Bunnies, so cute and cuddly, but did you know that bunnies on average live ten to twelve years?
So there are all these people running out to buy these cute pets for their kids thinking they are a two, maybe three year commitment. That it's a great way of testing out if their kids are going to be responsible enough for the major commitment of a dog or cat, except that the commitment is actually right up there with a dog.
Don't go thinking its a cheap outlay to keep a bunny either. Like a dog they require vet care, possibly council registrations or permits depending on where you live, as well as nutritionally complete foods, grooming, adequate housing and mental and physical stimulation.
I'm glad I've got your attention.
It is possibly for this reason that there are many rabbits available for adoption from shelters where their owners have been completely ignorant as to what was involved in being a bunny owner.
Many people think that because they only have one bunny or more than one that is the same gender, that there is no reason to get them desexed. Let's talk about a little thing called uterine cancer. Uterine cancer is a horrible kind of cancer that can be quite common in female bunnies. Bunnies are most at risk after three years old. There is no way other than desexing to reduce their risk. Contrary to popular belief if they have a litter it will not decrease their risk nor just because their mother/father didn't have it doesn't mean they won't as it is not hereditary. Generally if the cancer does not spread beyond the reproductive system, a full hysterectomy is the treatment however if it has spread chemo may be required or worse. Prevention is always better.Vets will usually desex bunnies once they weigh over one kilo.
Aside from that, desexing can prevent behavioural problems including aggression, humping and restlessness as they come into their teenager period at around the three to five month mark. According to an article on "Rabbits Australia" male bunnies can still reproduce up to four weeks after being desexed so be careful if you are planning to home one with another female.To desex a bunny, the starting mark is around $170 for females and $120 for males.
In Australia, it is also a good idea to have your bunny vaccinated. Some areas will be higher risk that others but its important to understand that the spread of diseases such as calicivirus and miximotosis are actually spread through a mosquito bite and not directly from bunny to bunny. Vaccinations start at around $50
When it comes to finding the right bunny house you need to look at one that has plenty of room for the bunny to stand up on their back legs. Having a least two levels so that the bunny has a toileting area and a separate bed area as they like to always go to the toilet in the same place. Provide an area where they can hide away or snuggle in and feel safe. Cages either indoor or outdoor that fit this description usually start around $100. Be aware that some of the enclosures you see online that look like the ones in the pet stores are no way near as sturdy and that bunnies like to chew so think carefully before buying a wooden one, especially if its treated wood as you could make your bunny very sick!
If your bunny is indoors you may consider litter training them. Bunnies need to have litter that is especially designed for them as they will spend quite a bit of time in there and may eat some of the contents. the crystal type litter is not safe for them, opt instead for a newspaper pellet type.This one here starts at $20
Now moving on to food. You can't just feed your bunny veggie scraps. They also need a nutritionally complete food such as specially designed pellets. Depending on the brand a large bag of pellets from the fodder store is around $20. Be aware of buying the cheaper mixes with seeds in them as they are not always suited to bunnies and may be too high energy. You will also need to provide them with unlimited hay or grass. Hay bales are usually around $3 a biscuit. A bunny would typically go through this in a few days to a week depending on what other food you are providing.If you are giving them fresh fruit and vegetables add this cost on top, typically another $10-20 a week.
Lastly bunnies need mental and physical stimulation. They are not animals you can pop in a hutch or cage and just leave there. They need to stretch their legs, run around, dig, chew and jump. Bunnies do what is called a binky. It is a jump where they kick their legs out, kind of like the "toyota jump" from the old Toyota ads back in the day. It is a sign that they are happy and comfortable in their surroundings.Obviously if they are always in a cage they can't do this. Be prepared to put in the time to exercise them and provide them with the necessary toys and activities they need.
So before you get lured in by that gorgeous little ball of fluff, ask yourself would you feel the same if it were a dog. Remember that you are committing to this darling animal emotionally and financially for life. If you can, adopt rather than shop - and if treated right, you will have a gorgeous little companion to spend your time with.