quickly as possible.
They can do damage.
Housing rabbits can be difficult, because even when you have a large cage, you’re going to want to let your rabbit out occasionally to give it proper exercise. One part of owning rabbits includes rabbit proofing your home, because rabbits like to chew on pretty much anything they can find, whether it be your furniture, your clothing, or the house itself. Also, while rabbits do use litter boxes, when they are out and about, they can tend to pee on things if they are not neutered. Rabbit urine isn’t pleasant, of course, so beware, rabbit owners. When you have a rabbit, just like any pet, they can do some damage.
Spay and Neuter
As mentioned before, when it comes to owning multiple rabbits, spaying and neutering your rabbits is important because you can go from one or two rabbits to six rather quickly! Even if you decide to only own one rabbit, you should still get them spayed or neutered from the start just to be safe. You never know when they might escape and start creating baby rabbits all over your neighborhood! You don’t want that on your conscience, so do damage control ahead of time as a preventative measure.
Nails and Teeth
You'd think that rabbits don't need much grooming and physical maintenance, but their nails and teeth never stop growing. Without constant maintenance, this can lead to serious health problems. As long as you are aware of this, you shouldn’t run into any issues, but it is definitely an important fact to know.
Rabbits can be good pets in many ways, however, they aren’t your typical cat or dog. Be sure to take into account all of the aspects that come with owning rabbits before adopting one, and good luck in your pet search!