Before you get a rabbit as a pet

Owning a rabbit takes extra patience and care. Something as simple as holding her is a bit of an art form. If you have a very young child, that great gift idea involving a baby bunny may not be so great after all. This is a major disadvantage to the many parents who buy rabbits as gifts for children. The House Rabbit Network says that most children under aged seven simply aren’t equipped to pick them up and hold them correctly. Rabbits are “ground oriented” and don’t like to be picked up.

Baby bunny plus baby human can equal disaster. A terrified bunny may make a break for it and break her back/neck or legs. Add bunny’s sharp nails and a scratch to the mix, and you have a recipe for chaos and two doctor visits, one for each baby.

Rabbits are high stress animals with cage-cleaning time being particularly stressful. How can you clean the cage if bunny comes at you like a furry piranha every time you approach with a garbage bag?

Early, continued socialization with humans or a companion rabbit may solve trust issues. They like attention. In fact The House Rabbit Network recommends taking your rabbit out of her cage for exercise and hugs at least three hours a day.

This brings us to our next disadvantage. There are electrical cords to chew, toxic plants to eat, baseboards to gnaw and open doors to scoot out of. If you are unable to provide the time needed for proper socialization, basic cleanliness and the safety your bunny needs, the disadvantages are obvious.

Rabbits groom themselves constantly and all that grooming can cause hairballs. Unlike cats, rabbits lack the ability to vomit, so hairballs can ultimately kill your bunny by causing an impaction in her gut. It’s up to you to brush your bunny at least once a week, and provide her with fresh hay for roughage every day to help prevent hairballs.

Since they prefer eliminating in one corner, litter box training should not be too hard. But if the litter box isn’t kept clean once bunny is trained, she’ll choose another, cleaner, spot to potty, probably on your new rug. The odor of either an unclean litter box or a wet rug can be bad. However, the single, dry droppings she leaves behind as she explores are simply a way of “marking” where she has been, will not leave a stain, and are easy to sweep up.

One of the biggest disadvantages of rabbit ownership is that rabbit vets are hard to find in some areas. A rabbit’s teeth and nails never stop growing and need to be clipped regularly. Although you can clip the nails regularly, only a vet can clip the teeth and examine them for impaction. And many drugs that regular vets use on cats and dogs can hurt or kill rabbits, so taking them to an unknowledgeable vet is a definite disadvantage.

Rabbits hide illness and injury signs. You may see subtle signs like an unkempt coat, or lethargic behavior. The sign may be as subtle as bunny sitting with her back to you all day in the same spot.  Sometimes when you finally find out, bunny’s gravely ill; it’s too late to treat her. House Rabbit Society is an excellent resource on the disadvantages of owning a rabbit.

Owning a rabbit takes hours of time, the patience of a saint, the knowledge of a scholar, a ton of work, and a supply of love that would tax Mother Teresa.

These are some of the disadvantages of owning a rabbit. There are plenty of advantages, too; but that’s an article for another day.


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