Personality: Rabbits are very cat-like when it comes to their temperament. They are typically independent, may know their name but don’t always come when called (except when they hear that treat bag!), and like attention on their terms, not yours. Of course, just like cats, every rabbit is different. Some are attention hogs, while others would be just as happy if you never petted them. One of the benefits from adopting a rabbit is that usually the rescue already knows its personality, so you don’t have to hope that pet store baby grows up to be a cuddler. They also are curious yet skittish. Their curiosity usually gets the better of them, but it may take them a while to get used to certain sounds or something new in their environment once they’ve settled in. The people who say that rabbits don’t have personality are often those that never interact with their rabbit or let it out of its cage… a bunny can’t really show you its personality if its left outside in a hutch away from the family and is only visited for a minute or two each day.
Behavior: Rabbits do three things well: chew, poop, and reproduce. Rabbits and rodents have open-rooted teeth, meaning they grow constantly throughout their entire lives. If a rabbit doesn’t have hay or toys to munch on, they’ll start to chew on other things, such as their cage bars, litterbox, or items in the home – they love baseboards and electrical cords! In the wild a rabbit is always on the move, so their digestive tract isn’t designed to have them sit around and eat big meals, but rather nibble on the go. This is why having timothy hay around for all day nibbling is important. You may also notice your rabbit digging in its litterbox or tossing its food bowl. If your bun likes to dig, you can provide it a shoebox of newspaper, or if he’s a tosser, a little plastic cup can be a lot of fun (just be sure to check for ingesting the plastic!). Your rabbit will also want to claim things, but thankfully they usually “chin” things to mark instead of spraying, just like a cat. A rabbit that is spayed or neutered is less likely to constantly want to mark things, and far less likely to spray. They are also more inclined to use a litterbox on a regular basis. This makes cleanup much easier, and you can let your bunny roam around a larger bunny-proofed area! When you first bring a bunny home or let it out into a new area, he or she is likely to put a few poops here and there, and the next time they are let out, they will go back to check to see if any other animal has “re-marked” its territory. If not, then they are unlikely to leave more poop pills behind.
Bunny Chores: On a daily basis, you’ll need to provide pellets, timothy hay, and fresh water. Scooping the litterbox (if your bun uses one) should be done daily, or a few times a week at the least. Cage cleaning should be done weekly or every other week – take out all the bedding, sanitize the litterbox, food bowls, etc. using Dawn dishsoap or a half-water/half-vinegar solution. Every week or two week you’ll want to examine your rabbit. Look for matts starting in his or her armpits and tail/belly area, and inspect the nails to see if they need trimming. If your bunny does have matts, use a matt comb or have an adult cut it out carefully. You’ll also want to check the teeth for even wear, the ears for crusts (a sign of ear mites), and the scent glands if it’s a little stinky. A weekly brushing gives you this opportunity to feel your bunny all over to find any suspicious lumps or bumps as well as bond with your bunny.
The Best Part: Owning a bunny takes just as much work as a dog or cat, but just in a different way. They still need to see a vet every year for a physical, but they don’t need vaccinations. Rabbits live up to 10 years or more, so plan on having a rabbit as a family pet for its lifetime. Just like any other pet, bunnies don’t deserve to be bounced from home to home because a family doesn’t want to make time for them anymore. Rabbits are a big responsibility for their entire lifetime, but also are very rewarding. They go crazy when they hear the treat bag crinkle, they do zig-zags and funny hops when they get excited about getting let out of the cage, and they are the cutest home decoration you can find. Once you bond with a rabbit, you’ll find there’s no other rabbit like yours.