This is a special post by one of our readers. She wanted to share her family’s story about their pet rabbits. We hope it inspires others to consider these loving pets for their family, too. Read on to find out how and why they added a pet rabbit to their home.
Why we added a pet rabbit to our home
I grew up with the traditional pets, a dog and two cats. Our pets were part of the family and I just assumed that everyone had a dog or a cat. So, when my husband and I married, we added a dog to our home, too.
Barney was the perfect fur pal. Part beagle, he snuggled into our daily lives. When our first child was born, Barney was right there as I cared for our baby. He welcomed our second child with equal enthusiasm.
When the children went to school, Barney kept me company in my home office. He was just part of the family. We even took him on family vacations. How he loved those frolics on the Florida beach! Barney was just one of the family.
Mom, I want a pet rabbit!
So I was quite surprised when one day my daughter announced that she wanted a rabbit. Her friend had a pet rabbit and she had fallen in love with the little furry creature.
A rabbit? Did people really consider them house pets? I saw them featured at Easter each year but had not really considered them as pets. I thought the fascination might pass in time.
But Kelly persisted. Every time she visited her friend’s home, they played with Sugar, the beloved white bunny. One day, when I was picking Kelly up from her friend’s home, they brought Sugar out to show me.
Sugar hopped right up to me as if we were already friends. Her snow white coat glistened and her nose twitched as she seemed to nuzzle me. Kelly insisted I hold Sugar to see how sweet she was.
Sugar, pet rabbit advocate
As it turned out, Sugar might have been the best advocate for pet rabbits ever. She snuggled into my neck, her soft nose tickling lightly. What a sweet and gentle little fluff she was!
She was so incredibly clean that I had to ask if they had just bathed her. No, I was told. Sugar was always just clean like that. Rabbits don’t need baths.
Now Barney was a clean dog, as far as dogs go. But he always had a bit of hound smell which we had grown used to. And he did need those occasional baths. Could a pet really be just clean all the time?
Kelly just kept talking about Sugar all the way home. She insisted that she just had to have a rabbit of her own. She’d take care of it all by herself, she promised.
Sugar had already won me over. But I wanted to learn more about rabbits before adding one to our busy home.
Everything I read seemed to indicate that a rabbit might work well in our family. I was surprised to learn that they often lived as long as a dog. But Barney was getting older now. And he was part beagle, a breed known for chasing rabbits. How would he react to a bunny pal?
Should we add a pet rabbit to our family?
Although only 7 years old, Kelly knew how to chase her dreams. She had already talked with others in school and found a couple of others had pet rabbits, too. And one of those families also had two dogs. It could work, she insisted.
My husband and I decided to make a plan to try it. Barney, as a family member, had run of the house and a dog door leading to the backyard. A rabbit would need to be kept in a safe cage when not being watched. The cage could be kept in Kelly’s room, at least at first, to make sure that Barney didn’t have direct access to the rabbit when we were not home.
Locating a pet rabbit
Where does one find a rabbit to add to the family? Sugar’s family found her at a nearby pet store. They had also heard that sometimes the local shelter had rabbits that had been owner surrendered and could be adopted. We tried the shelters first. But it was September and we were advised to try again after Easter when so many Easter gifts end up in shelters. I found that very sad but decided to look further.
We visited two different pet stores in our neighborhood. Both had bunnies for sale and all looked healthy, as far as we could tell. The second store had just two rabbits left, both very small. One they said was a dwarf and had tiny little ears that pointed upward. The other had ears that went mostly downward, though the store owner told us they were considered “airplane ears” at this point as they went more out than down. He said they probably would go down as the rabbit grew. He believed both would stay small, probably around 3 pounds each. They had come from a local breeder who regularly sold his extras to the store.
One or two: How many rabbits?
Kelly once again had her plans in place. We couldn’t leave one there feeling lonely. The two did seem bonded to each other. And so we left with not one but two adorable little furry friends, an extra large cage, and all the needed supplies. The store owner gave us the name of a local vet that was good with rabbits and suggested we take them for a check up. He also advised we consider having them neutered. If any problems were found on the vet exam, the store offered a 30 day guarantee. I smiled at that. Imagine Kelly returning one of her new pets if the vet said it wasn’t healthy.
We stopped by the veterinarian’s office to make an appointment on our way home. As it turned out, they offered to see us right away.
Interestingly, the vet exam included much of the same essentials as Barney’s vet visits. After a thorough exam of both bunnies, the vet concluded that they were both in excellent health. Being new to rabbits, he offered us basic advice and encouraged us to feed them mostly hay, especially for the next couple of weeks.
In addition, we should keep them isolated from other animals for at least two weeks to ensure they are healthy And if we wanted to have them neutered, he recommended doing that soon. If we were not going to neuter them, we needed to invest in a second cage as he advised us that we had a male and a female. He explained that rabbits might breed at a very young age.
Most vets advise spaying and neutering to prevent some medical issues. Check with your vet for current recommendations. (Rabbit.org)
Imagining a rabbit version of 101 Dalmatians, we made the neutering appointment for the following week.
The first week
I’d like to say that our two new furkids fit in from the first moment. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It took a few adjustments. Where should the cage be? Who gets to feed and water them each day? How many treats should they have?
We finally set up a schedule to make sure that they received the proper care each day. That made a difference.
To my surprise, Barney seemed to think these new furkids were his little sister and brother. I guess our hunting dog lacked the rabbit-chasing instinct. Or maybe it was his age. I was happy that Barney was fine with the new additions. He didn’t play with them. But he sniffed them, then ignored them. This might work out!
We found ways to allow them to safely investigate our family room which we had already checked for anything that might harm them. I’m sure it looked strange to visitors to have our electrical cords duct-tapped to the walls, out of the bunnies’ reach. But they were safe.
It’s Surgery Day
Now named Minnie and Micky (yes, our kids are Disney fans) our new furkids headed to the vet early in the morning for their surgery appointment. I think I was more nervous than the kids. What if something went wrong?
The procedure went smoothly and the vet’s receptionist called to let me know all was well and we could pick them up after 3pm. I found myself watching the clock very closely that day.
Minnie and Micky were a little sleepy but acted like nothing had happened. Success!
4 years later…
We’ve learned a lot about pet rabbits in the past 4 years. We had a little struggle when one got into some pretzels that were left within reach. His belly-ache subsided but we were much more careful. Our vet gave us tips for preventing fleas after the rabbits had been outside in the play yard. We only saw a couple of little fleas on them but that was more than enough to warrant a call to the vet.
Would I recommend a rabbit as a family pet?
Yes, and without hesitation, as long as the family is ready to add one of these incredible pets to their family. Minnie and Mickey are more like dogs than I could have ever imagined. They walk nicely on a leash using a harness. They even come when we call them, although usually both come at once, regardless of which you are calling. Could that be due to the treats they know are being given? <smile>
Not that I would ever give up, Barney. He, too, is part of our family. But, like when a new baby is added to the family, our love for the pets extended to include our rabbits, too.
I’ll be writing again soon to explain some of the antics these two bunnies have shown through the years. And we are looking forward to many more years with our family of furkids!
To read more about keeping rabbits as pets, check out these articles.