With Easter just a couple of weeks away, store's shelves are stocked with adorable bunny-themed home decor, and I could not be more excited. As many of you know, I am obsessed with #interiordesign and #homedecor (and of course #bunnies), so it probably isn't surprising I normally look forward to Easter. My favorite Easter "tradition" consists of spending way too much time online shopping for the perfect bunny-related home accents I can use year round.
As much as I enjoy the Easter sales and having a holiday that feels like it is revolved around bunnies, I have come to dread what post-Easter means for rabbits who were given as gifts. The majority of bunnies bought for Easter are abandoned or die within the first six weeks. I don't think the people who buy bunnies for Easter and abandon or give them away shortly after, fully understood the responsibility and time that goes into having a rabbit prior to buying one. I think it is hard for people to grasp that such a quiet, small animal requires so much attention, work and space; not to mention is, on average, a 10 to 12 year commitment.
That being said, with Easter coming up, I thought it was important to do a post on everything that goes into having two rabbits, and, let me tell you, it is not easy! Don't be fooled by their cute, fluffy faces, they are a lot of work and by no means are they a low-maintenance pet. That being said, I today's post is dedicated to the work, time and expenses that go into having a rabbit. I know a lot of my readers are bunny owners themselves, but I hope those of you who already have rabbits will still enjoy reading and will comment with some stories of your own!
People are always surprised when I tell them having bunnies requires a lot of hard work and time. They might not have to be taken outside or on walks like a dog, but they still need lots of attention, time and space to run. The time and work begins before you even have your bunny by making your home rabbit friendly. This includes making sure cords and other similar items they may want to chew on are completely out of reach especially since they should be hopping around your home and not in a cage; bunnies aren't meant to be in a cage 24/7 . Once litter trained, most rabbits are able to free roam just like a dog or cat. It definitely takes time and patience to get to this point, but it is so worth it. Moose became completely free roam about four or five months after we got him. We slowly worked our way up to this and eventually he was never locked in his cage or in a gated area again. We had Moose for seven months before getting Hippo, so he was already neutered, litter-trained and free-roaming by the time we got Hippo.
Hippo started free-roaming much quicker than Moose did mainly just because he turned into a little psycho inside his cage, so we had to speed up the process as much as possible. He would pull and chew on the side bars of the cage so hard the whole cage would shake. There were times I literally thought he was going to bring the whole cage down! He would also poop EVERYWHERE in his cage but his litter box. Even though, he would use his litter box when not in his cage, so he was just doing it out of pure anger. He would be out of his cage all day and then when we would put him in the cage at night, he would completely lose his shit (no pun intended) even after being out all day. It is a good example of why rabbits are not meant to be in cages. They are so much happier and, in my opinion, also better behaved when they have the space they need.
Not only is it time-consuming training them, but you need to take time to give them the attention they desperately need. Moose wants to be pet all the time and Hippo needs to be near you and know where you are at all times. Rabbits become bonded and extremely attached to their owners. My last rabbit, Bear, who I had for almost 10 years would follow me everywhere. I am not kidding, I could walk up and down the stairs five times and he would be right there by my side going up and down with me until I stopped. It was the sweetest thing in the world, but it also broke my heart anytime I had to leave him. There is nothing worse than leaving your home and having your bunny run after you and sit by the door waiting for you to come back. When Moose was a baby, one of the only times he would pee outside of his litter box is when we left and he was upset about it. He would get so upset that he'd pee right by our front door. He would do this even if we spent all day with him. It broke my heart!
In addition to being time-consuming and requiring lots of attention, bunnies are also expensive. Although buying a rabbit itself may only throw you back $30 to $100, don't be misled by this price tag. As my fellow bunny owners know, buying your bunny is the cheap part, but the expenses climb from there. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits have to be taken to a veterinarian regularly; this is not cheap. For a lot of people, it is difficult to find a veterinarian who works with rabbits since they are considered exotic pets and not all vets have experience working on them. It is so important to find a vet you trust and feel comfortable with. We are super fortunate that one of the one of the best vets in the Twin Cities, and who luckily works with rabbits, happens to be less than two blocks from our home. I know some people have to drive hours to get to the nearest vet who works with rabbits. The cost for neutering rabbits varies based on location and vet, but ours charges $125 for neutering. This may not sound so bad, but this doesn't account for all the other vet visits for various issues.
Over this past Christmas, we noticed Moose had what looked like cuts on either side of his mouth. Unfortunately, our vet was out of town for a month, so I had to track down another clinic that had a vet who would see rabbits. This vet told us these types of cuts on a rabbit's mouth are generally from chewing on cords or something similar. I knew it wasn't cords because we don't have any cords accessible to Moose and Hippo, so at the time I was baffled at what it could be from. I walked out of that appointment with no idea how Moose got these cuts on his mouth and a $135 bill (more than it cost to neuter him). This included antibacterial wipes for cleaning his mouth and two oral medications: one for pain and one to help heal the cuts.
My boyfriend and I later figured out the cuts on Moose's mouth had been from chewing on the plastic sides of what was Hippo's cage at the time; thankfully, we are able to just get rid of the cage since we hadn't even been using it. It helps my boyfriend and I share all costs for our bunnies, but it definitely still sucks to go in for what you think is a cheap vet visit to have it cost more than a hundred dollars. Bunnies seem like relatively cheap pets, but between vet bills, litter, toys, hay, fresh food and pellets, it can add up quickly.
Based on my personal experience, we spend a good portion of money (not to mention time) buying fresh vegetables from the grocery store several times a week. For my non-bunny owners, rabbit's diets should consist primarily of hay and fresh vegetables. Unlimited water and hay should always be available for your rabbit while fresh vegetables should be given to them twice a day. We feed Moose and Hippo a variety of veggies; this includes, but is not limited to, cilantro, basil, romaine lettuce, parsley and kale. It is important that bunnies' diets include a variety of healthy, safe vegetables and very little sweets.
People are always shocked when I say I rarely feed them carrots. When people think of bunnies, they think of carrots. When did that association start, by the way? Do we blame Bugs Bunny for this? When I was younger, I used to think that was all rabbits ate, too! Before getting a bunny though, I learned carrots are super high in sugar and should only be given as a treat every once in awhile. Moose and Hippo enjoy a small piece of carrot, apple or banana three or four times a week. *For more information on diet & food restrictions please visit my "Diet" page and House Rabbit Society.
As you probably figured, all these fresh vegetables means lots of grocery shopping. I seriously don't know what I would do without my boyfriend; he goes to the grocery store probably two to three times a week to get fresh food for Moose and Hippo. It is hard to buy all the veggies in bulk since it goes bad so quickly. We have containers meant to preserve them longer, but even with these, the cilantro and parsley still seem to go bad within a week. *Side note, please comment if you have any suggestions for how to get fresh food to last longer.* Overall, there is a lot that goes into making sure you have a healthy, well-fed rabbit, and it is definitely not as simple as just giving them a scoop of pellets.
Despite all the work, time and money that goes into having rabbits, I couldn't imagine life without them. If you are prepared for the responsibility, they are rewarding, wonderful pets. Anyone thinking of buying a rabbit, please remember it is important to do your research first just like you would do with any other important decision or purchase you are going to make. Please don't count this post or my blog as sufficient research. I am sharing my personal stories and what I have learned along the way and continue to learn. #makeminechocolate #notjustforeaster
Please visit House Rabbit Society for detailed information on raising rabbits.