Rabbits as house pets?
Rabbits make wonderful pets!
In 2004 a friend contacted my husband and I, asking if we had room for a rabbit. A RABBIT. We had never had a rabbit as a pet before. On top of that we have two cats, Oliver and Magic, who we had had by that time going on 7 years. The boys are closely bonded and I didn't know how they would react to other animals, especially a rabbit. A strange, furry thing with long ears and huge back legs, jumping around the house....I just didn't know. My friend persisted though as she knows we are huge animal lovers, and when we found out his eventual fate (he was heading for a laboratory), we quickly said yes. The next day, not knowing really what we were getting into, we headed out to the nearest bookstore to research the subject.
Just reading about these animals got me hooked. I had to know if these books were true. Loving animals with tons of personality? Potty trained? Playing fetch? No, no - this didn't sound right. Still we packed up the car and went to meet our new family member. Oscar was a huge lump of a rabbit - a French Lop, to be exact, all 16 pounds of him. To hold him at his full length was like holding a toddler to your chest. It took a few days for him to get used to him but once he did - and I don't say this lightly - that "personality" came pouring out at 100 miles an hour.
He did like to play fetch. He chewed all our toilet roll and paper towel holders. He was grumpy. He would grunt if you took his food away. He would run all over the house and "binky" (this is what they do when they are happy, a sort of jump in the air out of nowhere). He would hop towards the cats and Ollie would hiss, confused. Then they would all sit in a circle and wash themselves. It turns out I had nothing to worry about; the boys adjusted great. I would throw his wooden carrot at him and he would throw it back at me. He would jump on my lap and nudge my hand, asking to be petted. All the myths about rabbits I had ever thought of just melted away. I had always thought they just sat in a hutch and stared out at the world, indifferent.
Now I know that that is what rabbits DO do, IF they are left outside to be bored out of their mind. To leave a rabbit in a hutch to fend for itself is cruel, and here is why - rabbits are social animals and want to be with the family. A rabbit staring out of a hutch by itself isn't indifferent, it's lonely, and that is just plain mean. For one thing, rabbits are not hardy animals. The mere sight of a predator can get a rabbit so worked up that they can die of a heart attack or shock. Keeping them inside in safety is the only way to go. Rabbits also can be trained to go to the bathroom in a litter box, so we can just kick that argument out of the window. They are smart, clean animals and given the chance, they want to go to the bathroom somewhere clean and private. Oscar started going on the plastic mat in front of our cat's litterbox before we had even trained him to do it. He could obviously smell the scent and knew he should go somewhere in that vicinity. Once living inside, rabbits begin to blossom and their true personality comes shining through - and what a wonderful feeling that is. The unconditional love of these animals knows no bounds.
Oscar unfortunately passed away before we moved back to the States. It has left a hole in my heart that cannot be filled. We are waiting to get more rabbits because we are in an apartment and need room for these little guys (and of course, we want 2). There are certain things to look out for. Rabbits must be held a certain way, lest they break their backs, and also you will need to bunny proof your home so they don't chew through wires and other things that you hold near and dear. They can't get too hot, so the house can't be too hot and if outside in the hot weather they should definitely be supervised. I would say definitely get a book and research what needs to be done to have a bun as a pet. All in all, my whole point of this blog is that rabbits make wonderful pets. Are you or your child allergic to dogs or cats? A bun is a wonderful alternative. Words cannot express how truly wonderful these creatures are. My husband and my two boys (the cats, of course) and I miss Oscar so much. In the six short months we had him we learned so much about how rabbits really are - fun, playful, loving, mischievious, and most of all, smart. So do the research, do the math, and in the end, give a bun (or two) a loving home - you won't regret it.
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