Easter and the bunny. Whatever that means to you, it's not what this post is about. This post is about the many people who think it's such a great idea to go out and buy a cute little snuggly bunny for their children, for Easter.
People, rabbits DO NOT make good pets for children! I've had a couple of rabbits. My last one came to live with us via another REALTOR'S® children, who found her wandering around their yard. Their house bordered the woods. But this was not originally a wild rabbit. Someone had abandoned her. The children chased her until they caught her, then brought her inside to show their mother. It's a good thing she was a young bunny because by nature, rabbits are prey. They can have a heart attack out of fear!
Their father then built her the Trump Tower of rabbit cages, in which she stayed until the family decided to take a month-long vacation that summer. My REALTOR® friend knew I had guinea pigs and cats (and am obviously a sucker :P) and asked if I would rabbit-sit while they were on vacation. Of course, I said "yes".
Before I finish my story of "Oreo", I'd like to insert a few rabbit facts.
- If you do not spay or neuter them (around $120) at a young age, they're VERY likely to eventually get cancer and die.
- They're very frightened of loud noises, which can give them a heart attack, which means they're not happy around young children!
- They don't like being lifted. I would tell you how to do so without stressing them, but I don't want to encourage anyone to buy an "Easter Bunny", so I'm not going to share that information.
- There's no guarantee that they'll EVER want to be held. It depends on their personality, which will take a long time to fully develop.
- They can be litter trained, but YOU DO NOT get to choose the spot! The rabbit will decide where it wants to potty (usually in the farthest corner from the door). Then you can place a litter tray in that spot.
- Even after being spayed or neutered, if they don't feel like they have their own area that they don't have to share with anyone else, they will continue to "mark" their territory!
- Rabbits must be brushed on a consistent basis. Their fur will get matted if they're not brushed, and they continually shed. Their hair is so fine, it will stick to everything.
- Rabbits are "gnawing" animals. Their teeth will always be growing. If they don't have something to gnaw on, their teeth will grow too long for them to even eat anything.
- Even when they're given plenty of gnawing toys, they'll still chew on anything and everything they can find.
Have I deterred you from wanting a rabbit yet? I hope so! Now I'll continue with my bunny story.
I fell in love with Oreo (that's what the children had named her and I never changed it.). Since I had cats and guinea pigs, I already knew that a rabbit's personality is similar to cats (I call it rabbitude) and their needs are similar to guinea pigs. (Guinea pigs are also not good pets for children!) Needless to say, Oreo never went "home" =D.
We put her cage on our screened in pool deck, just outside the family room French doors. Her cage opened from the top, AND it had a side door. My husband would open the side door in the morning and let her run around on the pool deck all day. She would go back into her cage if she wanted food or water, or just to be in her own space. She also came to be best friends with our black cat, Kiara. At that time, we only had the one cat. The 2nd cat, Whiskers joined our family several years later, when I found him abandoned at a house I was showing. (Of course I blogged about it.)
While Oreo was on the pool deck she proceeded to chew on every door frame and ate a hole in one of the window screens. Thankfully, she outgrew that stage as she matured.
Each evening, I would put Oreo back in her cage. Of course she made me chase her around the pool until she LET me pick her up. But she was smart. She eventually figured out that if she was going to have to get in her cage anyway, she was better off to just hop in the side-door on her own! So each evening, I would go out and say "Come on Oreo. It's time to get in your cage", and she would hop in. Of course, she also knew there would be fresh veggies and hay in the cage at that time as well. But every once in a while, she still made me do a couple of laps around the pool before she hopped in... usually when it was cold or raining. *sigh*
One interesting things about Oreo was, she loved the cold weather! When it was in the 40s, she would run and do this little sideways, hop-twist-jump thing. It was hilarious! And she could always outrun the cat when they were playing! She'd let the cat chase her, then turn around and run right back in the direction she'd just left. She usually went right under the cat on her trip back! The cat would never even see what had happened! It was so funny to see the cat on the far end of the pool deck. Sitting down with the strangest look on her face, looking for the rabbit and wondering what had just happened.
Anyway, during the last year or so that we had Oreo, several times, she just stopped eating. And when rabbits don't eat hay (they must have plenty of Fiber!) they get diarrhea. I would attempt to clean her up and trim all excess fur from between her back legs, so she wouldn't get any sores or infections. The last time she did this, while I had her at the vet's office, the vet let me know that she thought Oreo was nearing the end of her life span. We were never sure of her age, since the children had found her, and we don't know how long the original family kept her before they abandoned her, but the veterinarians can usually guess at a ballpark age.
I took Oreo home and started feeding her baby food and water through a baby dropper. (She wouldn't even drink water). The first few days after she stopped eating, she didn't act sick. But every time I walked across our living room and looked out the sliding glass doors, to see where she was, I noticed she was getting more and more lethargic.
After about a week, she died. I fed her around 6:30 that evening and put her in her cage, in the private section, laying on a pile of clean, fluffy towels. I shut the door so she'd feel safe and secure, and not be tempted to go explore something on the pool deck. I checked on her every hour. At around 8:30, I talked to her and petted her, and told my husband and I didn't think she'd make it through the night. At 9:30, she was dead. That was last August (2007).
The way our house is built, you can step out onto the pool deck from almost every room. It's strange, but I still think I see her out there, then remember she's not there anymore.
To finish this post, I'm just going to share with you, some videos I have on my You Tube channel. I'm so glad I made these videos. It makes me happy to watch them and remember what a happy little fluffball she was. But please remember, my videos are depicting the good times, and not showing how much work went into her regular care. I'm also going to insert a link to a video that was made by one of my You Tube friends who works at an animal shelter, of 29 rabbits that were dropped off there last week. Some of them had to be euthanized, others need surgery, and they all need to be neutered and spayed. If you must have a rabbit, or any pet, please do the research first, then adopt one. Don't impulsively buy one from a pet store.
Watch this video, if you can help save a bunny. The embedded videos are of my own pets, bunny included =)
Thanks for reading and Happy Easter. God bless.
Cat and Rabbit Playing (2006)
Pets at Play