By Dr. Parker T. Barker and Prof. Percy Pussycat
Hi everybody. It’s Easter Time and Professor Percy and I know that a lot of families think it would be a great idea to get a bunny or two for the family. They are really cute especially if they have that iconic little white tail. And they are funny when they hop around. And they are really soft. Don’t do it! Bunnies do make wonderful pets. That goes without saying but getting one just because it fits in with the holiday isn’t a good idea. Seriously, would you get a reindeer for the kids just because it was Christmas? We thought not.
But bunnies should be included in Easter festivities so we suggest rather than getting a living, breathing bunny, go for the chocolate bunnies. They come in many sizes, shapes and colors and you won’t have to take care of them for 10 +/- years which is the average lifespan of a real bunny. Chocolate bunnies, bunny cakes and cookies, pictures of bunnies on your eggs, fake bunny ears, paper bunny feet leading you to your hidden basket. There are lots of ways to incorporate bunnies into the Easter celebration without bringing a live one home.
But Ol’ Percy and I know that you will probably ignore our good advice so if you are dead set on getting a bunny, think about adopting rather than just buying one from a pet store. Find a rabbit rescue in your town and give a bunny that is I tough straits, a chance at their furever home. They should be part of the family just the same way your cats and dogs are. Here are some tips on keeping your new bunny healthy and happy for the 10 years you have him…
1. The first thing you have to do is decide where your rabbit will live. Rabbits can live in cages, exercise pens (like puppy pens), or allowed to free-range in your home (as long as your home is bunny-proofed).
Provide your bunny with a safe area as his or her “home base”. A home base is a place for just your rabbit where it can relax and go to when it wants some alone time. A home base can be a cage, or if your rabbit lives in an exercise pen, a cardboard box with two entrances cut into it.
Never bother your rabbit while it is in its home base, and don’t take it out of its home base – let it come out on its own. Provide a cover for their home base, as bunnies feel safe hiding under things.
The more time the rabbit spends in the home you make for it, the bigger it should be. Larger rabbits obviously need bigger homes. A rabbit home should allow the rabbit to run around and jump. The rule of thumb is that a bunny’s cage is big enough for him/her to hop across 4 times, and tall enough to stand on its hind legs.
2. Provide your bunny with a correct diet. Your rabbit should receive unlimited timothy hay, a variety of fresh vegetables, and plenty of water. Hay is a large part of your rabbit’s diet and should be available at all times. Alfalfa is only recommended for rabbits younger than seven months; timothy or grass hays are better.
Fresh vegetables should be provided regularly with their food… Vegetables you can feed your rabbit include the green part of carrots, romaine lettuce (not iceberg), broccoli, asparagus, and flat-leaf (Italian) parsley.
Water should be clean and plentiful and changed each day.
3. Allow your rabbit to get plenty of exercise. Allowing them to roam free in a rabbit-proofed room during the day works very well if you have litter box trained your rabbit. Make toys available for chewing, exploring, and other appropriate toys to keep the rabbit occupied.
4. Take your rabbit to the vet. Do some research first as not all vets are experienced at treating rabbits. And get your rabbit fixed. In addition, both sexes will mark their territory with urine if not fixed. Yuck!
Knowing how to care for your bunny properly is the best gift you can give them. Do the research so you are well informed.
Happy Bunnies Everybody!
Dr. Parker T. Barker received his doctorate in Squirrel Chasing and Hoovering from the University of Hartford, CT Rescue Center. He lives on Lady’s Island with his sister, Peanut and their great Mom. Prof. Percy Pussycat is a trained animal behaviourist and received his degree from the Canine and Cat Institute in London. He lives in Shell Point with his brother, Harley and devoted human family.