5 Of The Worst Reasons To Get A Pet Rabbit
STORY: Amanda Lee
06 January 2023
They’re cute, small and fluffy. They make our hearts go “awww”. But that doesn’t mean they’re the right pet for you. And you - or your kid - might not have the right ability to take care of one. Just like with any other pet, time, money and commitment are key in giving these animals a good life. But also, there are many misconceptions about keeping a rabbit as a pet. Let’s clear that up:
Misconception #1: They just stay outdoors in a cage only what.
Outdoors? No way! Rabbits have a fur coat. Would you find yourself wearing a jacket in this Singapore climate? Rabbits will get hot and hyperventilate, which could lead to a stroke and fatal death. It is imperative that rabbits stay indoors.
And when it comes to cages, this is a bad example. Repeat, bad example:
The cages you see in pet shops? Even the biggest one is unsuitable for a rabbit, especially those with wired or mesh bases.
One rabbit needs a playpen size of at least 1.2m x 1.2m. Anything less provides insufficient space and will result in unwanted behaviour from your bunny. Imagine being quarantined... for 8 to 12 years!
The best method: Let your rabbit roam your home freely, but make sure it's bunny-proofed first. #cagefreebunny
Here's a great playpen idea:
Misconception #2: Rabbits eat carrots only right?
Thanks to Bugs Bunny, people cannot unlearn this very bad association. Carrots are high in sugar and should only be an occasional treat. In fact, my five rabbits don’t even like carrots!
A good rabbit diet consists of:
- Unlimited hay (wears down constantly growing teeth and helps digestive systems)
- Fresh water (change twice a day)
- Dark, leafy vegetables (NO iceberg lettuce)
- Only one teaspoon of good pellets (no colorful ones, please)
- Herbs (basil, oregano, plantain, lavender etc.)
- Natural chews (dandelion roots, apple/willow wood, NO coloured chew toys/sticks)
- Fruits as treats once or twice a week only (apples, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple etc.)
Misconception #3: Rabbits live 2-3 years only. Good for children to have as a first pet!
ICYMI in Misconception #1, I gave you a hint that domesticated rabbits are an 8 to 12-year commitment. Surprise!
Rabbits do not make good first pets for children.
Firstly, rabbits are very fragile creatures. If not held correctly when being picked up, they could kick and break their own back. They have powerful kicks, just like us humans on adrenaline; we exert strength we didn’t even know we had. A broken back may result in being paralysed or death.
Secondly, because rabbits are prey animals, they don’t show their weaknesses and they don’t make sounds either. Rabbit parents have to know their rabbit’s personality well enough and also be well educated on the signs of pain in rabbits to recognise when something seems off.
Signs that a pet rabbit is in pain include:
- Loss of appetite
- Odd-shaped poop
- Hunched-over posture with squinting eyes and head titled down
- Reluctance to move
- Sudden aggression
Misconception #4: Rabbits are low maintenance.
Rabbits need daily roaming time of at least an hour a day to keep their mind and legs active. If not, it could lead to various health or joint conditions like depression and arthritis.
Their playpen area requires daily cleaning with pet-safe cleaners to ensure hygienic living conditions (no smell or flies), and this helps with litter training too. Rabbits self-clean so please do not ever try to bathe them as it could lead to death. They need regular grooming (like nail-trimming and ear cleaning) which can be done by an experienced rabbit groomer.
Also, never leave your rabbit home alone when you go on holiday overseas. Find trusted rabbit boarders, not just any pet boarding. I’d be happy to recommend. (Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.) I cannot stress the importance of engaging rabbit-savvy vets, groomers and boarders enough!
So, like that called low maintenance anot?!
Misconception #5: So cute! I want to cuddle!
Unfortunately, not every rabbit will tolerate being handled and may nip, scratch or kick as a defence mechanism, although they are creatures that need lots of love and attention.
Don’t take it personally! They'd just much rather be loved from a distance sometimes. My best advice: don’t “invade” their space and certainly do not chase them. They will go into panic mode.
Pet them instead:
In short, a pet rabbit is not for everybody. Do not buy them on impulse. And please ah, parents, never buy a rabbit for your child even when they promise to be fully responsible. You will be the ones who'll end up as the main caretakers. Let’s lessen the suffering altogether – for both the rabbit and you!