Why Rabbits Make Awesome Pets Year-Round (Not Just for Easter)
Ellison is a park ranger's daughter and farmer's daughter with a love for all things agriculture and outdoors.
Do You Really Want a Pet Rabbit?
We all think about bunnies at Easter time. What about the rest of the year, though? Rabbits are fun and easy pets, but they shouldn't be forgotten for the rest of the year!
That being said, getting a rabbit, just like getting any other pet, is a commitment of time and money. You should think through the decision before getting a bunny impulsively.
What Breed of Rabbit Do You Want?
There are little rabbits and giant rabbits, short-haired rabbits and long-haired rabbits. Take the time to find out what breed you think you are most interested in.
On our farm, we breed Lionhead rabbits, Mini Rex rabbits, and Flemish Giant rabbits. These are just the breeds we love the most and chose to focus on, but these are just a few of many breeds. Take the time and research your options.
Lionhead rabbits are probably the rabbits that we sell the most of. They stay pretty small, and their soft, long hair and bushy mane around their neck (thus the name Lionhead) make them absolutely precious as both babies and adults. Lionhead rabbits do require brushing a few times a week to prevent their hair from matting.
Mini Rex rabbits have a unique coat that feels like velvet or fleece, and they are amazingly soft. Mine enjoy being brushed, but it isn't necessary because their coat is slick, short, and dense and doesn't mat or tangle.
Flemish Giants are my personal favorite. They grow to be very large, so if you are interested in one, it will require a larger cage or hutch. They don't need grooming as often as Lionheads because they don't get matted, but they do tend to shed a lot at certain times of the year, so brushing them is a good idea, and many learn to really enjoy it.
Housing Rabbits Outside
Many people do have indoor rabbits, though I have always kept mine in outdoor hutches. Our hutches have a wire floor in the front, with a rubber mat for their food and water dish, as well as to give them a place to give their feet a break from the wire (especially the Mini Rex who don't have thick hair over their feet). The Flemishes are heavier, which makes them more susceptible to sores on their feet if they can't get off the wire.
The back of the hutch has a small area with a wooden floor. This is a place to put comfortable bedding for them and for them to feel safe and get out of the weather.
Our rabbits all live outdoors and adapt well to temperature changes through the seasons. In the summer, if they seem hot, we freeze water bottles for them to lay next to. In the winter, we stuff the back part of the hutch with straw and jam pack it. Then the rabbits burrow in and make a spot in the straw that is nice and warm.
Choosing Housing for Indoor Rabbits
There are many types of rabbit cages available at pet stores and on Amazon. When considering housing your rabbit indoors, you should browse the different options available and see what you think will work best for your home.
There are also many types of bedding as well. You should choose whatever type you think will be easiest to clean since you will need to clean the cage regularly. Also, keep in mind whatever bedding you use will get on your floor when you let your rabbit out to play. Chose a bedding that you think will be easiest to clean up off your floors.
Keep in mind that rabbits love to chew things! If you let your rabbit out to play with it, it will most likely try to chew anything it can find. Carpets, rugs, or even worse, electrical cords and wires. Wherever you plan on letting the rabbit out to play, it should be "bunny-proofed" to avoid problems.
One other thing I should mention about indoor rabbits is that male rabbits tend to spray their urine to establish dominance over their territory. This can become a smelly problem if he sprays outside of the cage.
What Food to Offer Your Rabbit
You can find a wide variety of rabbit foods at pet food retailers. I have not found that one type is particularly better than the others.
The key to the rabbit's healthy diet is to make sure that besides its hay and pellets, it also gets greens and vegetables. Apples and carrots make a great treat, or you can buy commercially made ones.
My rabbits really like the yogurt drop treats. Keep in mind how small your rabbit is while feeding it. It should have pellets and forage to nibble on all the time, but as far as veggies and treats, a little piece of kale, apple, or carrot goes a long way, especially with the smaller rabbit breeds.
Water Bottle or Water Bowl?
As for food dishes, I like ceramic ones because sometimes the rabbits sort of stand on the edge of the dish to eat, and the lighter weight ones can sometimes spill over.
My personal rabbits drink from water bowls, not water bottles. That is just a personal preference because I find the bottles harder to clean and more annoying to refill.
What Kind of Care Will My Rabbit Need?
