Pet rabbits are many things: soft and sweet, gentle and disarming. But they can also be destructive and demanding, so understand what pet rabbits are all about before you bring one home. Be aware that with rabbit ownership comes the following responsibilities:
1. Daily pet rabbit chores: Your rabbit’s litter box needs to changed every day to maintain optimal cleanliness. You will also need to wash and refill the bunny’s water bowl or bottle and provide fresh hay (lots of hay!) and pellets daily. Since greens are a requirement for every rabbit’s diet, you’ll have to provide these daily to your pet. Exercise time outside the cage is also important to your rabbit’s health and well-being; rabbits need at least two to four hours of outside-cage time per day.
2. Rabbit-proofing your home: Rabbits are voracious chewers, so any room they are allowed to roam in must be completely rabbit-proofed for their safety and for the protection of your possessions. Electrical, computer and telephone cords must be covered with plastic tubing, and wooden table legs should be covered in bubble wrap. Some rabbits like to chew on cloth, so rugs, pillows and other upholstery items may be in harm’s way if a rabbit is given the run of a room.
Digging is another favorite pastime of rabbits, and you may find the corners of your carpet lifted up if you let your rabbit roam free in a carpeted room. You’ll need to protect the corners of your carpeting if you have a rabbit with an inclination to dig. Offer digging options in the form of untreated grass mats as an outlet for your rabbit’s digging urge.
3. Rabbit veterinary care: Rabbits get sick just like other pets and periodically need veterinary care. If your bunny becomes sick, it is your responsibility as its caretaker to get it to a veterinarian right away. If your rabbit’s illness is serious or prolonged, you may end up spending hundreds, or possibly thousands of dollars, for diagnosis and treatment. (Postponing care often increases veterinary care costs, so always bring your rabbit to the vet when it first shows signs of a medical condition.)
4. Rabbit pet sitting or boarding: If you go on vacation or business trips, you’ll need to find someone to care for your rabbit while you are gone. Find a friend, neighbor or relative to feed, clean up after and exercise your rabbit, or hire a rabbit pet sitter to do the work. Caring for a rabbit is different from a pet sitting a dog or cat in both feeding requirements (rabbits need an ample supply of hay throughout the day) and interaction (a rabbit needs supervised time outside its enclosure in a stress-free environment). Your caretaker must be fully aware of your rabbit’s needs.
Before embarking on rabbit ownership, think long and hard about these responsibilities and whether you really want to take them on. Rabbits can live for nine to 12 years, so providing a home for a rabbit is a serious commitment.
Excerpt from the Popular Critters® Series magabook Rabbits®,with permission from its publisher BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Rabbits here.