Message from the Los Angales Rabbit Foundation:
"Every year, countless rabbits suffer and die because people buy them as living toys for their children" -Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation. Please read through the below article as well as conduct your own research before choosing to adopt a pet rabbit.
What to Expect When Adopting a Rabbit
Required Supplies for adopting a Rabbit
You should have a dedicated place where your bunny will sleep and do toiletry. A reasonable size rabbit cage or hutch is recommended for keeping rabbits. If you are like me, you can also build your own cage or hutch instead of buying one from a pet store which is generally too small, in my opinion. A reasonable size rabbit enclosure is about 6 feet long by at least 2 feet wide and 2 feet high. Rabbits can be litter trained so you will need a litter box or other mechanism to help potty train your rabbit and get it to use the bathroom in the appropriate place. You will also need to have a food container and water bowl or bottle for your rabbit/bunny. My rabbits are used to drinking from a water bowl/container instead of a small-animal bottle with a metal lip. Rabbits should be fed rabbit pellets with high protein. It is also recommended to give rabbits hay and safe-to-eat vegetables.
Behavioral Expectations from A Rabbit
One of the most important things to consider when adopting a rabbit is understanding that a rabbit is not like a cat or dog. A bond of trust is more important with a rabbit since these are more shy animals. Rabbits are prey animals, meaning they are preyed upon by other animals in the natural world such as foxes, coyotes, racons, eagles, snakes, etc., and thus have a natural tendency to be more scared and alert than other common pets. For this reason, all those wanting to adopt a rabbit from AV Rabbits will be screened to ensure the rabbit will go to a good home and not be treated in a cruel way.
Due to their timid nature, you may find it difficult to bond and or interact with your rabbit than you'd have expected. Rabbits can sometimes be hard to bond with unless your rabbit learns to trust you. It will take some effort on your part including being very gentle and loving towards your rabbit, which may take time to develop but is very much possible.
Care and Precautions
Another point of concern when considering adopting a rabbit are understanding that rabbits are quite fragile creatures. Their bones are prone to get fractured if they fall or are dropped from a high enough altitude (even falling from 2 1/2 feet can cause injury to a rabbit). Fatal injuries, beyond just mere fractures, can occur from a rabbit being dropped such as the rabbit's back-breaking, which can cause paralysis where the rabbit can be paralyzed in its legs or other parts of its body. In addition, treatment can be difficult for such injuries, let alone expensive. Therefore, it's incredibly important to handle rabbits with utmost care and gentleness. This raises another point of concern when taking care of rabbits: Unlike dogs or cats, most rabbits do not like being picked up. If you do a little research, you find that you'll come to the same conclusion. Rabbits will tend to struggle and kick to try and get out of your hands, which may result in painful and bloody scratches from their sharp and powerful hind legs. Young children should especially be careful with regards to this and be supervised by a qualified adult when handling or interacting with rabbits. This is because when rabbits are usually picked up in nature, it is by a predator who wants to eat or kill them so the rabbit's instinct is to try to get out of that position as quickly as possible. However, not all domesticated rabbits have to be that way, the more you bond and socialize with them from an early age and carry them from around birth, the more likely hood that they will accept being carried around, similarly how you would with a dog or cat. Please understand, however, that these are rabbits' natural instincts, and it's not because the rabbit necessarily dislikes you, but have their own boundaries that they would rather not be crossed.
Rabbit's teeth can become overgrown due to the fact that rabbit's teeth grow continuously. Therefore it is important to allow pet domesticated rabbits to chew on appropriate material such as pinewood or other "non-toxic" materials that the rabbit can grind its teeth on. If a rabbit resides in a wooden rabbit hutch or enclosure, it may chew on the inner liner of wood within the hutch or enclosure. This is a normal and essential phenomenon that is necessary for the rabbit's dental health. I have seen cases where the teeth have overgrown to where they look like mammoth tusks. However, if you'd rather your rabbit be entertained with chewing something else, try giving them a scrap piece of wood or straw that they can chew on as well as "bunny-proofing" their environment so they don't chew on things such as furniture or wires or baseboards (Please see the video below that includes information about "rabbit proofing". Additionally, rabbits could also be given "safe to eat" vegetables, such as most famously, carrots. The green, hard part of watermelon can also be given to rabbits and they'll be happy to chew it up. However, make sure all vegetables that you do decide to give your rabbits are thoroughly washed and clean, and safe for your rabbit to eat. Rabbits could get sick too from unsanitary situations, which brings me to the next point, rabbit diseases and illnesses.
