Hop to it! Bunny basics for beginners

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 9/11/18

Some people have cats as pets, while many around the world sing the praises of their canine friends; but, how about switching it up and getting the best of both worlds: a bunny!

Having a …

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Hop to it! Bunny basics for beginners

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Some people have cats as pets, while many around the world sing the praises of their canine friends; but, how about switching it up and getting the best of both worlds: a bunny!

Having a rabbit not only offers a cute, cuddly companion just like a cat, but it also brings with it a plethora of positive traits that some would argue trump both cats and dogs.

First off, bunnies are easily cared for. Items they need include water, adequate food, a litterbox, bed and shelter with normal temperature. If you’ve got that, you’re golden. What kind of food do bunnies eat, you ask? That’s the beauty of the little hoppers; they can eat a wide variety of vegetables. The only food they absolutely require is a good amount of Timothy hay daily, as this serves as the foundation of their diet and helps with digestion. It can be purchased at any pet store, and you’ll know you did the right thing when that bunny plunges into a pile of hay head first to eat. Aside from hay, romaine lettuce, cilantro, parsley and kale are all good sources of nutrients for bunnies young and old. Obviously, they love carrots, but carrots are considered a bit too sweet for frequent consumption, so they should be used as a treat to reward good behavior, and not as a dietary staple. If unsure about a particular food, look it up online. Bunnies cannot vomit, so what they eat must be digested. It’s up to us as pet owners to ensure our fluffy companions get the best out of their daily meals.

Behavior in rabbits is often varied; however, there are noted similarities between all species. Some are more relaxed while others are more excitable and some may even be grumpy, but this is no different from any other pet. Just like people, bunnies have their own personalities. A few similarities most bunny owners can attest to include foot thumping, throwing things and popcorning.

When upset or excited, a bunny will thump its foot once or twice in such a way that it sounds like a popping noise. This is just your bunny telling you they are either happy or displeased. Use context clues to figure out which is which.

One of the cutest aspects of the little creatures is their tendency to throw things they deem are “in their way.” These objects are normally toys they have tired of, or that are simply inconveniencing them. The bunnies will pick up the objects with their mouths and throw them out of their way; however, this is also how some bunnies play with toys.

Popcorning is when a bunny jumps into the air and kicks out its legs or twitches mid-air; this is a sign of great excitement and happiness in your furry friend, as it’s equivalent to a child running around because they can’t contain their giddiness. They will often do this while hopping around excitedly.

One of the biggest perks of owning a bunny is the lack of mess. While cats and dogs are great, no one enjoys scooping kitty litter boxes, or consistently having to take dogs outside. Bunnies use a litter box, but "do their business" in such a way that there is little to no smell whatsoever. This is because rabbit droppings are essentially rock-hard balls of digested hay with no odor. If the litter box is dumped and changed at least once a week, there will be no smell.

Another perk of having a bunny is the lack of bathing required. Similar to a cat, a bunny will clean itself by licking its fur. It’s important to get your bunnies spayed or neutered, as the phrase “multiplying like rabbits,” didn’t come out of nowhere. Getting your hoppy friend fixed early in its life may also prolong their life span. For female rabbits, it also shrinks their dewlap, which is the large flap of fur underneath their neck. A dewlap produces loose, down fur which the female rabbit will pluck out to line a nest for future babies; however, if she’s fixed, she of course has no need to make future babies comfortable.

Perhaps the biggest piece of advice for bunny owners is to think before you buy. While they may seem low maintenance, bunnies are living, breathing creatures and deserve the same level of care as dogs, cats, ferrets, etc. They are faithful companions and are easily cared for, but are not a decoration. Countless parents ignorant to this fact purchase bunnies to wow their kids at Easter each year, but the fun fades away when the creature continues to need care. If you want a decoration, get a stuffed animal. With the proper care, love and basic research, a bunny can live to be 10 years old or more, and will bring years of happiness to happy bunny owners everywhere.

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