House Rabbit Society of Missouri
Things to Consider Before Adopting a New Bunny
Adding a new pet to your family is a major consideration and should never be taken lightly. Rabbits are not pocket pets; they are highly social creatures who can live past ten years of age. Please read through our website, especially the education pages, so that you can decide whether a rabbit is a good fit for your family. There are some primary considerations that you should understand before looking into having a rabbit as a pet.
To begin with, rabbits make wonderful house pet--as in an animal that lives full-time inside your house. Hutches were designed for rabbits on meat farms, not family pets. They provide minimal comfort and little protection from the elements. A rabbit living inside a hutch is a very lonely animal. They crave human touch and love attention. Bunnies who live inside can get this attention anytime. In addition, they will be protected from predators, cold, rain, ice and parasites. Rabbits who live inside will be more affectionate to their humans as they will not perceive everything as a threat. Imagine putting a prey animal into a cage outside with nowhere to hide, those wire bottoms wearing through their feet until they are bloody. Predators have also been known to attack bunnies through these grids. It is a life of constant fear and pain.
Now that you know where they should live, please don't buy them a pet store cage, they are too small and many contain the same wire bottoms for floors that hurt their feet. Make a cage for them or buy a dog crate, listed on our site here. It is a common misnomer that rabbits cannot be kept indoors due to their odor and spraying urine. Spayed or neutered bunnies do not have any bad odors. Once the hormones are gone, the spraying stops. They can use a litter box with rabbit safe litter.
Please consider adopting a bunny, don't buy one from a pet store. In addition to being spayed and neutered already, you can sit with many bunnies at our rescue to find find the one that likes you the best. Baby bunnies from pet stores can grow to be 2 pounds or 10 pounds, do you know how to tell the difference? An adolescent or adult rabbit already has their personality fully developed and you won't have to worry about the change that comes with hormones. Bonded pairs of rabbits also have each other for company while you are away, but if you get two babies from a store, they might end up creating many new bunnies. It is very hard to sex a 4-8 week old rabbit(bunnies sold in pet stores are often removed from their mothers too soon).
"Rabbits and horses share ancestry, read on for some ways we are alike."
Cost of Rabbit Ownership
These are only the initial costs of owning a real bunny. Problem vet visits routinely run over $300 and bunnies can live over 10 years.
**Initial data/idea produced by San Diego House Rabbit Society
Similarities between Rabbits and Horses.
We are both hind gut fermentors.
We are strict herbivores.
We are nasal obligate breathers.
We both have a bar in the mouth (a substantial space between the front teeth and molars).
We both have ears that rotate to catch sound.
We are herd animals.
We have a hierarchy.
We can get colic (in rabbits it's called G.I. Stasis, but both are a product of movement in the gut stopping).
Our teeth continually grow throughout our lifetime.
We can get molar spurs which need to be filed down.
We do high jumping.
We both need 80%+ of our diet to be hay. Supplemental feeding is minimal.
Baby bunnies are adorable, but they don't stay this tiny forever.
Parents often come to adopt a bunny for their child, please be aware that as the adult, you are expected to be the primary caregiver. Bunnies need medical care and at least 2-4 hours out of their cage/pen per day. Can your child provide that without your help? Also, housing a bunny in a child's room is not ideal. They are not nocturnal but can be very noisy at night, plus the hay dust can aggravate allergies. Did you know that bigger bunnies do better with children? They are less skittish and not as afraid of sudden movements. For this reason, we do not recommend rabbits under 4 lbs to homes with small children. Most dwarf bunnies do not like being held and one ill-placed hug could actually kill them--they are very delicate creatures.
Parents need to be committed to having the bunny as a member of the family--when kids get bored, the bunnies get dumped back at shelters. While we ask that you return the rabbit to us (it's in our adoption contract) rather than release it into the wild (they cannot survive outside), both acts are teaching your child that a beloved pet is something easily discarded. A 4-year-old rabbit isn't going to be easy to adopt back out. Not to mention the psychological damage to the rabbit, many do not recover from being dumped.
If you think you might be allergic, bunnies might not be for you. Try volunteering at the shelter to see whether they make your symptoms worse. It is usually the hay that people are allergic to, we sell hay with no seed heads and use it in our shelter.
Finally, we want you to adopt a bunny: rabbits who are loved and treated well will provide you with a ton of love in return. It is harder to make a prey animal trust you, but the rewards are great. We just want you to make an informed decision.