Moodzie loves these adorable creatures. Below are facts about rabbits and what impacts them:

Characteristics:

  • Rabbits are small, furry mammals with long ears, with strong, large, hind legs and short, fluffy tails.
  • They have two pairs of sharp, incisor, front teeth, one pair on the top and one pair on the bottom.
  • Using their powerful hind legs, rabbits move by hopping. They have four, long webbed toes on their hind feet to keep them from spreading apart as they jump. They also have five toes each on their front paws.
  • Rabbits vary in size and color, ranging in weight from 2 to 16 pounds (1 to 7 kilograms), depending on their breed.
  • Pet rabbits that have been well taken care of and spayed early in life, have a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years.

Behavior:

  • Rabbits are highly intelligent, potentially loving and loyal creatures, who can become a most delightful companion. They are shy, ground-loving creatures, who feel really insecure and frightened when cuddled, held, restrained and bathed.
  • Although some rabbits tolerate handling quite well, many do not like to be picked up and carried. Like wild rabbits, if house rabbits are mishandled, they will nip, kick and scratch to protect themselves. Rabbits use their legs to thump and express how they are feeling. Legs are escape vehicles to flee from predators, weapons to defend their territory from other rabbits, or to protect their ears from fleas.
  • Rabbits need daily monitoring. Problems that are relatively minor in some species, differ from other rabbits. (e.g. a day or two of not eating may be threatening to a rabbit)

Diet:

  • Rabbits are herbivores that feed by grazing on grass and leafy weeds in the wild. They re-ingest their own droppings to further digest their food and extract sufficient nutrients.
  • A house rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality pellets, fresh grass hay, oat hay, water and fresh, dark leafy or root vegetables. They can also be fed a variety of fruits in moderation, such as: apples, melons, berries, pears, oranges, plums, pineapple, papaya and peaches.
  • Hay is essential to a rabbit’s excellent health, by providing roughage that reduces the danger of hairballs and other blockages. Apple tree twigs also provide good roughage.
  • Absolutely NO pasta, breakfast cereals, chocolate (poisonous!), cookies, crackers, bread, yogurt drops or other ‘human treats” should be fed to rabbits.

Special Features:

  • Rabbits are fastidious groomers and shed their hair every three months. They will constantly lick themselves to stay clean, but are prone to hairballs.
  • They are immaculately clean and once they have matured and are spayed/neutered, they go to great lengths not to soil their living quarters and will readily use a litterbox.
  • Rabbits can breed from a young age. Some species can breed from 4 to 5 months old.
  • Their teeth are specifically adapted for gnawing and grow continuously throughout their lives.
  • Some species of rabbits can reach speeds of 35 to 45 miles (55 to 70 kilometers) per hour.
  • Rabbits can become bored and depressed from isolation.

Habitat:

  • Wild rabbits are found in underground burrows in many habitats around the world, such as meadows, deserts, woods, forests, grasslands and wetlands.
  • As a result of their appetite and the rate at which they breed, rabbits can be a risk to agriculture. In some countries or locations, measures are in place to manage wild populations. In some locations, having rabbits as pets is illegal.
  • In locations that allow rabbits as pets, it is recommended that house rabbits live indoors, because rabbits kept in hutches outdoors have a lower lifespan. Make sure to supervise rabbits when they are outside, as there are many risks to their health.
  • Rabbits must be trained and the house must be bunny-proofed or they will chew electrical cords, books, rugs and furniture.

Impacts:

(a) Breeding and abandonment

  • In many countries, there is an overpopulation of domestic rabbits. Millions of adorable rabbits are killed in animal shelters every year.
  • Unwanted rabbits are often abandoned in fields, parks or on city streets to fend for themselves, where they suffer from starvation, sickness and are easy prey to other animals or traffic accidents.
  • Many of these rabbits will be sold as snake food, or as a pet for a small child who will soon “outgrow” the rabbit.

(b) Breeding and abandonment

  • Rabbits are bred world wide for the following purposes:
  • Rabbit fur: The fur is used to make coats, collard, ear muffs and cat toys.
  • Meat: Millions of rabbits are being raised and slaughtered in factory-like conditions, with very little government oversight, for human consumption every year.
  • Product testing:  There is no need to test cosmetics, tooth paste and household products on live animals, yet a large number of rabbits give their lives to such testing. Please consider avoiding products that have been tested on animals.

 (c) Easter

  • Each year, thousands of baby rabbits, chicks and ducks are purchased as Easter gifts, only to be abandoned or left at shelters in the days, weeks and months that follow Easter.
  • Some photography studios and businesses around the world offer photo sessions using a rabbit as a prop. The little bunny ends up neglected, abandoned or as a prize for a raffle.
  • Please join us this Easter in encouraging people to buy a “chocolate bunny” and “stuffed toy” rather than a “live” bunny.

(d) Health

  • Many factors can adversely affect the health and life-span of rabbits, such as extremes of weather, poisonous plants, bacteria, ingested hairballs and diseases spread by fleas, ticks, flies and mosquitos.
  • Rabbits insist on being clean and tidy and will lick themselves like cats, and like cats, they can get hairballs, if they ingest too much hair. Unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit. If hairballs are allowed to form, they can become gigantic masses of tangled hair and food. This will block the stomach exit, causing the rabbit to starve to death while his stomach appears to be very fat.

(e) Hunting

Wild rabbits and hares (and sometimes domestic rabbits, who have gone feral) are subject to being killed for sport. (i.e. hunting, greyhound training and hair coursing)

Government efforts to control wildlife occur in some locations, when rabbits or hares have found themselves living on land to be developed, farmed or when they have moved onto already developed properties, such as retirement homes or golf courses.

(f) Predators

If house rabbits are left outside in rural and urban areas, there is risk of predators. Rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator – even if the rabbit is not attacked or bitten.

Predators include; dogs, feral cats, raccoons, foxes and coyotes; and more rarely, owls, hawks, opossums and weasels.

Thanks to the House Rabbit Society for providing the factual information.

House Rabbit Society

Buy a Bunny a Little Time