What you need to know before bringing a bunny home
Easter can be an exciting and precious time to spend with family, and for children, a visit from the Easter Bunny is something fun to look forward to! While we may look forward to seeing what yummy gifts we may receive, it is important to remember that real bunnies often do not make great gifts – especially if they are a surprise! The decision to own a pet should be made with consideration and dedicated commitment to care for that pet for its entire life. For those who have made the choice to bring a bunny into their lives this Easter, we have listed our top bunny-care tips below to help ensure your bunny becomes a loved family member for life.
Why own a rabbit?
With their soft and adorable faces, their quiet nature and conveniently small stature, rabbits are a popular choice for a first family pet. While these captivating critters can certainly make affectionate and entertaining fur friends, there is much to consider before bringing a bunny into your home or garden.
The well-loved domestic rabbit can live for 10 to 12 years, so preparing for a long term commitment of care is important. Protecting your rabbit’s welfare over the years means understanding their unique dietary requirements and learning to read bunny body language! An ability to recognise fearful and abnormal behaviours in your bunny pal will help you to identify potential health concerns and will ensure you always know how to keep your rabbit comfortable and content.
Choosing an appropriate space to house your rabbit starts with deciding whether your new family member will live inside or outside, or a combination of both. Any form of bunny housing will need to offer plenty of places to hide, as well as space for exercise and exploration.
Hutches and aviaries make good permanent outdoor homes, provided they protect your bunny from extremes such as weather, potential predators, and disease (a bit of fly screen or shade cloth keeps disease-carrying mosquitos at bay!). While “house bunnies” enjoy the luxury of regular interaction with their humans, as well as plenty of environmental stimulation, they too can encounter trouble in the shape of power chords and other chew hazards. It is natural for rabbits to chew to keep their teeth trim and healthy, so covering up precious items and encasing power chords in plastic tubing will keep your bunny from injuring themselves or your belongings while they indulge in their favourite habits. Rabbits like to keep their living space clean and when given the opportunity will opt to the toilet in a designated area. Offering a litter tray to an inside or outside bunny keeps them happy and contains a mess.
As cute and cuddly as the rabbit is portrayed in fairy tales, our bunny friends are naturally very fearful when their feet leave solid ground.
After all, the rabbit is a prey species that seek underground shelter to hide from predators! While they may fit snuggly in the arms of a child, bunnies often do not appreciate being picked up and held off the floor, and they may struggle to get out of your grasp. A rabbit’s quick movements and strong hind legs can inflict accidental injury on the person doing the holding and bunnies can sometimes even injure themselves in their panic to be released. So it is important to consider both natural and observed behaviours when interacting with rabbits. Learning to “speak rabbit” will help build a firm bond of trust between you and your big-eared friend, and not much compares to witnessing the joyous zooms and binkies of a healthy, happy bunny!