Bunny benefits: 10 reasons to rescue a rabbit

bunny on sideWant an interactive pet that’s not as demanding as a dog? How about a bunny? Rabbits make terrific pets in the right circumstances. For people who live in small homes, don’t have very young children, and don’t want to have to walk a pet but who have time each day to let a pet out of its cage inside for an hour or two to exercise, a rabbit may be a great choice.

February is adopt-a-rescued rabbit month, so if you’re considering a new pet, here are some reasons a bunny might be best:

  1. Rabbits bond closely with their owners.

Ask any bunny owner who interacts regularly with his pet, and he’ll tell you that just like dogs or cats, bunnies bond to their owners well. They recognize them by both sight and sound and come on command. Rabbits even follow their owners around the house and jump up on their laps when called.


  1. Bunnies are generally very quiet.

If you live in an apartment or have neighbors close by, loud animal sounds can be a problem. In general, rabbits make little to no noise, so they may be perfect if your walls are thin. The fact that bunnies are so quiet is great, too, if you’re a light sleeper, and your rabbit decides he’s really a night owl.


  1. Bunnies take up much less space than most other pets.

If you live in a small home, and you’re looking for a cuddly pet that doesn’t require a lot of space, a rabbit may be right for you. As long as bunnies get a couple of hours of exercise running around outside of their cages, they can live in small cages large enough for them to stretch out in and to hold both a litter pan in one corner and a feeding area for hay and pellets in another. Rabbits also like a hiding place such as an upside box with a cut out door.


  1. Rabbits have distinct personalities.

Many people don’t realize it, but bunnies actually have very unique personalities. Some rabbits are rambunctious and mischievous, while others are shy and reclusive. If you’re selecting a pet bunny, be sure to spend time getting to know it before taking it home to be certain its personality matches yours.


  1. Rabbits are easily trained.

Rabbits can be trained not only to use a litter box, but also to run through obstacle courses and to do tricks. Using the same principles of positive reinforcement training that are commonly used to train dogs and cats, rabbit owners can train their pets to learn certain behaviors by repeatedly rewarding them with treats (such as favorite foods that they only get during training) when they perform these behaviors. With just a few minutes of training a day, rabbits can learn to retrieve items, run through mazes and obstacle courses, and jump through hoops. All it takes is a few minutes a day to have a well-trained, often quite entertaining pet!


  1. Rabbits are fairly long-lived.

Pet rabbits, when housed indoors and cared for properly, can live 8-12 years or longer. Small breed bunnies can easily live into their teens when they are well taken care of. Rabbits’ long lifespan is attractive to many people looking for small non-cat/non-dog pets, because many other small pets, such as hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, and even guinea pigs, often don’t live as long as bunnies.


  1. Rabbits come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.

There are more than 50 recognized rabbit breeds that vary both in size and in coat color, length, and texture; so there is a bunny breed for everyone. Different rabbit breeds have different temperaments. Therefore, it’s key that you chose a pet bunny based not only on appearance but also on personality.


  1. Rabbits are generally very clean pets.

Bunnies poop frequently, and if given the opportunity, they’ll go all over; however, they are generally easy to litter box train and keep themselves clean by grooming frequently. If you give them clean, dry, paper-based bedding in their cages to absorb urine and a litter box in a cage corner in which to poop, rabbits can taught to use the box.

Owners can also help keep their bunnies clean by brushing them a few times a week. Long-haired rabbits, such as the Angora, generally need daily brushing to keep their coats from matting with bedding, hay, or stool.Don’t forget to consider how much time you have to train and brush your bunny before deciding on a breed to take home.


  1. Bunnies are just so darn cute.

What’s cuter than a fuzzy little bunny? While rabbits aren’t perfect pets for everyone, for families that have time and finances (for food, housing, bedding, and veterinary care) available for a rabbit and who are willing to learn about these animals’ needs before bringing one home, a bunny can be a terrific, long-lived addition to a loving household.

10. Bunnies are easy to rescue.

There are so many abandoned bunnies in animal shelters that locating a needy rabbit is easy. Who wouldn’t feel good giving a homeless rabbit a second chance? So, if you’re considering a rabbit as a pet, don’t forget that February is adopt-a-rescued rabbit month. Do your homework first to ensure that a bunny is right for you, and then get out there and take a look. Rabbit shelters can be found in nearly every state, and the Internet is a great resource for finding one near you.


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Positively Expert: Laurie Hess

Dr. Hess is board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in avian (bird) medicine and served as the President of the Association of Avian Veterinarians from 2009-2010. She is also an active member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.


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