My rabbits are used for breeding, so they are not spayed or neutered. It has been said that doing so will increase your rabbit's life expectancy, especially female rabbits. I don't have personal experience with having that done. If you can find a local vet willing to see rabbits, they could advise you further on this.
- Dental Care: Rabbit's teeth can sometimes become overgrown and cause them to have trouble eating. This can be prevented by providing them with things to chew on in the cage. This helps with the natural urge to chew and also helps keep the teeth from overgrowing and misaligning the rabbit's jaw.
- Nail Care: You will need to trim your rabbit's nails. This can be done easily with baby nail clippers. All rabbits' nails grow at different rates, so how often your rabbit needs trimming you will have to learn as you go. You don't want their nails to get so long that they affect how the rabbit can get around, or so long that they curl into the bottom of the rabbit's foot.
Finding vets to treat rabbits can be hard in some areas. I only know of one in my area that will see them, and she admits she doesn't know a lot about them.
Due to the fact that in nature, rabbits are preyed upon by many larger animals, they tend to not show any signs of illness until they are too sick for a vet to be able to help. The more time you spend with your rabbit, the more you will be aware of his normal behaviors and be able to identify if they aren't feeling well.
How to Get Your Rabbit Accustomed to Handling
As with any new pet, there will be an adjustment period while your rabbit acclimates to its new home. I have found it best to let them have a few days to themselves before you start to interact with them too much. Keep in mind how small rabbits are, compared to how big we are; it's scary for them until they get used to us.
As I mentioned before, rabbits like to chew on things. It's been said anything that has teeth can bite you, and this is true of rabbits as well. Though I have found that most of the time, people who are bitten by rabbits asked for it by sticking their fingers through the cage in the bunny's face.
When you first start to pick up your bunny, I suggest that you sit down, pick up the bunny, and set it in your lap to pet it. That way, they feel more secure. Most of the time when rabbits scratch it is because they are panicked or scrambling around because they feel like they are about to fall or be dropped. It doesn't take long for rabbits to acclimate to being handled if done often and respectfully as to not scare them.
Other Things You Should Keep in Mind
I have found that people are under the illusion that rabbits don't have long life spans. I have found that to not be true at all. My outdoor rabbits, who are cared for well, usually live to be over 10 years old. I even had one live to 14!
Though the smaller breed rabbits are so darn cute, I recommend the larger breeds for children. Of the three breeds that we have, the Flemish Giant rabbits seem to be naturally less skittish.
If you chose to house your rabbit indoors and you have other pets, it is your responsibility to acclimate the other house pets to the rabbit safely and without putting the rabbit in danger. Remember, dogs and cats like to chase things that run from them, which could be a recipe for disaster for your new bunny.
Every time I sell a rabbit to someone, I tell them that if for whatever reason they decide they don't want it, that I will happily take it back, no questions asked, no judgment. Normally when I get a request to take a bunny back, it all has to do with the fact that someone lost interest. The child lost interest, and the parents are tired of caring for the rabbit, or they lost interest and then the rabbit not be interacted with, doesn't take well to handling when they randomly decide they want to play with it.
So the lesson to be learned here is no different than any other pet you might consider getting. Make sure you know what you are getting into; make sure it is something you really want and can commit to. Then, most importantly, educate yourself as much as possible beforehand.
Rabbits can be found for sale on craigslist or in pet stores. They are not hard to come by. I would recommend you take your time and get your rabbit from a breeder, that way, you will have someone to call and ask for help if you have questions.
Rabbits Are Great and Easy Pets
Rabbits don't get enough credit. They are fun pets. Just like dogs and cats, they all have their own distinct personalities, likes, and dislikes. The more time you dedicate to them, the more fun your rabbit will be for you to interact with. Take your time, do your research, buy from a reputable breeder, and I think you will find you will get years of enjoyment from a pet rabbit.
Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on August 18, 2018:
Great link, I have always heard that as well, but this puts it in a much more understandable context!
Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on August 18, 2018:
Thank you for reading my article! I always love to hear from other people who love bunnies!!
The Logician from now on on August 18, 2018:
Great info. They really are too cute to resist. Hard to imagine raising them to eat like some people do!
When I was in college we had a pet rabbit that we litter trained - it was pretty good with it but occasionally missed the mark. The first rabbit I had was as a child in first grade and it died in a week for no apparent reason. When I grew up I discovered if they are kept from eating their poop they could die. I think my mother, a registered nurse, was a little too meticulous with the rabbit’s hygiene
Why Baby Animals are Born in Spring
Why are baby farm animals typically born in the spring? And why do we have an “Easter Bunny”? Enjoy our seasonal weather post—and, of course, adorable pictures of baby animals!
