Who doesn’t love bunnies? Their floppy ears, twitching noses and soft fur make them almost irresistible. Every spring as Easter approaches, many people consider adding a pet rabbit to their family. Sadly, many people take on this responsibility on a whim without understanding what is involved, and a large number of these hastily adopted pets find themselves surrendered to shelters only a short time later.
If you are considering adopting a rabbit, you should take the time to learn about the care that a rabbit requires. Doing your research will help you to decide if you are ready to take on the commitment of rabbit ownership of if you should stick to the chocolate variety of Easter bunnies.
Rabbits are not cheap. Initial costs may include adoption fees and expenses involved with purchasing a pen, a litterbox and bunny-proofing supplies. These can easily reach at least $300. After that, regular expenses such as hay (the staple of a rabbit’s diet), greens and veggies, and litter may be as much as $70 or $80 each month. You also need to be prepared for incidental expenses like vet bills or furniture repair.
Rabbits are not low-maintenance. Unlike pets such as goldfish or hamsters, which can, and should, spend at least the majority of their time in small cages or bowls, rabbits are social animals. Not only do they need regular playtime and social interaction, but they also require daily exercise and enrichment activities to keep them healthy and to prevent them from becoming bored.
Rabbits also have the potential to be destructive. They have an incessant need to chew and will gnaw on almost anything that is left in their reach. This may include furniture, carpeting, molding, wires, papers, or even remote-control buttons!
Rabbits are not like cats. Sure they can be litter box trained and they have amazingly soft fur, but the similarities between rabbits and cats end there. Unlike many cats who love being carried around or lying in the laps of their owners, rabbits are usually far more comfortable on the ground. Although they can be affectionate, most rabbits do not enjoy being held, and a rabbit attempting to escape from the arms of well-meaning owners or their children can lead to cuts and scrapes for the owners and broken bones or other serious injury for the rabbit.
Rabbits are not outdoor pets. They need to live indoors where they can interact with their families – not stowed away in a rabbit hutch in the back yard where extremes in temperature, wind, or rain will cause them stress.
Rabbits are not a short-term commitment. Rabbits can live for 7 – 10 years. They will still be a part of the family long after the initial novelty has worn off, and parents who adopt a rabbit for older children may find themselves still caring for the pet after the kids have grown up and moved away.
Rabbits can make wonderful pets, but rabbit ownership is not for everyone, especially those with young children. If you do decide to adopt, please consider getting a rabbit from a shelter or rescue organization rather than from a pet store or breeder. On the other hand, if you’re not ready to take on the responsibilities involved with bringing a bunny home, there’s always a chocolate bunny – they’re sweet and low maintenance!