Responsible Pet Rabbit Ownership: A Reminder This Easer Season
As Easter approaches, many families may be considering adding a bunny to their home as a pet. However, Struggles to Snuggles Animal Rescue aims to remind the community that rabbits are a long-term commitment that require thorough research and considerations such as time, space, and financial investment.
While rabbits can make a great addition to the family, it is a misconception that rabbits are suitable ‘starter pets’ or a way to teach children responsibility. Bunnies need as much if not more work than other pets such as cats or dogs. Also, bunnies are ‘prey’ animals causing them to be fearful of being handled or picked up. Due to their fragile nature, many bunnies sustain fatal injuries from being improperly handled.
With the proper love and care, rabbits are expected to live 10 to 12 years. Rabbits do not deserve a life sentenced to a small cage or outside in a hutch, instead incorporating rabbits as part of the family like the beloved dog or cat is so rewarding. Bunnies are attention-seeking and affectionate-filled creatures when given the chance to be. Rather than a small and expensive cage from a pet store, rabbit professionals recommend exercise pens also known as X pens. The X pen allows bunnies much more space and is a more economical alternative to a small cage.
Even with an X pen set-up, bunnies greatly benefit from a few hours daily to free-roam the home. Giving bunnies free roam requires time, training, and bunny-proofing to keep the bunny safe and the home intact. Rabbits can be litter trained, making free-roam time much cleaner. And, as part of their nature and a health benefit to their teeth, rabbits will chew. To avoid destruction within the home, rabbits should be offered healthy and safe chew toys and furniture and wires should be covered, tucked away, or blocked off from the rabbit’s path.
Contrary to marketed rabbit food in pet stores and online, a rabbit’s diet should mostly consist of hay, particularly timothy hay, and a healthy pellet. The food with bright colors consists of many fillers and seeds that are bad for rabbits. Bunnies can also have some fresh greens safe for them every day and small amounts of fruits or carrots.
Rabbit owners should prepare to provide general wellness checkups with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. Rabbits’ teeth and nails never stop growing, necessitating nail trims every six to eight weeks and annual examinations for malocclusion or dental disease to prevent serious health issues. Furthermore, healthy rabbits should undergo spay and neuter surgery to prolong their well-being, promote successful litter training, and reduce aggression and assertiveness toward other rabbits.
Bunnies are social creatures and do best in pairs. For the best results, bunnies should be introduced to one another eight weeks post-spay-or-neuter surgery following the proper bonding process.
Struggles to Snuggles Animal Rescue takes in bunnies from situations of neglect or abandonment and places them into loving homes that understand their needs. “Our goal is to educate people on how to truly care for a bunny,” stated Operations Manager Michaela Long.
Because of the misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding pet rabbits, education regarding responsible pet rabbit ownership is crucial to mitigate the number of abandoned rabbits following the Easter holiday. Unlike other animals, bunnies were not gifted with a voice. They cannot bark or meow or otherwise express their needs, and many suffer silently for most of their lives. “Struggles to Snuggles strives to be a voice for these animals so that someday the world can be a kinder, safer place for them,” explained Long.
Founded in 2020, Struggles to Snuggles set out to rescue pocket pets, the small guys, the often forgotten ones. Recently, under the leadership of Long, the rescue focuses on bunnies and is dependent on foster homes. An experienced bunny home is beneficial but not a must to foster. Rather, all that is needed to foster is patience, willingness to learn, a strong love for animals, and a safe space in the home. The rescue is also accepting fosters specializing in the care of other pocket pets like guinea pigs, mice, rats, and hamsters to expand their reach.
The rescue works with each foster home to determine that the needs of the rabbit can be met and provides resources such as an X pen, litter box, and toys. Fosters are asked to supply food, love, and attention. Vet care is covered by the rescue. To learn more or to become a foster, visit www.strugglestosnuggles.org/foster.
Struggles to Snuggles Animal Rescue recognizes that there is a need much bigger for pocket pets than they are currently able to serve. The rescue is operating at full capacity. To support the rescue, visit www.strugglestosnuggles.org.