It’s easy to find many challenges involved in having a pet rabbit. But there are lots of positives, too. Here are some of the pros and cons…
Rabbits can live a long time, up to ten years or so. That in itself can be either a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. People often view rabbits as something to amuse the kids when they’re young. But having the life expectancy of a dog makes them a long term commitment. Think ahead.
Rabbits are prone to a few diseases that may be hard to treat. Since they can’t vomit, a hairball can cause them serious intestinal difficulty. Keeping their diet correct in order to minimize the odds takes some effort. They can contract something called RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease), a virus that can cause death. Even if they survive, they can also spread it to other pet rabbits. They can be subject to flea and mite infestations, with all the potential complications that brings.
Rabbits requires some grooming, more than a cat, but considerably less than a dog. Though bathing them is unnecessary, and indeed not generally a good idea (rabbits can become overheated easily), they still benefit from regular nail care and brushing.
Some of that grooming effort is for the benefit of the rabbit, some of it is for you. Keeping them well brushed, but not harshly so, will help keep the amount of hair around the house down. Trimming their nails keeps them from being quite so destructive around the house if they’re left free to roam around.
A pet rabbit that is out of the cage can be quite destructive. They love to dig and they may chew almost incessantly. A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing and one way they keep them under control is to gnaw on things. That may be fine outside, but in the house it can be a problem.
Rabbit proofing is the way to go here, but that involves thought, effort and sometimes a moderate expense. You’ll need to lay down covers for the couch or plastic laminates (such as those used under office chairs) and devise other protective measures. But, there are many ways to do this and it doesn’t have to be done often. Many people see the expense and effort as well worth it.
Vet care is important and, as it is for any pet, expensive and time consuming. But with rabbits there’s often an additional problem: few vets have much experience with pet rabbits. Often, the little creatures just don’t get the attention a dog or cat might. When they become ill, they often die and are just replaced. That gives vets fewer opportunities to treat them. Finding a good one in your area can be difficult.
But all that said, rabbits are still among the most fun pets. They’re cute, soft and they exhibit a surprising array of amusing behaviors. They can run around and express joy. When not in stressful situations, they can respond well to individual people, like many other mammals. They’re affectionate, in their own way.
It’s hard to resist something as gentle and full of life as a pet rabbit. Weigh the factors yourself, then be prepared for surprises, just as you would with any pet.
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