Friday, January 1, 2016

Things to Know Before Adopting a Rabbit

Cute, soft, and popular; rabbits make great pets for some people, but there are some important things to know before adopting one. Learning a bit about them first will help a potential owner know if a bunny (another name for a rabbit) would be a suitable pet to adopt.

Unlike somepets, rabbits, are pretty much legal to keep everywhere, however, if a person rents their home they may need landlord permission. A potential adopter who is going to a shelter to adopt a rabbit should bring a copy of their lease agreement to indicate that they are allowed pets, otherwise the shelter will need to contact their landlord just to be sure.

Two rabbits getting to know each other.
The next consideration is their space requirement, some of the smaller breeds of rabbits are fine in a cage that provides at least 2 square feet of space, but the larger breeds will need at least twice that. No breed of rabbit should be housed in minimal space if the owner is not going to have sufficient time to allow it out of the cage every day. Two other housing options exist, one being to allow the bunny to roam loose in the home, the other is to confine it to an outdoor hutch.

There are some things to know before allowing a bunny to be loose in the home. Firstly, because they are natural chewers, they may nibble cords, so any electrical wires must be put out of reach or run through a piece of PVC pipe. Secondly, unless litter trained, they will leave messes throughout the home. Finally, if you have other house pets this may be a concern, while adult rabbits are usually safe with cats, some breeds of dogs have high prey instinct and a loose rabbit might not be so safe. It is important to note that all rabbits need time out of their cage and should be allowed access to at part of the house for at least an hour every day. 

If a rabbit is to be housed outdoors in a hutch there are some other considerations. The most important thing is that the owner be aware of the condition known as “FlyStrike”, whereby flies lay eggs on rabbits dirty bottoms and the maggots will eat the bunny alive. This means any rabbit kept outdoors must be kept in very clean conditions. Another consideration is climate, with larger bunnies being more tolerant of the cold than smaller ones. Additionally the hutch must be safe and secure against predator types in ones area.

One advantage of rabbits over cats and dogs, is that they are vegetarians, being a lot cheaper to feed than cats and dogs are. Also rabbits may be allowed by some landlords where cats and dogs are not. You should know that a well socialized rabbit is unlikely to bite or show signs of aggression
Rabbits have very few health problems when compared to cats and dogs, their teeth being a main concern. They must be given proper things to chew on so their teeth do not over grow. Like cats and dogs they may be spayed or neutered, as some male rabbits will spray. As mentioned earlier rabbits can be litter trained. Their lifespan is similar to that of a large dog, being about 8-12 years. A person not willing for this length of a commitment may decide to adopt an older rabbit rather than a young one.

A disadvantage may be that rabbits do not interact with their owner to the level that cats and dogs do, making it more difficult for some people to bond with them. Another disadvantage is that it may be slightly harder to find good veterinary care for an ailing rabbit. 

Before adopting a rabbit it is important to know that there are many breeds to choose from. They range from the tiny, Mini Rexes, to the larger meat breeds, such as the Flemish Giant. There are short haired rabbits, and long haired ones, such as the Angora and Fuzzy Lop, that require regular grooming or they will develop painful hair mats. Rexes are noted for their softness, and in addition to the Lop breeds, are one of the most popular as pets.  Do not just adopt a bunny because it is super cute, select the right one for you!

More important than breed, is how a rabbit was handled prior to being adopted. Rabbits who came from commercial breeders (those sold in pet stores) are seldom handled prior to arriving at the store and are less likely to be friendly than one adopted from a shelter or acquired from a private home/breeder. A person should know that rabbits generally dislike being picked up or put down, but should be able to be held without too much squirming and fuss.