Diseases and Illnesses, and RHDV2
Like humans and other animals, rabbits are prone to becoming ill from contracting certain diseases. One of them is GI stasis where the digestive tract of the rabbit becomes blocked and its abdomen becomes bloated. A bloated abdomen where the rabbit's belly looks blown up like a balloon can be a clear sign that a rabbit is suffering from GI stasis as well as demonstrating lethargy and producing little to no stool. Coccidia is another frequent health risk for rabbits which is a case often caused by poor sanitation and hygiene where protozoan parasites of coccidia inhabit/disease a rabbit's intestinal tract and can cause the liver to be infected as well, according to Dr. Laurie Hess and Rick Axelson from DRC animal hospital. Rabbits are coprophagic animals, meaning they eat their own fecal matter (poop), this can cause coccidia infection from ingesting the dung of infected rabbits. Prevention through sanitary and cleaning their environments is best.
One of the most important points of rabbit health concern is Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 which affects both wild and domesticated rabbits, and this virus which has been said to have originated from Europe has made its way to several states in the U.S. including Californian. It has also been detected in LA county and in Palmdale as well. Therefore it is imperative to take protective measures to keep your rabbits safe if you choose to adopt. Such protective measures include but are not limited to: keeping your rabbits indoors whenever possible (if keeping rabbits in a rabbit hutch outside, make sure it is raised at least three feet off the ground, as recommended by the California Department of Food and Agriculture), washing your hands frequently, taking measures to keep predatory and aerial animals away from your rabbits that could possibly carry the disease, and washing your pet's paws after taking them on walks such as dogs and keeping outdoor shoes away from rabbits as well to reduce the chances of transition of RHDV2. If you take preventative measures, then you shouldn't be too overwhelmed or worried. Just as we are much encouraged to take caution with the COVID-19 pandemic, the same also should apply to the RHDV2 as well. Vaccines are available for the RHDV2 virus in certain veterinarians in California and near the AV and LA regions. Please see the below document for more on how to keep rabbits safe from RHDV2. There are several other health issues and risks to look out for when considering or having a rabbit as a pet. Therefore it is encouraged to research and look into other possible health factors and risks when considering to adopt a pet rabbit. For more info in RHDV2 and vaccination options, please visit the Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation page: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2.
Rabbits can demonstrate undesired behavior and or excessive breeding patterns when not spayed or neutered. Such behavior can include urinating in places of their environment as a way of marking their territory and they can become territorial and male rabbits may have a tendency to fight with other male rabbits when they are near the age of four months. Rabbits can also be very hormonal animals with a strong instinct to "breed", which doesn't help the overpopulation crisis in the U.S. Overall when considering adopting a pet rabbit, it's better to get it spayed/neutered as it helps to eliminate behavioral issues and to avoid unexpected litters.
Please contact Actors and Others for Animals for help with spay/neuter for rabbits, their phone number is 818-755-6045. The City of Los Angeles offers free or reduced spay/neuter vouchers for LA City residents. That form can be found here. Please visit www.larabbits.org/spayneuter for more info.
Why Breeding Rabbits is not a Good Idea?
I do not recommend breeding rabbits primarily because it gives a disadvantage to rabbits in the shelters who have to compete with breeders in order to get adopted to a better home. Marshmallow is a great example because although his parents weren't intentionally bred, I have been trying to rehome him ever since he was a little bunny. In my case, most of my rabbits were all "oopsies". I can also speak from experience as I have been caring for rabbits for several years, more rabbits almost certainly means the need for more housing, which can be the most difficult and costly part if not the vet bills. I had to build extra hutches and install spacers to accommodate my rabbit population. So in short, I do not recommend breeding rabbits with the intention of having more bunnies as pets. It gives an unfair disadvantage to the many rabbits in the shelters across LA county and beyond if you are going to eventually sell or give your bunnies away. Also, they don't stay little for long since they grow quite fast. What were once little bunny siblings will grow up to fight one another and become more difficult to handle. I have had some painful scratches on my arms, hands, and neck from juvenile rabbit scratches, they don't come as close to a cat's scratch. Please note that I don't say that rabbit breeding should be entirely avoided. However, I believe it is unethical for the wrong purpose, such as to get more pets when there are plenty of other rabbits that are up to date on all their vet shots and neutered yet still living in shelters, some that die in that state.
In addition to the above information, please also watch this video on keeping rabbits in houses and rabbit proofing. (This video was found on YouTube and believed to be helpful in this context. I am not the creator of this video.)