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It is important to understand rabbit behavior.
Rabbits are the most common prey for predators in nature.
For this reason, their instincts tell them to run if something comes
after them. Do not give a young
rabbit too much freedom too soon. If
you have to chase them to catch them, it sets up a bad precedent and the rabbit
will run from the feet (that is all they see) coming after them as a means of
survival. The best way to treat a
new bunny brought home is to handle it as much as possible and for at least 20
minutes at each handling. The first
10 minutes the animal is being held it may be nervous and unresponsive, but by
the second 10 minutes, it will begin to be curious and check out the handler.
Immediately after handling, put the rabbit back in its cage.
If the rabbit is to be a family pet, I
recommend that one person be chosen to be the handler for the first few days.
If the rabbit is for a child, I recommend that introduction to the
child's playmates come after the rabbit has been accustomed to its new owner and
environment. The first few days
should be quiet days filled with gentle handling, soft talking to the bunny and
introduction of various treats in moderation.
Bonding during the first few days is the primary objective.
When first ready to give the rabbit freedom, do
so in a confined space. Try sitting
on the bathroom floor with the door closed.
Let the rabbit loose, let it run around and over you, pick it up
occasionally and put it back down. After
about a week to 10 days of the bonding period most rabbits will begin to come up
to the owner on their own and not struggle if picked up.
Although I have had some wonderful pets, which
were, does, I still prefer to recommend bucks for pets for several reasons.
Does can become moody or aggressive as they reach sexual maturity.
While most breeders have no problem dealing with this behavior, it can be
quite distressing for the pet owner. Some
does become territorial and aggressive and it is just part of their nature.
In general, does will also be more destructive around the house.
In nature they are the nest builders and so a pet doe in a home will
often be looking to build that nest out of whatever materials she can finds such
as draperies, carpeting, pillows and cushions.
While some bucks can also be destructive in the
home, I have found this trait much more common in does.
A nest building doe must be protected from herself as well.
While you may be willing to put up with destructive behavior, it is
unsafe for the animal. Fibers can
become impacted in the rabbit's stomach causing a blockage or can even be
aspirated to cause breathing problems.
Both bucks and does seem to be equally guilty
of loving to chew on electrical wires. The
best way to protect your bunny is to put PVC pipe or aquarium tubing around all
of your exposed cords.
If you are going to have a pet rabbit loose in
the house and your rabbit tends to be destructive, you will need to provide your
bunny with safe things as an outlet for this destructive behavior.
Cardboard boxes with some hay enclosed make wonderful toys for them.
They also love to rip up newspapers.
Now this is going to take a devoted pet lover because the mess will be
unbelievable and you must pick up after them.
I have always been adamant about having a cage
for a pet rabbit. A cage is a safe
place for your bunny. It gives you
a safe place to put the rabbit when you are not at home.
Also, if your bunny is fed in the cage, you will find your bunny is okay
with living in a cage. Also provide
any treats for the rabbit in the cage environment.
Many rabbits are very attached to their cages as their safe and quiet
place and are not always eager to come out.
Also if your bunny becomes sick, that cage is needed as a place to doctor
and monitor the animal's health. A
rabbit belongs in a cage when you are not around if you have cats or dogs in
your home. You may feel your dogs
and cats get along fine with rabbits, but don't make the mistake of leaving them
alone together. A dog left alone in
a house behaves differently and may decide the rabbit is a toy or a rag toy.
Not all dog attacks come about as a result of vicious dogs.
Sometimes the dogs just play too hard for a rabbit.
Even a dog just chasing a rabbit can be detrimental to the life of your
rabbit. GET A CAGE for your
rabbit's safety and your piece of mind.
You need to understand the nutritional needs of
your bunny. Too many owners want to
give their rabbits treats to the exclusion of all else.
I must stress the importance of the commercial rabbit pellets.
Treats should be just that "TREATS" given sparingly and with
love. Hay and a small treat daily will keep your rabbit healthy and
happy. Never feed treats to the
point that your rabbit gives up eating pellets.
This article was taken from an article by Linda Pett in the ARBA magazine "Domestic Rabbits". It was edited by Pat Vanecek and printed with Linda's permission.
|this page last updated 8/18/05|