Before adopting a pet rabbit, make sure you are committed
Posted March 29, 2018
If you’re looking for a new furry friend this spring, then a pet
rabbit may be for you.
However, Selena Zalesak, a veterinary student at the Texas
A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,
says before making that commitment, it is best to do your
“Rabbit purchases are very popular around Easter,” Zalesak said.
“However, many people aren’t aware of the time commitment rabbits
require. As a result, up to 80 percent of those Easter bunnies end
up in shelters.”
Rabbits can live seven to 12 years and are not a low-maintenance
pet. They can make fantastic companions for both humans and other
pets in the household, but rabbits require a lot of care and
love—just like any other pet.
“If you are considering a pet rabbit, you need to invest in a
large enclosure with plenty of room for shelter, a food bowl with a
hay feeder, water bottle or bowl, toys for enrichment, and a litter
box if you would like to litter train,” Zalesak said. “Rabbit cages
need to be cleaned at least once a week.
“Additionally, rabbits need to be handled regularly to build
their comfort level with people,” she said. “They require daily
time outside of the cage for exercise and bonding with your
The best rabbit cage should have a solid bottom with bedding and
be located indoors. Rabbits also appreciate multiple levels to
climb around and love to play with toys and relax in “hiding
areas,” Zalesak said.
If you’re wondering what to feed a pet rabbit, Zalesak said
rabbits don’t just eat carrots—contrary to what Bugs Bunny tells
us. Rabbits eat an array of forage, including fresh hay (which
should be available at all times), and grass.
Leafy greens such as Kale and spinach are also great for
rabbits, Zalesak said. However, watery greens such as iceberg
lettuce should be avoided, as they can cause diarrhea. Apple
slices, carrots, and broccoli make great treats for rabbits but
should be limited due to high sugar content. Additionally, rabbits
should be fed high-fiber, low-protein pellets to ensure they are
getting all their key nutrients.
Pet rabbits also need regular checkups at the veterinarian.
“Much like dogs and cats, it is important to find a veterinarian
who can see your pet rabbit and do yearly health checkups,” Zalesak
said. “This usually requires finding an exotic veterinarian, as not
all veterinarians have experience with rabbits. Rabbits need to be
spayed or neutered and may require regular teeth trimmings. Rabbits
are also susceptible to parasites, like fleas and mites, and will
need veterinary care to ensure their well-being.”
As a reminder, Zalesak said children should not be the sole
care-provider for rabbits, and young children should always be
supervised when handling their pet rabbit.
Before adopting a pet rabbit, both children and adults should be
prepared and committed to giving a rabbit a good home. Because
rabbits are the third most commonly surrendered animals to
shelters, Zalesak encourages you to consider reaching out to your
local shelter to adopt a rabbit.
Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be
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