These last years rabbits are becoming more popular as pets. We all love seeing these fluffy, cute beings, right? Bunnies are the third most popular pet in the United States and U.K. but there are still a lot of old, wrong beliefs about who they are. They are animals with the unique personalities and behavior who are much more than what they might seem. Therefore, here is the list of the things we got wrong about rabbits.
1. Rabbits are rodents
Contrary to the popular belief, rabbits are lagomorphs. They are a part of the Leporidae family within the Lagomorpha order. The type of rabbit that is kept as a pet is the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Common thing between lagomorphs and rodents is that they both have a set of continuously growing incisors. Regarding differences, lagomorphs have two pairs of upper incisors and short tails, rodents have one pair of upper incisors and long tails. Unlike herbivore lagomorphs, many rodents also eat meat.
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2. Rabbits are shy and unsociable
Rabbits are very sociable animals, which need companions. They can get bored or depressed if they are left alone, which is why many owners decide to take rabbits in pairs. Some rabbits are comfortable with new owners from the beginning; others need some time to trust and like them. The main point of the bunny bonding is to have patience. Once they get used to the owners, bunnies will ask for their attention themselves.
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3. Rabbits need baths
Rabbits clean themselves just like cats do. The only time they may need the assistance is when they are disabled so they can’t reach their genitals area. In such case, the recommendation is to use a wet cloth and wipe the dirty areas or do a small wash of those areas only. Being in water is not a natural situation for rabbits and it can be very traumatic for them. They can fall into shock and die from the trauma. There is a risk of hypothermia or respiratory infection.Bathing is removing natural oils from their fur and those oils are essential because they keep the fur in the good condition.
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4. Rabbits lying on their back are relaxed
Putting rabbit on its back can cause the “bunny trance”, which is very stressful and dangerous. Bunny trance is actually the “Tonic Immobility” state. It is rabbits’ defense mechanism that activates when they are in extreme terror. Rabbits are pray animals, so whenever they feel in great danger they will activate this mechanism. In this state they pretend to be dead so they could eventually escape from predators. When rabbits exit the trance they twist quickly, which may cause bunny to break the spine.
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5. Rabbits don’t communicate
Bunnies communicate by using certain sounds and the body language. When they feel extreme fear, they can scream. Growl is a sign of annoyance. Rabbit equivalent of happy cat purring is “teeth purr”, also called chattering teeth.Rabbit’s happiness and comfort is expressed by bunny dance, which is called binky. When rabbits are relaxed they flop on the ground. Scared bunnies thump their feet on the ground. And if bunny starts licking you it may be the ultimate sign of affection. It can also mean that he wants to clean you.
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6. Rabbits pee and poo everywhere
Bunnies can be litter trained. Since it’s in their nature to leave their drops and urine in one place, with the right training rabbit can learn to use a litter box to do these things. Neutering is the most important factor in litter training. Rabbits tend to mark the territory because of their active hormones that start developing between 4-6 months. After neutering, not only they can be healthier and calmer, but there is also a bigger chance that they are going to use the litter box.
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7. Rabbits are cheap pets to keep
Even though they are small and look like “easy pets”, taking care of rabbits can be very expensive. Bunnies are animals who love to run and explore, so they need a lot of free space. There are several options for rabbit owners. Some allow rabbits to free roam around their home. Others dedicate one part of the house to rabbit and turn it into a space they can use. If a cage is the only possible option, it should be at least 6'x2' size. Rabbits’ necessary equipment includes water bottle, hay rack, litter box and toys.Vet expense for the regular checkups and treatments is expensive since rabbit vet service can cost up to several thousands of dollars.
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8. Rabbits eat mostly cabbage and carrots
Rabbits are herbivores. Their diet should be natural, high in fiber. That means that around 80% of their daily diet should be hay. Rabbits can eat many vegetables, fruits and some of the plants. Carrots are allowed only in small amounts and occasionally, because they are high in sugar. Too much cabbage can cause digestive problems. So cabbage is recommended as a treat only, in small amounts and not too often.
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9. Rabbits don’t need to be neutered
Non neutered rabbit can develop serious health issues, compared to the neutered rabbit. For example, female, non neutered rabbit may develop the uterine cancer by the age of five. There is a risk of developing other reproductive cancers in rabbits. Other factor to consider is avoiding unwanted pregnancies. Females can have a litter of babies each month, so it’s important to prevent the overpopulation of rabbits. Since their hormones work all the time, that causes stress to rabbits and some may become aggressive in time. Neutering procedure can solve the aggressiveness issue.
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10. Rabbits chew furniture all the time
It might seem that rabbits go around the house and bite everything that is on their path, like furniture. But that is not quite true. Rabbits have a set of teeth that is constantly growing and they have the need to spend them by chewing something. If bunny has an interest in furniture, he can be distracted with wooden toys, tree branches or hay.
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