Pros, Cons, and Misconceptions of Rabbit Ownership
What are adorable, entertaining, and a bit misunderstood? Rabbits, of course!
Rabbits can make great pets and there are many benefits to having a bun in your home, but there are also some misconceptions and considerations to think about before adding one to the family. Read on for how you can have a happy and safe bunny companion!
Benefits of rabbit ownership
- Rabbits are highly social and bond strongly with their people after they are comfortable. As with most animals, early socialization is ideal, but rabbits can also adapt to new people and environments given proper time and space.
- They are highly intelligent and trainable animals. Positive reinforcement-based training can be used to train rabbits to do simple tasks like "Sit", more complicated tricks such as jumping onto a platforn, and even agility courses!
- Rabbits are typically very quiet - no barking, whining, meowing, etc. that could upset housemates, neighbors, and landlords!
- They do not require a lot of space and you can have a lot of fun creating interesting enclosures with hidey spots, pedestals, tunnels, and unique ways of feeding them their greens. You can even save money and resources by using common household items for enrichment, like well-rinsed laundry detergent caps, cardboard boxes or rolls stuffed with hay, shredded newspaper, and plastic baby toys.
- Rabbits are vegans! Their diet consists of hay, fruits, veggies, and the occasional treat.
- Binkying is the best. Bunnies all have very different personalities and are typically very silly animals, which is best shown in the BINKY! In general, a "binky" is when a rabbit jumps and twists in the air before landing. It's considered a sign that your bun is feeling pretty great and wanting to share their joy with you!
Drawbacks/Misconceptions of Rabbit ownership
- They LOVE to chew and dig! Bunnies can be destructive if they do not get enough mental enrichment and owners should take care to bunny-proof their home to avoid chewing on wires and furniture. Our staff can help you with this, so please ask!
- Their diet is strict and must be balanced in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies and stay at a healthy weight. Just like humans, bunnies need enough fiber to keep their digestive systems running smoothly and the majority of your rabbit’s diet should consist of unlimited amounts of hay (timothy, oat, brome, prairie and meadow - AVOID alfalfa, as it is too high in calcium). A hay canister is a good way to provide unlimited access to hay without the mess!
- Bunnies need plenty of exercise and should have opportunities to do so both inside and outside their enclosure (always supervised, of course). Again, HSCC staff can help you with designing an interesting space your bun will enjoy!
- Most rabbits do not like to be picked up and are often not suitable for very young children. Contrary to common beliefs, rabbits are actually sensitive and delicate creatures who are not appropriate for children (or even older kids and adults) who have not yet learned how to handle them properly. Unfortunately, tiny hands are prone to dropping and this can be extremely dangerous to a rabbit. Unless they are used to doing so from an early age or give you indications that they are OK with being picked up, show your love with gentle pats instead of toting them around!
- Rabbits often need specialized veterinary care. While some general veterinarians are comfortable treating rabbits, many require you to see a professional who specializes in exotic pets, especially for surgeries and other procedures. Depending on where you live, this might mean traveling long distances for routine care as well as in emergency situations.
- Rabbits are not "starter" pets! This is perhaps the biggest misconception about rabbits and is one of the most common reasons why rabbits are relinquished to us. Because of their special dietary, enrichment, and medical needs, the financial costs of owning a rabbit add up quickly and the time needed to properly care for them is on par with that of cats and dogs. As mentioned above, they should not be given to young children to teach them responsibility before getting a "real pet" - all pets require time, resources, space, and a thoughtful caretaker!
Having a rabbit (or two!) in your home can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but as with all pets should be taken in consideration with your lifestyle, family members, and ability to meet their basic needs. For more information, please check out our Rabbit General Care and Husbandry info sheet and feel free to reach out to us with specific questions. Keep an eye on our Small Animals page to see who's ready to hop on into your home!