Sunday, November 16, 2008

Question from the Audience: Before Adopting

A few questions from potential adopter Tara D. in Chicago, IL:
Hi! I am soon planning to adopt a bunny but I have some questions.
Q: Where should I adopt a bunny? A pet store? A Breeder? A Shelter? I know it all depends on me, I am just nervous about getting a sick bunny or not getting enough information on where the bunny came from?
A: The best place to acquire a healthy rabbit will be from a shelter or a rescue organization. Pet stores have no guarantees and breeders are notorious for inbreeding-related genetic problems. Shelters do medical examinations of their incoming animals, so they can guarantee an animal is healthy, or otherwise provide full disclosure. And most importantly, adopting from a shelter also helps the colossal problem of pet overpopulation; by adopting, you are saving that animal's life. With millions of animals being euthanized in shelters yearly, I believe it is socially irresponsible to buy from a pet store. Pet stores encourage and support animal breeding facilities which feed into the rabbit overpopulation problem.
The Red Door Animal Shelter in Chicago specializes in bunnies and would be a great place for you to visit.

Q: How do you know what gender a bunny is? And how do you know if its neutered or not?
A: If you are adopting, the shelter or rescue organization will be able to tell you the gender of each rabbit. Rest assured that both sexes are equally friendly and relaxed--as long as they've been fixed.
The shelter can tell you if a rabbit has been altered by checking for a spay scar or testicles. Spay scars can be hard to locate, so some veterinarians will actually mark a doe that has been fixed.

Q:What kind of cage do I get for my bunny?
A: You should get a cage that is spacious and has a flat surface.
The cage should fit an appropriately-sized litterbox, bowls for food and water, an area to lay down, room to hop around and stretch out. Since it is advisable to put your pet in the cage while you are away and unable to supervise, you'll want to consider that she will undoubtedly be spending a sizeable amount of time in there. If the cage isn't big enough, your rabbit will feel cramped, which may lead to physical and mental discomfort. This can manifest itself in nonstop digging, cage chewing, and other behavioral problems.
For rabbits other than dwarfs, I would recommend a dog crate instead of the rabbit cages pet stores offer. There are numerous varieties of dog crates and some have pull out trays which can make for easy cleaning; additionally, many of them fold down to a compact and portable size.
Don't use a wire-bottomed cage as it can lead to a painful condition called sore hocks. If you do have a wire-bottomed cage, make sure to cover it with a flat surface, so that rabbit can escape to a comfortable area.

Graysie in her cage, fit for an 80 lb dog

Outfit the cage with all sorts of toys, a rug or towel (unless they are ingesting bits of it), a cardboard box for security, tons of hay, a food and water dish, a large litterbox, and various mental stimulations to entertain you're rabbit while your gone.

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