Have you ever seen those freaking adorable baby rabbits online? Me too!..... I bought them. I know, I know it's a ridiculous things to chew off. But why not while I have the time. So speaking of time, this blog is basically just going to go over my experiences with rabbits and see if they may be the right fit for you and your family. There are so many things to cover so lets just do this.
So basically rabbits are the Michelle Williams of Animals. So pretty to look at it but, so unappreciated at the same time. Many people don't understand the certain needs that they require. Now bear with me, this is the long part but we'll get through it. What type of breed you choose depends on your lifestyle. Let's get a few basics out of the way first. Consider rabbits a cross between a dog and cat (carewise). They obviously don't need to be let out every ten minutes to use the restroom but rather can be trained to use a litter box, believe it or not. I've litter box trained mine in case the temperature gets too cold in their hutches, I'm able to bring them in without any problem. Back on topic with several factors here; grooming, space, time and finances.
Many rabbits require little grooming. They're cat-like in this aspect due to the fact they are self cleaning. They should NEVER be bathed, no matter what you see in Instagram videos. The stress it puts them under is just insane. It practically induces a seizure, and you do not want that vet bill. A simple brush once a week along with a general health check to make sure all the parts are clean, moving and working properly is just fine. On the other hand, some breeds require so much work. Angora for example are just what you think they are, super fluffy and so much work! I've never braved this breed because of the time that needs to be put into them. Brushing being an almost daily requirement, matting and tangling the least of your problems with them. If their hind end gets tangled, it's a nightmare to detangle and cut out (which is not recommended). These are not for the beginner, not even me. I've got a full time freakin' job here folks. If you simply evaluate how much time you are able to give towards grooming weekly, this will help narrow your search down.
Many people take the easy way out and buy a simple hutch. That is completely fine for the average rabbit owner. A nice little spot on the patio where the kids can reach and play with them. Now when you go to the breeder you'll probably see a building full of wire cages stacked multiple high from wall to wall. This is normal for someone doing it on a large scale. Then you have people like me. I've made hutches that are two high and have an inside space and an outdoor space. I researched how much space they would need and made the cage to the specifications. They're quite happy when they have what they need. Along with their hutches I also make sure to rotate them in a portable pen that I can put them in out in the yard. A happy bunny with jump and flip, trust me you'll know when they're happy! Here is an example of my setup, it's a little over the top but clearly you'll learn that about me. I wanted something easy to clean and easy to get into should their be any problems I need to take care of.
It took me a couple of days to complete this but I wanted to take my time and make sure it was done correctly. I made sure that sharp edges were tucked away and everything was safe and secure. Like I mentioned, it's a little more than most people would be willing to do but they have multiple ones to choose from online. Those work just as fine, but I wanted mine to be customized.
Now this is a big touchy topic. So many times I see people get rabbits for Easter, or they get one and don't think about the time that goes into them. They aren't a lawn ornament neither are they a race horse. You'll have to find a balance that works for you. Daily checks on the hutch to make sure they have plenty of water is your number one priority. I monitor their food intake to make sure they stay on a balanced diet. Most of the time they have leftover from the day prior, throw it out and put fresh in. Pellets are the easiest way to feed them. So many options when it comes to feed. Just read the instructions and go with your gut on what to feed. Most of the time your instinct kicks in and you'll know what looks good on the ingredients, if you don't simply google it and get your answers. Also a huge must is always give them fresh hay. They need this more than pellet food. I shove their hay racks full and every morning I make sure that they are to the top full. The occasional treat doesn't hurt them either, just make sure it's made specifically for RABBITS. Meaning no chips or regular veggies you may have in the fridge. Believe it or not rabbits aren't on the paleo diet and won't eat a lot of the fresh vegetables you've picked up from the grocery. So don't think that you need to go the fancy organic, gluten free, eco-friendly farmers market for the fresh, just picked today stuff. A couple of carrots and some lettuce is just fine.
This may seem silly but it's something to consider. It may seem overwhelming but you have the cost of the rabbit, the cost of the feed and the cost of the vet bills. Veterinary appointments are particularly necessary because rabbits have a small life expectancy. You could choose to have your pet neutered or spayed, which is always a safe practice. Rabbits have a very small success rate with neutering and spaying. Their little bodies sometimes just cannot handle the procedure, so use caution if this is what you choose. Seeing as how rabbits are mainly solitary animals they will do fine by themselves in a cage. A yearly checkup just like most animals will suffice. Depending on your vet this could be relatively small expense.
Let's get to me now, been waiting on this the whole blog. So I currently raise and breed Lionhead Rabbits. They're a newer breed, recently recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. They've only been around since 2004, most of their colors aren't even recognized in the showring yet. I chose this breed because their freaking adorable! Like come on, just look at them!!!
Like, are you kidding me??!! But all joking aside these guys do require some work. Thank God I'm a hairstylist and not afraid to get in there with a brush. They don't require a full blowout but they aren't afraid of a slicker brush anymore. They are called Lionheads because when rightfully bred they resemble a lion, a full mane surrounding their heads and some are labeled double maned when it continues down their sides and rear. This means they tangle like a son of a bitch down there. They get brushed about twice a week, as long as their willing to work with me.
So I'm sitting their on the couch holding Aruba, which has somewhat of an attitude. She's about a year old, which in rabbit years this is sometimes past showing season. She's slowly losing her mane, I'm fine with that because she'll be a mom from now on. (I don't breed just to have more rabbits, there's a lot more considered when this happens). Anyway we're on the couch, and she's just chillin' out, getting to know me and just enjoying her best life right. She has this thing where she constantly flips her head like she's flipping her Bieber bangs out of her face. I ignore it and keep working on the computer. Then I look over and see this...
I literally laughed out loud, and instantly sent this to my friend. Like I mentioned, she's losing her mane so it's a little wispy right now. This photo cracks me up, she doesn't even seemed bothered by it! She is currently pregnant and about 2 weeks out from her due date so she's in a separate hutch from the others, I can see this hutch right outside the kitchen window. (I'm very protective of these animals, if you couldn't tell). Her baby bump is probably the cutest thing you've ever seen. Rabbits have a gestation period of only 28 - 30 days, so I've got little time to get ready for these guys. She'll be a great mom, I'm sure of it and I can't wait for these guys to be here!!!
I chose a dwarf breed to minimize their footprint on the lot size we have. A little space, with a big impact for me. They add such a sweet charm to the yard and I just love watching them come up to the cage in the mornings when I'm filling their bowls. Rabbits are such a sweet animals and often get a bad rap for being messy and gross. That is not the case at all, most of the time they choose an area of their cage and use that as their restroom so cleanup is quite easy. Dwarf breeds are the smallest that you can find, and the cutest things you'll ever see.
If you're thinking about adding a rabbit or even rabbits to your home, it's a great experience for you and children at that. It teaches responsibility and educates along the way. It opens so many doors as well, clubs such as FFA and 4-H, breeding projects, meat for your family or just a loveable pet. Wisely consider it before making the jump but, I say go for it!
The Little Happy Farm