March 6, 2017

Exotic & Pocket Pets

Is a Rabbit Right for You? Consider These 4 Factors

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

With their fluffy, cute faces and their big ears, rabbits are, no doubt, adorable. However, there are many things to consider when deciding whether or not a pet rabbit is right for your family. So how do yorabbit groupu know if a rabbit is right for your home? Consider these factors:

1. A rabbit can be shy and sensitive to loud noises

Rabbits in the wild are a prey species (other animals hunt and eat them). This makes them very sensitive to things that may be “scary” such as loud noises and sudden movements. When people grab them or try to hold them, rabbits think they have been “caught.”

2. You must handle a rabbit with care

Rabbits have very delicate skeletal systems and can easily break their legs or their backs if they are dropped. Rabbits have also been known to accidentally break their own backs after forcibly kicking their back legs (often times trying to get away from what they see as a threat). They need to be handled gently and are not good pets for strenuous or rough play. Supervise young children around rabbits to ensure the animals’ safety.

3. A rabbit can be very playful and will require attention

Although rabbits are typically shy and reserved, they still do need attention and interaction to be healthy and happy. Such interaction includes supervised time outside to explore, time to hop inside the house, and some special treats with the family. Rabbits need companionship. Rabbits that do not get enough attention or interaction may exhibit destructive chewing and other behavioral problems.

4. Your rabbit will need veterinary and wellness caredoctor holding rabbit

It is important to remember that rabbits need veterinary
and routine wellness care. Since rabbits out in the wild are a prey species, they are programmed to hide signs of illness. They want to avoid looking weak to potential predators. Routine physical examinations are needed to look for signs of health problems your rabbit may be hiding from you. Many rabbits also need to have their nails routinely trimmed.

Rabbits can be amazingly sweet pets, but they do still require care, love, and attention. Before you bring a rabbit into your home, make sure you can provide a healthy, interactive environment and proper veterinary care. After careful consideration, you may find that a rabbit is right for your family!

Dr. Aili Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.