I got my first rabbit, Ellis, from SaveABunny one year ago this month. We’ve had many adventures together, and some misadventures. And some boring days spent sitting around, reading and chewing on books. I’ve learned about litterboxes, bonding, finding a vet, traveling, housing, bunny-proofing, and grooming. The bunnies themselves have taught me things I’d never read about, and other SaveABunny volunteers like Mai and Carly have shared what they’ve learned, too. But even browsing a year’s worth of blog entries, and scouring the thorough information on the SaveABunny website, there are some things that have been left out.
1. Vigilance. Even when you think everything is fine, even when you give your bunnies a grooming session twice a month, even when you’ve bunny-proofed everything and pamper them and love them, things can go wrong. It’s all too easy to give them too many treats and let them get overweight, or not notice them sneaking into dangerous places you wouldn’t even have thought they would venture, like the cat box, or to accidentally give them some greens that might kill them.
2. The Internet. Obviously, if you’re reading this, you have access to the Internet, and if you’re anything like me you spend entirely too much time on it. But having a connection handy should not be taken for granted. It’s kept my bunnies out of some serious trouble more than once. Most recently, I bought some greens at the farmers market that I assumed were safe – an Asian mint with leaves that were purple on the bottom – and when I was rinsing them off to give to the bunnies, I gave them a sniff. Not minty. Wondering if they would even like it, and just generally having a suspicious feeling, I googled a description. Results: “potent respiratory toxin most commonly affecting horses and cattle.” Yummy side dish for humans, deadly for herbivores.
3. A plan. And I don’t mean, “Get rabbit, live happily ever after.” At SaveABunny, we get rabbits returned to us way more often than we’d like. Someone gets knocked up? Rabbit goes. Someone gets married? Rabbit goes. Someone starts dating a jerkoff who hates animals? Rabbit goes. Someone gets cancer and has to do chemo? Rabbit goes. Someone gets laid off and loses their house? Rabbit goes. Now obviously some of these are more valid than others, but before you get a rabbit (or any pet, really), ask yourself what your priorities are. What happens to the rabbit when the unexpected happens? If you find the love of your life and everything changes, make sure he or she fully understands rabbits and the challenges of having them from the very beginning.
4. A big rug. I really, really, really wanted to think that I could have both rabbits and hardwood floors. I love hardwood. We all love hardwood. Except bunnies. Bunnies hate hardwood. Their little feet slip and slide on it and if they’re forced to live on it they eventually develop orthopedic problems and probably sore hocks – especially if they’re larger bunnies or if you’ve fed them too many treats. I tried getting a bamboo rug with more traction, but it’s just not enough, and the hard surface did indeed result in sore hocks after a couple of months. Get a rug if you don’t have a carpet, and make sure it’s big enough for them to run on. 5′ x 8′ or larger, preferably cotton and preferably washable. And make sure they don’t eat it.
5. Sunshine. Bunnies, like people, don’t produce their own vitamin D. You can’t keep them back in a windowless laundry room. Plus, there are few things more satisfying and adorable than seeing your bunny looking out the window, waiting for you, when you get home.