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Few things are more irresistible than the soft fur, gentle eyes and twitching nose of a bunny. Do you think you know all you need to about rabbits? Take this short quiz before you let one hop into your home.
1. True or False: The best place to get a new rabbit is a pet store. False. Although rabbits can be found in a variety of places, the best source is a shelter or rescue organization. There are thousands of adoptable rabbits in shelters throughout the country. Rabbit rescuers are more likely to ensure that you take home the right breed and personality for your household. Also, these rabbits are usually already spayed or neutered. If you do purchase a rabbit from a breeder or pet store, visit first to ensure that the rabbit was raised in a clean, social environment.
2. True or False: All Rabbits love to be picked up and cuddled. False. Although different breeds have different personalities, most rabbits are social animals that enjoy being near people. However, not all rabbits like being picked up and cuddled, especially by strangers. Rabbits should never be picked up by the ears, as this type of restraint can seriously hurt them. Some rabbits will scratch or bite if they feel threatened. Most rabbits are much more content sitting on your lap or next to you. Some rabbits may enjoy being held if they are comfortable with and know the individual holding them. Baby rabbits are very playful, active and chew everything in sight. In fact, they’re much more destructive than most adult rabbits. Playtime outside the cage is a daily requirement for rabbits of all ages, and safe wooden or hay chew toys should always be provided.
3. True or False: Rabbits don’t need a lot of space. False. The number of rabbits you intend to own should play a role in the size of the housing space you provide. There should be enough room for each rabbit to have a nesting box in which to sleep and still have enough room to run around. Generally speaking, the cage should be made of non-galvanized wire. It’s easier to clean than wood, and rabbits are less likely to chew on the bars. The cage floor may be made of wire to enable stool and urine to fall away onto a tray beneath the cage floor, out of contact with the rabbit’s feet; yet, there should be an area of solid footing (made of plastic or wood) on which the rabbit can sit, so he is not in constant contact with the wire floor, which can potentially lead to pressure sores on the bottom of the feet.
4. True or False: Rabbits only eat carrots and lettuce. False. Like their owners, rabbits require a balanced diet, including a mix of vitamins, minerals and protein. A balanced bunny diet should consist of a small amount of pellets, fresh vegetables and an unlimited constant supply of hay and fresh water.
5. True or False: Rabbits can be trained to use a litterbox. True. With some simple guidance and a watchful eye, pet rabbits can be taught to use a litterbox. This is especially true for rabbits that have been spayed or neutered.
6. True or False: Rabbits are happiest when kept outside. False. Rabbits fare best when they are kept indoors, as a member of the family. The domesticated rabbits that are kept as pets are actually a different species from the wild rabbits that live outside. While a pet rabbit can survive outdoors if the temperature is not excessively high or low, rabbits housed in outdoor hutches should be provided with extra protection or brought inside if temperatures drop below freezing or get very hot. Rabbits should never be allowed to run free outdoors. An unprotected pet rabbit is at risk from local predators, including dogs, cats and prey birds. They are also exposed to disease and infection and could die from eating poisonous plants.
7. True or False: Rabbits need regular veterinary care. True. Besides helping you decide which breed of rabbit is best for your family, a rabbit-savvy veterinarian will help to detect small problems with your pet rabbit before they become big problems. Companion rabbits should also be spayed or neutered to avoid a variety of undesirable behaviors, such as spraying and nesting, and to prevent uterine cancer, which can occur in up to 80 percent of unspayed females after age three.
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