By: Laura Gibbs, Humane Pennsylvania Customer Care Representative
February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month. At Humane Pennsylvania, we’re excited to shine the spotlight on these fuzzy little friends!
Rabbits have been in our lives since the 5th century, when these adorable creatures won the hearts of humans and were domesticated to be pets. Did you know rabbits are currently the second-most popular pet, after goldfish? And according to insider.com*, other than cats and dogs, rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the U.S. — second only to goldfish. It’s no wonder these critters get a whole month dedicated to finding their forever homes.
Aside from cats and dogs, rabbits are the animal we most see being surrendered. And they’re typically surrendered for the same reasons — a lack of space, the children lost interest in them, or they’re too much work.
I had rabbits when I was growing up. They had a hutch outside, and to be honest, I didn’t do much with them. And I never saw myself as a rabbit person. Until recently, that is. I am now getting close to the end of my adventure with a mama rabbit who had been abandoned. When I brought her into my home, I ended up being blessed with a total of seven very happy bunnies, each of which changed my outlook on rabbits.
Mama bun and her babies’ daddy were abandoned at the end of October. I took mom home for a pregnancy watch and, sure enough, a couple weeks later she gave birth to six healthy buns. I still have mom at home while waiting to get her spayed, but the babies are back and ready for adoption!
In my opinion, rabbits are the perfect blend of cat and dog — in a truly awesome, cuddly package. These small creatures bond with their people, just like cats and dogs do. And they love playing with toys. Chew toys, batting toys, hanging toys, crinkly toys, puzzle toys, cardboard boxes, things they can jump on or climb onto or dig in — all are AMAZING in the eyes of a bun. You can teach them anything you can teach a dog: sit, stay, jumping through hoops, jump up, etc. There’s simply no end to what you can fill their little heads with.
The big thing to remember when bringing home a bun is space. Rabbits’ personalities flourish when they’re allowed to free roam in a rabbit-proofed room or area, or even the whole house. When they’re able to free roam, they have plenty of space to be as happy as they can be. And rabbits do a special little thing all their own when they’re happy — it’s called binkying.
Basically, binkying is a bunny happy dance where they jump up and twist around in the air, sometimes in both directions, before they land. Imagine being so incredibly happy that the only thing you can do is jump as high as you can and wiggle your entire body while in the air — which can be more than a little challenging to do in a cramped rabbit cage. If you’ve never seen a rabbit binky, you are missing out on one of life’s most adorable animal-related activities.
Now, I know you are probably thinking, “But what about all the poop? I can’t have a rabbit free roam with all that poop!” There’s a very simple solution. Remember I mentioned all those super cool things you can teach your bunny? Well, one of those things is litter training! That’s right, you can teach your bun to use a litterbox just like you would a feline friend. Amazing, right?
And with plenty of toys and encouragement, you can even teach your bun what is and isn’t appropriate to chew on. Like I said, they’re the perfect blend of cat and dog.
You do have to keep in mind, however, that owning a rabbit (just like any other pet) isn’t always all fun and games. You need to be prepared for the inevitable vet bills, and establishing a relationship with an exotics vet will ease some of your worries if an emergency should one day occur.
Rabbits should also be spayed or neutered, even if you plan on only housing one bunny. There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your rabbit, which makes it almost silly not to. Like cats, rabbits tend to spray when they are not sterilized, and unaltered rabbits can be a little testy. Altered rabbits are less destructive (with chewing and digging), and female rabbits that aren’t spayed have an 85% chance of developing reproductive cancers. Rabbits can live up to 10 years, and wouldn’t you want your bun to live as happily and be as healthy as they can?
I hope I’ve convinced you that rabbits are pretty amazing creatures and make wonderful pets. Both Humane Pennsylvania adoption centers are almost always overflowing with buns, so be sure to skip the pet store and celebrate Adopt a Rabbit month with us!
To adopt a shelter critter today, please visit humanepa.org!