Easter Bunnies

Dear Liz,

I’m thinking about getting a bunny for my daughter for Easter.   What can you tell me about making a purchase like this?

Sincerely,

Peter Cottontail

 

Dear Peter – Well, getting a bunny is like getting any other pet.  It takes commitment, time and money.  Let’s go over a few things…

Housing – The rabbit cages they sell at stores are no where near what a rabbit needs.  A rabbit will need a cage to be at least 3 feet wide by at least 6 feet long to be able to properly stretch out, etc., when not being exercised outside the cage.  Since the average, commercially sold, rabbit cage runs about $100.00, figure on at least $150.00 – $200.00 to have one built of proper size.

The BEST housing I ever saw was an enclosure built on the ground, actually around a tree. The rabbits were able to do what rabbits do naturally (dig and make burrows) and they were incredibly happy looking critters!

Now during the winter months, Bunny will need hay to line the hutch if Bunny is going to be kept outside.  Bunny will need a way to be warm and cozy and the hay is a great way to help that out.

And don’t forget that Bunny will need to be cleaned out!  A complete hutch clean out will need to be done on a weekly basis, but a daily cleaning of poop from under the hutch will also need to be done.

If Bunny is going to be an INSIDE bunny (and this can be done), Bunny will need a place to hang out at night (crate), a litter box, etc., (yep, they can be litter box trained).  And yep, a daily clean out of that litter box will need to be done as well.  Oh – don’t forget that bunnies need to chew, so anything wooden in your house is, well, fair game.  You’re going to have to Bunny proof your home as well.

Exercise – I had a rabbit for many years and he required daily exercise outside his pen.  This means finding a rabbit harness and walking him around the yard (I once saw someone walking their rabbit along the roadway in Collinsville!).  It means taking the time to play ball (yep, they love to play) or some other game with Bunny.  My rabbit loved to go sledding in the winter and leaf pile hide and seek in the fall.  The more activity he had, the happier he was.  Remember, they’re not just a bundle of fur – they need activity and mental stimulation.

Food – Rabbits need proper food – carrots and lettuce are nice, but won’t help keep Bunny healthy.  Alfalfa, carrots, oats, pellets, apples, etc., are needed to ensure good health.  Some rabbits (like one I had) also required Quaker Oats and pineapple because of digestive problems.  And because their teeth grow constantly, rabbits need something to chew on – constantly. 

Veterinary Care – Well, like all pets, sometimes Bunny needs to go to the vet.  If Bunny doesn’t wear his or her teeth down the vet will need to help things out.  Nails will also need to be clipped on a regular basis as rabbits kept in wire hutches don’t have the ability to naturally wear their nails down. Now finding a veterinarian who actually treats rabbits will have to be done BEFORE you get one. 

Now, I’ve given you basics on rabbit care.  So after the novelty of a new baby bunny has worn off, be prepared to take over feeding and care of the fluff-ball for the next, at least, 10 years.  Yep – they can live that long or longer!

My point is this – I loved having a rabbit.  I was constantly amazed at the intelligence level he had.  He was, well, cool!  But rabbit ownership is NOT for everyone.  Every spring, about a month or so after Easter, we all get calls about rabbits needing to be turned in.  “It’s more care than I thought” or “My kids lost interest”.  I know that baby bunnies, with cute, wriggling noses and soft, soft fur are VERY tempting.  And they seem like easy keepers.  But they’re not.  They require time and commitment, like any other pet.

So take some time – Take a LOT of time – and really, REALLY think about this one.  Are you prepared to be the caretaker once the newness has worn off?

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