Many animals and birds have their babies after the start of spring. Of course, springtime does provide the best weather conditions for the animals to give birth. The temperatures rise and there is less chance of harsh weather.
Also, the increased day length means that animals have longer to find food for their young.
However, it’s not just warm temperatures and daylight that they need. Air pressure is also important! University of Arkansas scientists report that spring calves tend to be born when barometric (air) pressure is high.
High air pressure discourages rainfall (think “high and dry”). Calves born when the pressure is high are more likely to have some healthy dry weather before they have to deal with cold springtime rains and snow. (Can you tell I’ve been spending a lot of time among cattle raisers this month!)
Photo credit: Vinai Suwanidcharoen/Shutterstock
Spring calves tend to be born when the air pressure is high.
For most grazing animals, spring is the time when food is becoming plentiful, too. The warmer days and regular rainfall during spring means plants such as grass grow well.
Many mammal mothers need fresh green grass and other plants which are rich in nutrients to produce lots of milk for her calf. These plants can have a higher percentage of protein and ‘total digestible nutrients’. This can lead to better milk production for the babies.
Most calves are born between January and May because of this reason.
Did you know: Mid-latitude animals born in spring have the best chance of survival. Tropical animals, where food is easily available all year round, are born during any season. For most middle latitude animals, it is a delicate balance between being born late enough to avoid the last snow storm and early enough to be well developed to face the rigors of fall and winter.
The correlation between animal births and springtime have made baby animals symbols of rebirth and hope.
Ever notice the pictures of lambs, chicks, fawn, and bunnies festooning Easter cards?
We Do Have an Easter Bunny?
Where did the Easter Bunny come from? After all, rabbits do not restrain reproduction to springtime.
There are many reasons, often related to fertility. Did you know that rabbits can conceive one litter while still pregnant with another?
European superstition, not knowing this, believed that rabbits were giving virgin birth. So rabbits became a symbol of Virgin Mary.
At the same time, one of the first signs of spring in Europe, was the rabbits leaving their burrows and “frolicking”. So the long-earred critters became the symbol of springtime, fertility, Mother Mary and rebirth.
Whatever your weather, remember—springtime warmth and Easter await! Dream of chicks, lambs and bunnies—and yummy chocolate bunnies!
Top Ten Reasons to Bring a Bunny into Your Life
February is Adopt-a-Rabbit month, so we thought we would share with you our top ten reasons to add a bunny to your home. If you have been considering a rabbit as a pet, or considering a friend for your current rabbit, maybe now is the time!
10. They’re eco-friendly. Bunnies love recycled toys like toilet paper rolls stuffed with hay, used cardboard boxes with a door cut out, or even an old phone book for digging. You can compost their entire litter box if you use a natural litter, and you can grow herbs and greens for them right in your backyard!
9. Your bunny will be with you for a long time. Believe it or not, bunnies can live up to 10-12 years. That means you’ll have lots of time to spend with your new friend.
8. Allergic to dogs and cats? Try a bunny! Some people who are allergic to dogs and/or cats are not allergic to bunnies. They’re a great alternative companion!
7. Petting a bunny reduces stress. There are quite a few scientific studies demonstrating that just watching an animal reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases serotonin, the happy molecule. Snuggling up with a bunny can even lower blood pressure!
6. They’re great in apartments. They only need a minimum of a 4×4 space to live in during the day, with some time to roam free in the evenings. Plus they’re quiet enough not to bother the neighbors. You won’t ever have to take them out for walks, and you don’t need a backyard to let them run around in.
5. Compared to dogs or cats, they’re fairly low-maintenance. Bunnies don’t need to go for walks, they don’t need vaccines and they can be litter box trained. Although they do need to visit the vet for regular care and they are not a “starter pet” for children, they are pretty easy to care for!
4. They want to play when you do. Bunnies are “crepuscular”, meaning that they’re most active in the mornings and evenings. That means bunnies are the most playful in the evenings when you get home from work!
3. Bunnies are entertaining. Have you ever seen a bunny binky? It’s not only amazing, it’s adorable too. Bunnies are intelligent they can learn tricks and play games. It’s even more fun if you adopt two!
