March 15th, 2011 by admin
With Easter approaching, many people’s thoughts turn towards bunnies, who have long represented the holiday thanks to their symbolic associations of fertility, rebirth, and regeneration. This year rabbits are even more visible than at other years during this time, because the Chinese Lunar Year which began this February is officially the Year of the Rabbit.
But rabbits are more than just a symbol of rebirth to Christians or luck and longevity to the Chinese. They are also living, breathing animals with complex needs and wants. Many people want to bring home a rabbit for Easter or the Year of the Rabbit, but rabbits are not impulse items. They are smart, curious, loving, funny, pushy, and destructive, and can live ten or more years when given the right care. Good guardians know that having any animal means meeting that animal’s needs.
What is the right kind of care?
Rabbits are social animals, so they should never live alone; they should be spayed and neutered (to prevent cancers and to allow for companionship) and should have either a bunny friend or a cat or other well-mannered companion animal. They are domesticated, so they should live indoors, like a dog or a cat, and, like a cat, they can use a litter-box, making them very clean companions. They are active, so they need plenty of space to kick their feet up, to run, and to play. They are chewers and diggers, so they need lots of toys to exercise their teeth and their brains, and your house needs to be bunny-proofed so they don’t destroy your baseboards, furniture, or walls. Because of their propensity to chew, guardians should have a sense of humor and infinite patience. They are affectionate, and may show their love for you by “purring” (or grinding their teeth) or even licking your face. They are vegetarians, and should eat a high fiber diet full of hay, vegetables and greens, and a small amount of pellets. Like us, they have a sweet tooth but should not be given junk food. They are ground-dwelling creatures, and don’t love to be picked up. And because they are a prey species, they tend to hide symptoms of illness, so guardians should be on the lookout for subtle changes in behavior and personality; these could mean a trip to the veterinarian. And like any animal, they are individuals, so their own individual needs and desires should be met, for the happiness of the rabbit and human alike.
Sound like too much work, but you really want to celebrate the New Year and Easter in a traditional fashion? Toy stuffed bunnies are a great substitute if you’re not ready for the commitment of a live rabbit.
But if you think you have what it takes to be a rabbit guardian, visit rabbit.org for more information, and your local shelter or rescue group to adopt your new companion. The rabbit you rescue will thank you, and you won’t regret it!
This blog was contributed by Guest Blogger Margo DeMello – President of The House Rabbit Society.