So you are ready to introduce another family member into your family. You have scoured the internet, looking at hundreds of photos looking for the perfect rabbit. You find yourself on PopeRabbitry.com and have now found the perfect match for your family. What should I know before making the decision to bring our new bunny home?
First and foremost, make sure you and your family are aware of what commitments are needed to bring a rabbit into your family. Domesticated rabbits live an average of 8-11 years, the same time frame of a large dog. In addition to the life expectancy commitment, you also have housing, supply and upkeep to keep in mind. A rabbit is not a set-and-forget type of animal.
- HOUSING -
Rabbits need adequate, safe housing available to them for when they are not under your direct supervision. Rabbits require a cage that is a minimum of 6'x2'x2' so they can maintain their health by having room to move around. In addition to the rabbit cage, they will also require food/water dishes, chew toys, a litter box (if litter box training) and any other items that can add to the comfort of your new rabbits home.
We recommend that your rabbit gets a few hours out of the cage a day. Not only will this help with bonding with you, but it also stimulates the rabbit and can improve their general overall health. Rabbits require some "rabbit-proofing" before you allow your little furry friend to hop around though. Rabbits will chew on anything they can get their long teeth on. This includes your furniture, houseplants and the deadly mistake of power cords. It is up to you to maintain a safe environment for your rabbit and to protect your belongings.
- CHILDREN -
While you may want to adopt a bunny to teach your kids responsibility of taking care of a living creature, you should always have the understanding that as a parent, you are going to be the primary caretaker. Owning a rabbit is not the same as owning pets such as fish. You cannot simply give it water and food once a day, and then ignore it the remainder of the day. A rabbit requires daily, personal attention which includes handling the rabbit on a daily basis. Young kids simply do not have the dexterity to handle a struggling rabbit safely and securely. Now this isn't to say that they cannot learn, but this is where you, as a parent, must teach them how fragile a rabbit can really be. Rabbits are known for their VERY STRONG rear legs, but did you know they have weak backbones?
That's right! Rabbits are so strong, that if they are not supported correctly, they can break their own backs and kill themselves from struggling. That's why it's important to teach your kids that rabbits are best handled when you support their rear ends tucked into your arms, and rest their bodies against your chest to secure them. You can calm a rabbit down by holding it securely, hiding its eyes, rubbing its ears and talking softly to it.
For the family that may be thinking about adopting a rabbit for their young child, especially those that may decide a rabbit is right for them as a holiday gift, please ensure that you keep the child engaged in that rabbits life. It's easy to keep a child interested in a new animal in the household, but over time, that child may lose interest and then the rabbit becomes ignored and unwanted. This in turn, leads to the parents disappointed and resentful for bringing the rabbit into the house. This becomes a toxic environment, and it is the rabbit who will ultimately suffer the consequences. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure that all members of the family are safe, happy, healthy and feel welcomed, cared and loved for.
Watch this video for Rabbit Care Training for Kids.
- INTRODUCING OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS -
As with any animal when introducing it into your home, we recommend a minimum of 10 days of strict, no contact quarantine for any other animals in your household. This protects not only your new rabbit, but also the other animals of the house. Not only will this 10-day process protect your animals from any health risks involved, but it also gives a nice, slow introduction into the other animals in the house.
Rabbits are considered prey for many different types of animals, some of those that may even be in your household. If you have a ferret in your house, they should never be introduced, and should always remain in different rooms. Ferrets are ferocious hunters of rabbits, and will find a way to kill its prey.
Dogs are another animal that should never be left alone with your new rabbit. No matter how much you trust your dog, even the most friendly and trustworthy dog can have their predatory instincts awaked when introduced to a rabbit. Rabbits have been known to die of a heart attack from the fear and anxiety of becoming prey to a predatory animal.
Some animals that can get along with rabbits well, are cats, guinea pigs and birds. As with all introductions, still take it slow to make sure all animals are going to be compatible. If your rabbit is showing signs of distress, you should promptly remove them from the situation that is stressing them out. Rabbits, much like people, have very distinct personalities and it is up to you to be able to read their behaviors to find the best possible scenario for them to integrate into your house.
- ALLERGIES -
It is possible that you, or others in your household may have an allergy to rabbits in your household. This may not be contained to simply their fur, but you must also take into account and hay allergies that your family may have (Alfalfa or Timothy hay) If you are unsure if you, or others, may have an allergy to rabbits, it would be in your best interest to visit a local rabbitry or animals shelter to see whether allergies may be triggered. Rabbits do shed, require brushing and constant handling, so it is best to ensure that your family is protected from any allergic reactions.
After reading that, if you still feel like you are prepared to adopt a rabbit, and introduce a wonderful addition to your family, we look forward to pairing you with the little bunny that works best for your household. Know what when you adopt from Pope Rabbitry, you are getting a rabbit that has already been pre-socialized, as we handle all of our rabbits on a daily basis, multiple times a day. Visit our Rabbits for Sale page to pick out your favorite rabbit, or test your knowledge and take our quiz "Are You Ready For A Rabbit"