2. They may be small, but they have BIG personalities. Bunnies can be sweet, friendly, sassy, energetic, goofy and a little bit of everything. You’ll be surprised at how much personality, attitude and spunk your bunny will have!
1. Bunnies make wonderful companions. They will make you smile when you’re down, they will listen when you need to talk, and they’ll snuggle you when you need a friend. Who knows? You may even get a few kisses!
Whatever reasons you have, bringing a bunny into your home can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. And choosing to adopt a bunny gives a homeless bunny a forever home. If you are hoping to add a bunny or two to your life, stop by the Ohio House Rabbit Adoption Center and our volunteers will help you find your new, furry friend!
Pet Talk: Easter not always the right time to adopt a rabbit
Happy and Joey were found abandoned in a park in 2010 and are available for adoption as a bonded pair through Rabbit Advocates. Just make sure before adopting them, or any other rabbit, that you're prepared to provide them with proper care.
It may sound counterintuitive, but Easter is the time of year people who love rabbits dread most.
"Easter is a time for great concern among rabbit rescue organizations," says Elizabeth Olson of Portland-based Rabbit Advocates, "because so many people purchase bunnies, especially baby bunnies, without understanding how much work they are to care for properly."
The problem is that people tire quickly of their impulsive Easter purchases or adoptions and abandon the animals, often subjecting them to a cruel and untimely end.
"A few months after Easter, the cute bunnies, through no fault of their own, become unwanted, throwaway pets," Olson says. "Many are dumped outdoors to fend for themselves, where they usually die or are killed by predators."
Others languish in shelters, where these social animals often sit alone in kennels waiting for someone to adopt them.
Rabbits have been a symbol of spring for centuries, and their legendary reproductive abilities were most likely why hares were believed to represent the pagan fertility goddess Eostre.
"One of the reasons that rabbits became a symbol of spring is that they are very fertile animals," says Deborah Wood, animal services manager for Washington County, which takes in rabbits year-round.
"If a rabbit hasn't been spayed or neutered, it needs to have this done by a responsible owner," Wood says.
Rabbits from area shelters and rescue groups like Rabbit Advocates, the county shelters and the Oregon Humane Society should already be "fixed."
However, rabbits purchased on Craigslist or from a breeder may not have had the surgery.
Unaltered baby bunnies become hormonal, messy, and sometimes unpleasant. They're also at a much higher risk of developing breast and reproductive cancers.
Another thing people may not realize about rabbits is that they're not ideal pets for young children.
Families who bring a bunny on board should be prepared to care for that animal throughout its lifetime, which can last up to 10 or 12 years.
"Parents should always assume that the pet is for the parent and will be cared for by a parent," Olson points out. "The child certainly can help, but no child can assume full responsibility for a delicate and subtle pet rabbit."
Children tend to get bored with pets quickly, move away from home or become preoccupied with school and other activities, she says. This often leads to their furry family member being neglected, abandoned or given away.
Another reason kids should be careful is that rabbits are very fragile animals and can actually break if dropped or handled improperly. They also can literally die of fright.
Rabbits are prey animals, and being handled like a cat or dog could frighten them, possibly causing them to bite or nip.
"Being lifted up by a human may feel a lot like being snatched up by a hawk, from a rabbit's perspective," Wood says. "Adopting any animal should include learning about what it needs, and for rabbits a big part of that is understanding what a rabbit needs to feel safe."
Rabbits also have unique digestive systems that must keep moving constantly, so they need to have constant access to nutritious food.
For baby rabbits younger than about 8 months old, that means alfalfa hay and pellets. Timothy hay and small amounts of high-quality pellets should be staples in an adult rabbit's diet.
If you or a family member is allergic to timothy hay (another good thing to know before adopting), you can substitute oat hay or orchard grass as mix-ins or alternatives, Olson says.
Contrary to Bugs Bunny's belief, rabbits shouldn't eat carrots, iceberg lettuce, nuts, fruit or anything sugary. These foods cause weight gain and can cause serious stomach problems.
These lovable lagomorphs have continuously growing teeth, and they need to nibble throughout the day. You'll want to make sure they have nutritious hay to gnaw on - not electrical cords, plants or wallpaper.
Rabbits can mistake any of these items for chew toys, so make sure your home is "rabbit-proofed," or your new pet could get very ill.
If they do get sick, consider that rabbits are considered "exotic" animals and require care from veterinarians who are accustomed to treating them.
Lastly, rabbits should be considered indoor-only pets, Olson says.
