Rabbits have always been popular in pet trade, especially with children. They never fail to amuse the little ones with their cute and cuddly looks, and behavior. However, the most important aspect to keep in mind while keeping these animals as pets is that they are physically too delicate to be handled roughly or impatiently. When these creatures feel frightened, they exhibit defensive behavior by biting, scratching, or running away. That is the reason most people comment that the choice of rabbits may not fit the bill when it comes to kids, and particularly small kids. However, some people still take up the commitment of raising these animals as pets, and help their kids understand the importance of caring for another life, and understanding its needs.
Things to Remember before Bringing A Rabbit Home
# The first thing which cannot be ignored when bringing a rabbit home is to look for obvious signs of illness or other issues. And if you find any rabbit showing any abnormal signs, then you may inform the dealer about it so that it can be treated as soon as earlier.
# The cage that you choose for keeping rabbits must be spacious, easy to clean, and should provide ease for the animal to go in and out. These animals love jumping, running and twisting in the air. So keeping them in small cages may not be a good idea.
# When it comes to bedding, most hobbyists recommend to go with wood shavings. You can cover the shavings with hay and straw; they are good for insulation. However, instead of shavings, some people prefer getting shredded paper. Do not use sawdust, as inhaling it might interfere with the breathing of the animal, and may irritate the nose and eyes. Also, avoid old, or musty hay. If you want to go for ready-made bedding, then CareFRESH would make a good choice.
# Rabbits are known for being social. They prefer the companionship of humans or other animals as well. They require proper attention, and according to how they like it. This is necessary for their mental well-being. So, supervising your kids while they are around the pet is an important part of caring for rabbits. Also, like any other pets, these delicate creatures require exercise and some 'social time out of their cages'.
# Keeping rabbits as indoor pets include getting the animal familiar with all the family members. If you have any other pets at home such as a dog or a cat, then they must also be properly introduced with the new member of the family.
# Good quality pellets, fresh grass hay, fresh vegetables and clean water make for a perfectly healthy diet for rabbits. Pellets are required by the animals in their early stages of growth. Gradually as they mature, their diet should consist more of hay and vegetables, and less of pellets. Young rabbits should be fed with alfalfa hay, and older ones should be given grass hay. Fresh hay makes up for the amount of roughage which is needed for prevention of hairballs and other intestinal blockages in the animal.
# Vegetables, as always, are the most important part of the diet for humans, and for animals as well. Providing rabbits with dark leafy vegetables, root vegetables and vegetables of different colors, does great for the well-being of the pet. It is also a good practice to introduce vegetables one at a time. You can offer alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts, basil, beet greens (the top part), bok choy, collard greens, dandelion greens (no pesticides), endive, escarole mint, mustard greens, parsley, peppermint leaves, spinach, watercress, wheat grass, and of course their very favorite, carrots! The water provided to the pet must be changed daily, and the container of the water must be sanitized with a mild detergent on a weekly basis.
Facts on Rabbit Care
Here are some quick facts about rabbits; might come in handy while caring for them.
# Rabbits take some time to get used to their new surrounding and new companions. They are not overly receptive to human attention, and so the family members need to spend some time to build their trust.
# The idea of keeping rabbits as outdoor pets is something that is not very pleasant, considering the physical characteristics of these animals. Rabbits are different from their wild cousins. Unlike the wild ones, the domesticated rabbits cannot withstand extreme temperature, and they do not possess the ability to counter the attack of any other animal.
# Dogs bark, cats mew and rabbits chew. Chewing is the natural trait of these animals. It helps them to keep their front incisors worn down as they keep growing continuously. Also, chewing seems to keep them at peace. Offer them untreated wood blocks or cardboard sheets which are smooth and not sharp, or too soft to be swallowed. Bowls, balls, rings made of willow wood, and paper toilet rolls are also enjoyed by these animals to chew on. All such stuffs may also serve as fun toys, and keep your pet physically active. Lack of playing or exercise may make your pet destructive or even depressed and overweight. Moreover, if your rabbit has nothing to play with or chew on, it may turn to your furniture, carpet, books, electrical wires, etc.
# Grooming your rabbit is also one of the important duties you need to fulfill as a pet owner. Experts recommend using bristle brushes given the fragile skin of the animal. Notice when and how often your pet sheds. The more it sheds, the frequent should you brush it. Also, the grooming depends upon your pet's breed. For a short haired one, weekly brushing is good enough, and for one that has long hair, daily combing is a must. Although, an important part of grooming is bathing, it is otherwise in case of rabbits. They do not require bathing, as they find it stressful. What you can do is clean your pet locally, if at all necessary. Also, do not forget to keep its nails trim and tidy.
# House rabbits live up to 9 - 12 years when kept with proper care and attention. On the other hand, the ones which are neglected and left at backyard hutches, have less than half the average lifespan of indoor rabbits.
# If you are thinking of bringing home wild rabbits as pets, it would be wiser to drop the idea! This is because, these animals find it hard to become docile like their domesticated cousins. Even if they are made to, it will affect their health and ultimately shorten their lifespan. Wild rabbits prefer living where they belong; in the wild. Moreover, it is illegal to own a wild animal.
# Small rabbits are very cute and adorable and they weigh under 2.5 kg when they are fully grown. Extra care has to be taken to raise them. Some of the small rabbit breeds are Netherland Dwarf, Lion Head, Lion Head Lop, Mini Lop, Mini Rex and Dutch.
# The most difficult part in keeping rabbits as pets, is caring for their juveniles. However, if the mother rabbit does her bit, the task seems to be dauntless. Making a comfortable nest for a baby rabbit is the first thing that should be taken care of. You can consult a qualified vet for important instructions regarding the feeding of the juveniles. Another important fact about these animals is that baby rabbits are able to open their eyes after about 10 days, and if they don't, then they should be taken to a vet. Keeping a check on the mother rabbit's effort in looking after her young ones, takes care of the bringing up of the bunnies.
This was about the various requirements that should be a part of taking care of rabbits as pets for kids. Before you make up your mind for introducing a rabbit to your family, it would be wise to keep all this information, handy. After all, if you are bringing a rabbit home, you are the sole person responsible to see to it that your pet is 'feeling at home' with its new surrounding, and starting to become an important member of your family.