By Johna Mennone
LV-HRS Educator and Volunteer
Known for being irresistibly cute, rabbits have become the 3rd most popular pet in the United States. Although these charming and personable animals can be very tempting, their unique needs and behaviors aren’t suited for every home. So before rushing into that 10-year plus commitment, here are some things to take into consideration.
Though many believe a rabbit can live outside in a hutch or tucked away in a small cage, bunnies need space and a safe indoor environment to be at their happiest and healthiest. These sociable and highly communicative animals thrive on interaction, and should be kept in the house as part of the family.
Perhaps of even greater importance are the dangers of the outdoors. From hawks, to heat, flies to fear, all pose risks to the health and life of a bunny. Indoor housing is such a crucial aspect to a rabbits proper care, that reputable rescues will not adopt to those planning outdoor accommodations.
Countless rabbits are surrendered to shelters each year after the owner has discovered they are allergic to their bunny, or the food and bedding their bunny requires. If you have allergies to animals, or sensitivities to hay and grasses, you might want to take note. Consider testing your reaction by visiting the rabbits at your local shelter. It could save your nose and bunny from a lot of upset later on.
Providing for your bunny’s medical needs is an important aspect of their care, though finding a qualified veterinarian may prove difficult. Rabbits require an “exotics” vet, which are far less common and often more expensive. Given that bunnies have unique health concerns, which often need prompt attention, having a qualified vet within a reasonable distance is key. Before making the commitment, search for rabbit savvy veterinarians in your area, and ask yourself how far you are willing to travel and how much you’re able to afford.
Bunnies can make playful and affectionate pets, but it’s important to remember they are prey animals, sensitive to their surroundings. Given that they are quick to react to loud noises and sudden movement, they are more suitable to calm, quieter homes.
Children and additional pets are also a concern and great care has to be taken to keep your rabbit safe, both physically and mentally. A stressed rabbit is an unhappy and unhealthy rabbit. It’s important to keep in mind that even the most well behaved pet or child might chase a bun that runs, and even the most affectionate child can injure a bun unintentionally. So consider the environment you’d be introducing a bunny to and make their safety your priority.
Rabbits are the third most abandoned pet, filling shelters across the country. Sadly, most are surrendered because the owner wasn’t prepared for the level of care a rabbit requires. By doing your research beforehand, you can learn if a bunny is a good fit for you prior to making the commitment.
The Las Vegas House Rabbit Society is a non profit, all volunteer rabbit rescue organization supporting the community through education, spay/neuter programs and adoptions. To learn more about the LV-HRS, please visit www.lv-hrs.org.