They can be house-trained to use a litter box, and they are highly intelligent, social creatures who love to interact with their families.
Rabbits can learn to perform tricks, do agility work, or enjoy spending lap time with their human families.
"If a rabbit is a pet that is a good fit for you, they can be wonderful little pets," Wood says. "They often have strong personalities and are interesting to live with. It is all a question of learning about what they need and being a responsible rabbit owner, just as we hope people are responsible dog owners or responsible cat owners."
Tips box: For more information about adopting a rabbit, visit the Rabbit Advocates website at rabbitadvocates.org or call 503-617-1625.
The group invites the public to pose questions about rabbit care at its monthly meetings, which take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, 1100 N.E. 192nd Ave. in Vancouver. The next meeting is April 19.
Things to know before bringing home bunny:
Reasons pet turtles and tortoises are awesome
We all know turtles and tortoises make awesome pets, but do you know why?
Chances are, turtles and tortoises make awesome pets for reasons you’ve never even thought about. You say you’re not a turtle person? You will be, after you read this.
Turtles are easy
Every pet has its challenges, and we’re not claiming turtles are an exception to that rule. We are saying, though, that turtles may give you fewer headaches than some higher-maintenance animals. “Turtles and tortoises are good pets because most of them are relatively small they are quiet and easy to care for if provided with the correct habitat and diet,” said Nick Saint-Erne, DVM, CertAqV, and resident PetSmart veterinarian.
Mealtime made simple
You have enough picky eaters at your house. Turtles won’t add to that problem.
“Most water turtle species are omnivorous, and will eat fresh green produce as well as feeder fish and worms,” said Saint-Erne. “There are also pelleted diets for them that are nutritious and easy to use.”
Tortoises aren’t much more difficult. According to Saint-Erne, they’re mostly herbivorous, and eat fresh greens, grass, hay, other vegetables and fruits and pelleted tortoise diets. “Most reptiles also benefit from calcium and vitamin powder sprinkled over their food a few times per week,” he added.
Depending on where you live, you may have more options than you think for housing your turtle or tortoise. “Turtles and tortoises are relatively easy to maintain in either outdoor pens or ponds — seasonal or year-round with shelters, depending on geographical location — or indoor habitats,” said Saint-Erne. “Water turtles need a minimum of 20 gallons of water, and as adults may need a 55-gallon aquarium with strong filtration to properly house them.”
Lovers of light
We all love the feel of the sun on our skin. Turtles and tortoises love to feel it, too… on their shells. If you have a shelled critter that spends most of his time indoors, make sure you’re making up for the loss of natural light.
“Turtles and tortoises need exposure to ultraviolet light, so a UV bulb as well as a heat source needs to be provided in their habitats if kept indoors,” said Saint-Erne.
Members of the family
You know those quickly little traits that make the family dog so endearing? Turns out turtles have those, too. According to Saint-Erne, turtles have very unique personalities. And he knows what he’s talking about. Not only is Saint-Erne a turtle expert, but he’s also a turtle owner.
“I have nine different species of turtles and tortoises I keep as pets, and not only do their personalities differ between species, but even in the same species they vary,” he said. “Some are very friendly and run toward me when they see me, others are more reclusive and hide when observed. Some like to be picked up, some don’t. Most will eat directly from my hands when being fed.”
Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra brand manager at Rolf C. Hagen, says land-based tortoises can actually hang out with the family in your home, as long as they have a safe habitat to return to when they’re not being supervised.
“Many [tortoises] become part of the family and can freely roam around the house much like a dog or cat. Their vegetarian diets may require that you keep them away from the family garden, but cleanup and care are fairly simple and straightforward,” he said.
Old turtles, new tricks
OK, so you’re probably not going to be playing fetch with your pet turtle, but these shelled creatures are not totally unteachable.
“In ancient Turkey, tortoises were taught to ‘dance’ to music, and many pet turtles will learn to come when called. Rolling over, however, is not something they can be taught to do,” said Saint-Erne.
Friends for life
When you make the decision to add a turtle or tortoise to your family, it’s important you know that they live a lot longer than most pets.
“Turtles can be longtime friends,” says Sotelo. “Some turtles and tortoises can have a long life span. Many common, pet-friendly species can live up to 20 years if cared for properly.”
It’s a big commitment, but the payoff is huge if you’re up to the challenge.
This post was sponsored by PetSmart.