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Friday, November 23, 2018

Pet Rabbits

     Dogs and cats are good pets, but each has its disadvantages. If you are looking for a pet that is as much fun as a puppy or kitten but not as demanding, doesn't make noise, doesn't shed and doesn't poop a lot, bunnies make wonderful pets. But, remember, rabbits live over ten ears and they are not low maintenance animals. 
     Bunnies are quiet; they make little to no noise. Rabbits have distinct personalities and they can be charming, affectionate and very interactive. Just like dogs and cats, some bunnies are rambunctious and playful, while others may be more shy and reserved. Like dogs and cats, rabbits bond closely with their owners and get to know them. They recognize them by voice and sight and will even come when called. They may even follow their owners from room to room. 
     Most rabbits don’t particularly like being held/picked up, but some will jump up on their owner's laps and even come when called. Like cats, some are aloof, some aren't. 
     Another advantage rabbits have is that they don't require much space...all they need is a couple of hours of exercise hopping around outside of their cage. They don't eat a lot, nor do the poop much...a litter pan in one corner will do. Yes, bunnies can be trained to use a litterbox, but it will take patience. They can also be trained to run an obstacle courses and to do tricks. You do it the same way as training other animals...positive reinforcement. It’s best to use treats that they only get during training though. 
     Vet bills. Rabbits. Like dogs and cats, should be spayed or neutered, so expect a vet bill. In addition, there are startup costs that can be a tad steep; actually pretty steep. A pen (dog pens are ideal), litter box, feeder and food dishes and rabbit-proofing materials for cords, etc, and you can end up spending a couple of hundred dollars. Litter, hay, vegetables and pellets can run $100 a month. Also, if the rabbit gets sick vet bills can be expensive. 
     One also needs to be aware that bunnies can be destructive! Even in a bunny-proofed your home, sometimes they can get into an off-limits area and wreak havoc by gnawing on your stuff. Rabbits are very curious and persistent and are ingenious when it comes to finding ways to gnaw on computer cables, wires, molding, couch piping, slightly frayed rug, etc. They also like to chew up paper. So, it's important to keep them from getting bored: empty toilet paper rolls, old phone books, and other paper products are a good way to keep them amused. 
     Being social animals they social interaction, plenty of exercise and a lot of enrichment activities, so can't be totally secluded although they do need a space of their own where they can go and relax. 
     Rabbits get stressed so be prepared for it when you bring one home. They don't like to travel, so you'll need a bunny sitter if you go on vacation. 
     While rabbits have a reputation for being cute and cuddly they can bite, scratch and kick. Aggressive behavior towards people can be the results of several factors. First you need to rule out health issues. Sickness is obvious, but raging hormones in rabbits that aren't spayed or neutered can also be a cause.
     Rabbits aren't exactly stupid. It's possible that they have learned that aggressive behavior gets them something they want. This is especially true if they don't like interacting with people. At some point they may have gotten scared and lashed out and the scary thing, like your hand, went away. So, the next time they tried it again and it worked again. It takes time to deal with their fear aggression and neither the rabbit nor the owner is going to like the process.
     Rabbits that are bored and frustrated tense up and that can lead to aggression. It could also be that the rabbit is fearful of people. In that case the best thing to do is sit quietly and let the rabbit investigate you. 
     Sometimes you'll run into a rabbit that is just plain mean and nothing you do will solve their aggressive behavior. In that case you can just Google “how to skin a rabbit” and “rabbit recipes.”

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