"Mom," he responded "you should do your post on Rabbits".
I replied that I really didn't want to, that I'd think of something, and he pleaded with me to change my mind, that I really SHOULD do a post on rabbits, so here I am, doing a post on rabbits. :) In exchange, next week he's going to do a post on Snakes.. so stay tuned. :) One of the things I do is raise rabbits. :)
I maintain a website here, called AT Home Pets. I put a lot of work into that website trying to make it highly informative and useful for a variety of people. Not sure if I have succeeded or not, but it does draw a fair amount of the South Western Ontario rabbit traffic. :) Makes me happy. :)
So what can I tell you about rabbits?
1. NOT everyone makes for a good rabbit owner.
Believe it or not, there are some people out there who need to learn how to own the rabbit they have (and in some cases would be better suited never owning a pet). They tend to think of rabbits as being docile snuggly critters. Well .. they can be. But they can also not be. God gave them teeth and claws and powerful back legs and they most certainly know how to use them. So if you are a shy, or hesitant person, before long the rabbit says "I"M IN CHARGE!" and a rabbit that thinks that it is in charge is a rabbit that can become a terror to live with (and then people bring them to me to deal with). :) Often being handled by a confident person helps the rabbit to chill out and become the nice rabbit that it is supposed to be. :) Confident firm hands with a quiet spirit is what you want for a rabbit owner. Shy, nervous people need to develop confidence and surety when handling their rabbit.
A common error that folks make is thinking that rabbits choose to be eaters of plants and vegetation.. they don't choose to do so, it's the way they are designed. ERGO they are herbivores.. so they should eat the foods that herbivores eat NOT that of human vegetarians. So one needs to think green or woody when feeding rabbits. Thinking carrot greens, not carrots. Apple branches.. not apples. Uncooked oatmeal vs.. animal crackers or oatmeal cookies. A plain basic green pelleted feed, rather than pellets with coloured bits and pieces in it. And rapid changes in diet can be dangerous for rabbits, throwing their gut flora out of whack and potentially killing them. Mine get nothing from the cabbage family of plants as it causes some (not all) rabbits to bloat and since there is such a huge variety of greens in the world, why risk it? They eat the following fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro, sage, savoury. They eat all types of grasses: timothy, brome, twitch, lawn grass, white clover. They eat various "weeds": plantain, chicory (with the blue flowers), dandelion, queen anne's lace (without flowers), prickly lettuce, mallow and so much more. They eat my bean plants, pea plants, lettuces etc.
This summer I lost Biscuit to cancer and Triscuit to weeds sprayed with pesticide or something (at least that's my best guess as my neighbour neglected to inform until the following day that he sprayed). I saved a young doe who ate a piece of plastic because one day she looked "odd" and I couldn't see anything until I wedged open her mouth and dragged the plastic out. NOT FUN. I had a wee kit get a leg stuck (first time ever for that happening). Odd things happen when you have rabbits and you won't know you have a problem if you aren't watching them carefully. You need to watch for changes in behaviour (more quiet, less quiet), wobbliness, eye squinting, seizures, hunched over, grinding teeth, not eating and the big one --------- change in poop. If the poop changes you have problems.... smaller, larger, squisher, liquid, mucous.. any change warrants an IMMEDIATE trip to the vet. Generally speaking you have about three days to save them, sometimes less.. so sooner is better than later. :) MOST Rabbits, if fed and watered properly, won't have a problem in their life. They are made to be healthy little critters meant to be an easy food supply for a large number of carnivores. (this of course after the introduction of sin into the world).
In most climates (not all) rabbits can be raised outside 24/7. In other climates they need specialized care (for instance in the desert where they need underground caves to protect them from the heat).
MOST of the people I sell rabbits to keep them indoors. They have plastic bottomed cages, with varying amounts of freedom. Some give them whole rooms or half rooms to call their own, some give them designated time out of their cages, and some don't give them any time out. And in all those situations, if the rabbits are fed and watered and cleaned out properly, the rabbits thrive.
Interesting eh? How adaptable rabbits are? I find them simply amazing at how adaptable they are. Some folks put them on a complete herbivore diet.. not pellets, just a variety of greens, hay and branches. The rabbits are healthy. Others feed them a touch of grains, greens, and hay. Still others feed just pellets and nothing else. Some follow my regime of pellets and then a choice of hay, greens or grains.
You can buy them greens, or take the cheaper route and grow your greens or find them growing wild (mind you watch for spray). So many options and ways to provide care. It all works as long as you are mindful of the rabbits needs and health status. A diet of carrots and celery simply doesn't cut it (and I've rescued one too many rabbits raised that way).
Wire-bottomed, plastic bottomed, free range in your house with a litter box. Colony style (well made) and living alone.. so many ways to house your rabbits. Be creative.. maybe you'll convert an old dresser into a living space like one of my clients did. :) it's all good as long as the rabbit is safe.
It's called rabbitosis. :) And if you do get inflicted with such a disease.. come visit me.. I'll have a rabbit to send home with you and then you can go visit my friends over at rabbittalk.com. :) And they'll help you raise them too. :) Cheers!