Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter - a little early

I thought about making a post for "Make mine Chocolate" on Easter, but then I thought "wouldn't that be too late?"
a baby bunny at the shelter

I really doubt anyone reading this blog would irresponsibly bring a rabbit home, but as someone who previously owned rabbits, I thought I'd share my experiences.

I have owned two rabbits and fostered a mom and her babies once. This by no means makes me an expert - I fully admit that. Tobin lived for 11 years, Bri for only a few (I believe her best friend Skippy has recurring bordatella and infected her)

Rabbits are not easy.They look easy, they read as easy. You feed hay, veggies and some pellets. You change out the litter.. sounds easy right?

But there are a lot of other things, like they chew. They chew a LOT. I have baseboards that are gnawed, I have books that are missing part of their covers, photos that have pieces missing, letters that have holes in them, and photo albums that are going in the recycling because she chewed the covers. All wires are fair game to a rabbit. All wood. Anything that will fit into their mouth is basically a chew toy - well with the exception of the items you often give them to chew. Rabbit teeth never stop growing, so they need to keep them active to wear them down. You also should check their teeth regularly to make sure they are growing straight and are not overgrown. This is NOT easy, as a rabbit is not a fan of your fingers near your mouth. Often you will get nipped.

Same with rabbit claws. Rabbits in the wild dig burrows, and the claws are very handy for that. In a home, there is little use for them. So they need to be trimmed often. Being a prey animal, they are not fans of being held in one place with out an escape, so nail trims are NOT easy. They also have long quicks, and bleed excessively when you hit one.Nail trims can be done by owners, but you need to be careful.

Because rabbits do NOT like to be restrictively held. They will kick with their strong back feet, which can be painful if you get hit. Not only that but they are so powerful that if you do not hold them properly, they can actually break their own backs.
Kit handing with foster bunnies

Rabbits and other animals can co-exist. My cats loved my rabbits (well some of my cats were a little scared of my rabbits) and enjoyed hanging out with both Tobin and Bri. I know of someone who had free roaming rabbits and dogs. They got along wonderfully for years until one day it appeared the play got a little rough, and they came home to ... well, it wasn't pretty. I also had a friend who had a free roaming (in the home) rabbit. She was well socialized, but there were issues with power cords and bunny poops.

Rabbits need to have a mobile gut. They need to have constant access to food and thus they have constant output. Fortunately, rabbit poops are small and round and hard and can be swept right up. A rabbit with gut issues is a very sick rabbit so if you find soft pellets, it needs to go to a vet. One thing though, rabbits make cecum, which comes out of the gut, but it is soft. Rabbits eat this to boost their nutritional input. Cecum is soft, but if you are seeing it, your bunny needs to go to the vet.

URI is deadly to rabbits.  Bri did not eat all of her dinner and was not excited to eat her breakfast.  I took her to the vet that day, noticed a little discharge by her nose, and she was dead within hours.  Bunnies are incredibly fragile in regards to health, and ANY sign that a rabbit is not 'right' means a trip to the vet.  Not eating, not pooping, lethargy sneezing, eye discharge, etc.  In larger animals, you can wait it out and see what happens, not so with rabbits.

Bunnies all have different personalities, like kitties, but as prey animals, they are a little harder to get to know.  My first rabbit Tobin hated carrots. He used them as hockey pucks and pushed them around his pen until I would throw them out.  Bri loved them, but she loved the greens more (Thumper's mom would be proud)  Bri used to "yell" at me if I was late getting her breakfast.  Tobin was very sensitive to getting too many pellets and fecal matter would collect on his behind. Their idea of giving love is not like those of cats and dogs, so you have to be accepting of their version of their joy to be with you.  Bunny binkys (running around and doing a kick so their body flips a little)

Rabbits also molt twice a year.  They blow their coat. and look pretty silly while it happens.  If you happen to be sensitive to rabbit fur (which is easy when it is everywhere, up your nose, in your eyes) it is not much fun.

Rabbit skin is also very thin.  Watching a few rabbit spays and talking to the vet who did them, I learned that they are very delicate, and it is more difficult to spay them than other animals.  Rabbits who are intact have to deal with raging hormones and are generally less acceptable pets.  Males become aggressive,   females get protective, and they both can become cage aggressive.

They are adorable and fun, and it is rare that I would say that someone should not get one, but you should know what you are getting into.  Not to mention in a few weeks there is going to be a TON of them on Craigslist, petfinder and at your local shelters.

There is a cute interactive bunny at Make mine Chocolate  to see if bunnies are right for you.

Muffin and Eli meeting Tobin
Bri and Skippy
Bri with attitude
Bird toy hanging behind Bri would allow her to make noise to call attention to her


  1. This was a great post! My human had no idea how much went into caring for rabbits (so it is probably a good thing we have never had one).

  2. Great post. We posted about Make Mine Chocolate as well. Mom has NO bunny experience and freely admits it...she has been thumped a couple of times and now leaves it to the experts.

  3. Well said! I posted about not just whimming out and buying a bunny rabbit for Easter, but you really bring it home. This definitely need to get shared because we all know there are some people who will do it anyway. On the lighter side - Happy Easter!

  4. Incredibly informative post. I never knew so much about bunnies.

    Hope you stopped at least one person from buying a baby bunny because they are "just so cute".


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