Hello friends – Toki is coming to you from my spot in the Potter League. Did you know that July is the month of bunnies to the rescue? I didn’t do that until I heard some of the staff talking about it. We have some cute and cuddly bunnies for adoption here in the Potter League, so if you’re interested, come see them. Of course, there are a few things you should know about rabbits before adopting them.
Rescued rabbits are different from those you see outside in your garden. Pet rabbits are inner creatures. If kept outside, they can become easy prey for wolves and other wild animals. It also does not work well when it is hot or when the temperature is below freezing. Rabbits live about 9 to 12 years, so if you want to adopt one, prepare for a long-term relationship with your rabbit!
Just like other pets (and humans!), each rabbit has its own personality. Some rabbits are very social and outgoing while others are more conservative. You will need to get to know your rabbit’s personality and find the best way to interact and socialize with them to help them adjust to their new home. Rabbits can live in a home with other pets such as cats and dogs, but they should always be monitored when they spend time together to prevent any accidental injuries.
Rabbits also need regular veterinary care. They do not need vaccinations, but they should have regular check-ups. If you adopt a female rabbit, she should be spayed after she is 6 months old to prevent uterine cancer that is common in unsterilized rabbits.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
1. Introductions – Just like any other pet, a rabbit needs to get used to its new home. It is best to keep them confined to one room until they feel comfortable. Line the cage with shredded paper and place the cage in that room so they have a safe place to go to acclimatize.
2. Handling – Although rabbits appear to be soft and cuddly, most do not like to be held and carried. They are land-dwelling animals and prefer to stay near the ground. If you try to pick up your rabbit when he doesn’t want you to, he may feel threatened and bitten. They can also become infected if not handled properly. It is best to stay on the ground with your rabbit and let them come to you. Let them smell your hand, perhaps while holding a candy like carrot or apple. It may take some time, but your rabbit will learn to trust you and become comfortable interacting with you.
3. Nutrition – Rabbits need a diet rich in fiber to keep their digestive system working well and to keep their teeth (which are always growing). Your rabbit should have high-quality pellets, timothy hay, and pure water daily. You can give them fresh veggies like carrots (yes, rabbits really love carrots!), romaine lettuce daily, and a treat from fresh fruits like apples and grapes.
4. Toilet Use – Like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box! Rabbits usually choose one place in their cage to use as a bath. Put the litter box in that space and if you see the rabbit going somewhere else, move the litter to that area so you can snag it! Cover the litter box with shredded paper (do not use cat litter) and clean it regularly.
5. Exercise – Rabbits may be small but they need exercise. They do not need to be walked on a leash, but they do need to spend a few hours each day outside their cage. This can be in a single room or once they feel comfortable you can give them the management of the house. They should be supervised when outside their usual area as rabbits have been known to chew on unhealthy things like panels and electrical wires!
6. Grooming – Rabbits groom themselves often and are usually kept perfectly clean so they do not require bathing or professional grooming. They need their nails trimmed every few weeks and if you have a long-haired rabbit, they should be combed regularly to prevent matting of their fur.
7. Play – Rabbits need play for many of the same reasons that other pets require – to keep their minds active, to exercise and to keep them from chewing things they shouldn’t!
Chewing: Rabbits love to chew – and need to chew to keep their teeth healthy. There are a lot of things you can provide for chewing and there is a little variety that keeps it fun. Non-toxic cardboard tubes, boxes, wicker baskets and wood or sticks can provide hours of chewing fun – and protect your furniture from unwanted chewing!
Clustering: If your rabbit likes to “clump” the towels or pillows, give her her own collection. Put an old towel or pillow on the floor in their room or in their cage so they can “pack” things whenever they feel the need to.
I hope this helps you decide if a rabbit is the right addition to your family!
Your friend Toki
Mail questions to Tuki, PO Box 412, Newport, RI 02840 or email [email protected] The Potter League for Animals can be found at 87 Oliphant Lane in Middletown and online at potterleague.org.
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