Is a rabbit the best pet for you?
With Easter approaching it is hard to avoid the cute pictures of little Easter Bunnies surrounded by chocolate! The sales of pet bunnies have been shown to increase around Easter time, but unfortunately, many people do not realise the responsibility and costs related to keeping a rabbit as a pet. To help you decide if a rabbit is really the best pet for you and your family, here are our top facts about keeping a rabbit as a pet!
1.Rabbits get lonely!
In the wild rabbits live in groups, a group of bunnies is known as a fluffle! This means they feel much safer in groups than alone. There are lots of scientific studies that show rabbits are less stressed when they have a friend and that they value friendship as much as they value food! We recommend that rabbits are always kept in compatible groups, or neutered pairs.
2.Rabbits need space!
Although we think of wild rabbits living in burrows, we know that they also run for several hours each day, the Europian rabbit is thought to have a territory of around 2 acres. Rabbits are also known for being able to jump extremely high, the world record for a rabbit jump is recorded as 3 feet 3.2 inches! Pet rabbits can live indoors or outdoors, but it is essential that they have enough space. Traditional rabbit hutches are likely to be inappropriate, and should be thought of as their ‘burrow’, a place to rest, and used only as a part of their larger living area. The minimum size for a permanent rabbit enclosure is 3m x 2m x 1m, but many people create amazing enclosures converting sheds and children’s play houses.
3.Rabbits are a prey species!
In the wild rabbits are preyed upon and eaten by many other animals, because of this they can be shy, quiet and nervous, and do not like being held off the ground. This means that they do not like being carried around, so when kept as pets for children it is important that they are played with at ground level. Rabbits take time to become comfortable with interacting with people, and loud noises and rough handling can scare them. This means that they are often not the most suitable pets for young children.
4.Rabbits like to dig and chew!
When building burrows in the wild rabbits dig and chew to make a series of tunnels lined with grass, leaves and twigs. This natural behavior means that it is important to ‘rabbit proof’ their housing area! If they are indoor rabbits this means making sure they cannot access electric cables or precious furniture, and if they are outdoor this means making sure they cannot dig an escape tunnel! Providing your pet with safe things to chew, and a safe place to dig will help them fulfill this natural behavior, helping to keep them calm and happy!
5.Rabbits need to see the vet too!
Most wild rabbits have a life expectancy of just 1-2 years, our pet rabbits however can live 10 years or more! It is important to consider the cost over this time of owning a rabbit, as like other pets, rabbits should have yearly vaccinations and health checks. When rabbits are unwell they can deteriorate rapidly, so it is important to have your rabbit registered at a vet practice so they can be seen quickly if they are very ill or wounded.
Rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are the third most popular pet in the UK and bring joy and pleasure to many households. As with any pet purchase it is important to make sure you can provide them with a safe and secure environment, remembering that a bunny is for life and not just for Easter (unless it’s made of chocolate!!)