Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are You Rabbit-Ready?

So you're thinking about getting a rabbit... Great! Rabbits make terrific pets, but they do require some specialized care and attention. As with any pet, you're going to want to do some preliminary research to figure out beforehand exactly what you're getting yourself into. Rabbits can live 8-10 years and are not low-maintenance pets, so it's especially important to know the specifics of their care before bringing one into your home.

Some facts about house rabbits:

1. Rabbits eat a highly varied diet. While they can eat a small amount of pellets daily, they must have unlimited access to a fresh grass hay and an assortment of fresh vegetables. Feeding a rabbit is definitely not as simple as throwing some dog or cat food in a bowl every morning.

2. Rabbits need to be seen by a rabbit-experienced vet, which is usually termed as an "exotics" vet. Exotics vets can charge more than regular dog or cat vets, so rabbit health bills can add up. While rabbits do not need vaccinations, they should be seen at least once a year by a rabbit-savvy vet.

3. Rabbits should be housed indoors, and this creates the need for rabbit-proofing. You will need to purchase a large dog cage or x-pen in which to house the rabbit while you are away or sleeping. While you're around, you can let the bunny out to explore--but certain dangers, such as poisonous plants or materials, electrical wires, and expensive furniture, must be moved, covered up, or protected.

4. It's strongly recommended that your rabbit be spayed or neutered. This makes a huge difference in litter-training and in curbing various behavioral and health issues.

5. As aforementioned, and now should be evident, rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require specialized care, daily attention, and a considerable amount of supervision. Rabbits also do not make good "starter" pets for children, as they are highly sensitive physically and mentally.

Before acquiring a rabbit, strongly consider all the factors. And if you do decide to get one, always adopt from a shelter or rescue--never buy from a petstore!