I have grown up with pets all my life. My family consists of pet lovers, and therefore we always had one around. The itch for me started when I was two years old; my aunt gave me a rabbit for my birthday. Looking back, that probably was not the best decision, and I’m sure my parents loved her for it!  There are hardly any pictures of me at that age that don’t also have my rabbit “Bun Bun” with me! Looking back now, I wonder how Bun Bun survived for as long as she did, as she honestly did go everywhere with me when I was home.  After Bun Bun, there were more rabbits in my life. In fact, I had owned a rabbit most of my life, up until recently when my beloved Flemish Giant rabbit “Pepper” passed away.  I still miss him every day!

My beloved “Pepper”

Rabbits are very popular animals to own, especially in urban areas where homeowners and apartment dwellers do not have a lot of living space.  There is also a myth floating around that bunnies make great pets for children because they are “fuzzy and low maintenance.” This is not actually true! Numerous different sources of pet ownership statistics show that aside from dogs and cats, rabbits are the third most popular animal to be released into the wild or taken to animal shelters in the United States.  Therefore, In honor of February being National Adopt a Rabbit Month, Let’s learn more about the proper care of rabbits and how they make excellent companions for anyone.

Overall Facts

Rabbits are often thought of as a great “starter pet” for children. This is a big myth, there is no such thing as a “pet for the children.” Children cannot be given full responsibility for a pet. From owning a goldfish to a rabbit, or even a puppy, every child will need guidance and supervision from their parents to ensure the pet is properly fed, cleaned up after, and properly socialized. 

Housing and Bunny Behaviors

As I already mentioned, rabbits are social creatures and do not thrive when they are housed in a cage with minimal interaction. Here are some facts about housing for rabbits:

Housing Considerations
Behavioral Considerations

After you have considered the proper housing and natural behavioral traits for a rabbit, the next important thing is proper diet and nutritional needs.

Diet and Nutrition

Because of how a rabbit’s digestive system works, there needs to be constant mobility of food and water through their system. Read more about how a rabbit’s digestive system works here.  If a rabbit does not have a proper diet, they could experience many different health problems, including GI Stasis, which causes intestinal mobility to slow down or completely stop. This condition is very time-sensitive and life-threatening to the bunny.

Proper nutrition will not guarantee that a bunny will have perfect health, but it does play a massive role in overall health.  Here is what a rabbit’s diet should consist of:

Other Diet Considerations

As mentioned, a proper diet is essential to the overall health of the bunny, but it will not guarantee your rabbit will always be in excellent health. Other factors in the bunny’s health need to be taken into consideration.

Health Facts

So… WHY own a rabbit?

Now that we have learned about the housing, diet, and health needs of rabbits, why would someone adopt a rabbit? Why not just get a dog or a cat?  The truth is, just like there are dog people and cat people, there are just as many rabbit people!

Think Twice

If you decide that a rabbit would be the right fit for your lifestyle or family, that’s great!  Like dogs and cats, there are many different breeds of rabbits available. You can find rabbits at pet or feed stores, rabbit shows, 4H shows, from private breeders, and of course, shelters or rescues.

If you are not picky at all about the breed of rabbit you want, please think twice before buying a rabbit from a store, there are always rabbits in shelters and rescues!  Rabbits that are in store settings can get sick if they are housed incorrectly or are too stressed out by being handled all day long. As mentioned, rabbits are the third most popular pet being relinquished to shelters, so consider checking out a shelter or a rescue. Because of overpopulation and how fast rabbits will breed, usually, about 70-75% of rabbits that are taken to the shelter are adopted out. The remaining are at risk of being euthanized due to lack of space. If you adopt a rabbit, you are also saving TWO lives, the rabbit you adopted, as well as making room for another rabbit to have a chance at the shelter.

More Resources…

For more great information about rabbits, check out the House Rabbit Society website at www.rabbit.org.

Proper Housing information: “Housing Update”

Information on Rabbit-proofing your house: “Rabbit Proofing”

Proper veggies and fruits to feed bunnies: “What to Feed Your Rabbit”

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