Are you really ready to buy a bunny?
There are around 1 million bunnies living in households in the UK, but not many people are aware of the kind of commitment that is required to responsibly keep these sensitive social animals.
Buying a pet rabbit is an important decision that should not be undertaken lightly. Despite what many think rabbits are by no means a ‘casual’ pet, they require consistent care, freedom, socialising and feeding in order to live happy lives.
Choosing your rabbit
Picking your rabbit is not simply a task of finding the ‘cutest’ or ‘most adorable’, it’s important to consider the breed of rabbit that you’re buying and how that might affect your involvement in its care. For example, the Cashmere Lop is a stereotypical ‘fluffy’ rabbit which has a wide appeal to young and old alike, but this long-haired variety requires regular grooming to avoid their fur matting and infections setting in.
Whichever breed of rabbit you decide on you should always buy from a certified breeder rather than a pet shop, as you can better guarantee your rabbit’s good health and well-being pre-ownership. Lastly, rabbits are very sociable creatures, so unless you’re planning on spending a great deal of contact time with your pet you should buy a companion of the opposite sex to keep it company. Getting both animals spayed and neutered should be a top priority as this will avoid medical bills and potential fatalities in the future.
Where will they live?
Traditionally rabbits have been kept outside in hutches, although this is a legitimate way of keeping these creatures it is now becoming more common to keep them in the house. Litter trays can be bought for them to defecate in, you should also create dark spaces for them to relax in during the day.
Rabbits are delicate creatures who require enough space to run and jump so that they can stay in good shape, if you do choose to keep your rabbits in a hutch then it is vital that you let them have free reign of open space for at least a few hours a day, otherwise they will soon grow depressed and lethargic.
What do bunnies eat?
A rabbit’s front teeth grow continually at up to 3mm a week, they like to chew on things to keep their teeth filed down so you should also make sure that you’ve got something to gnaw on, otherwise you might find that they get to work on your home! You can buy chew toys for them but spare bits of wood, pine cones and cardboard boxes will also do just fine.
How do you play with them?
Rabbits are naturally prey so their instincts lead them to be easily frightened. In order for you to interact and play with them you’ll need to gain their trust which takes both patience and time.
When you first purchase your rabbit it might take a few weeks for it to grow accustomed to you and its new surroundings, so you’ll need to make sure that it feels as comfortable as possible. Don’t approach it from behind and refrain from touching it unless it is actively seeking your attention. Once you’ve spent enough time together the rabbit should be relaxed enough for you to pet it.