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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My oldest, who is 13, fell in love with an angora rabbit the other day. After looking into it, we determined that an angora would not be a suitable animal for us, but I did find a woman near us who is giving away her mini lops. We feel that we could provide a good home to one. We are experienced pet owners, and between my husband and me, we have had cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, gerbils, and possums.

My daughter basically wants a cuuuuute pet that she can snuggle. Would a mini lop make a good pet?

TIA!

dm
 

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the rabbit who was my companion for exactly 10 years was probably the most amazing animal i have ever had relationship with. he was a phenominal person!

taking care of a rabbit is a great deal of work, but it also brings with it a great deal of joy. if you take the time to understand the way that a rabbit thinks and begin to understand that 'language' then the relationship will be incredibly rewarding. i can hardly describe how relating to my beautiful october j has changed me for the better.

they can be cuddly--many are and some aren't. they have a great sense of humor, love to play and interact. they're just wonderful.

i would recommend looking into the information online aobut how to care for a rabbit and then go for it if you think you're willing to make those special sacrifices for a bun.

they're phenominal. i hope to have another in my life some day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have been reading online about rabbit care. I'm a little surprised that you say it's a lot of work to care for them, because the things I have been reading making it sound rather easy ... cleaning the cage, feeding, checking for medical issues, making sure they get exercise, etc. Or maybe because I have three special needs kids, a husband, a dog, and a cat, that doesn't sound like a lot of work??


Can you elaborate on what you mean by "a great deal of work"?

dm
 

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A quick story... A couple years ago my husband was driving and a small black "puppy" ran out in front of him. He stopped the car and got out, the puppy ran up to him stood on its hind legs begging to be picked up. However the puppy was not a puppy but a lop eared rabbit.

It was a friendly rabbit, very sweet and puppyish so he brought it home. My daughter loved it and it was a very nice little pet, litter trained, playful, friendly, sought out human interaction... Someone had obviously taken care of it so we scanned the lost pet ads and called a shelter or two, no one seemed to be looking for him though.

We decided to keep him on a trial basis however, after a week or two we discovered 2 very undesirable habits... Our puppy rabbit was an intact male and he would spray urine everywhere, and I mean everywhere. He also had a penchant for humping hands, feet, legs, DD toys, clothes and anything that wasn't the floor. Since he was a nice pet and we did like him we called around to several vets to see how much neutering him would cost. Every vet we called charged more than it cost to spay our female dog. We could not afford the $250+ and decided we needed to find him a permanent home. Our friends relative had recently bought a small hobby far and wanted some farm animals so Mr. Pee Pee Pants went to live with her and is living quite the rabbit life there.

The moral of this story rabbits can be wonderful pets however, don't get a male and if you do make sure it is neutered.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
I have been reading online about rabbit care. I'm a little surprised that you say it's a lot of work to care for them, because the things I have been reading making it sound rather easy ... cleaning the cage, feeding, checking for medical issues, making sure they get exercise, etc. Or maybe because I have three special needs kids, a husband, a dog, and a cat, that doesn't sound like a lot of work??


Can you elaborate on what you mean by "a great deal of work"?

dm
Rabbits are prey animals--that's the biggest lesson that people have to learn. They don't react in the same way to perceived threats as your dog and cat would. They have more of an instinct to get away from scary things (so if you're holding one and they hear a door slam, they may rake you with their back feet to get away; they will also do that to kids who are holding them too tight) and they die VERY easily. Rabbits will keel over if they get scared enough, so in other words if your dog chases the rabbit it's very likely to fall over dead.

You will have to eat some substantial veterinary costs for spay or neuter; that's a hard thing for a lot of people to do (spend $200 to spay a $10 rabbit). You have to understand their unique health needs and health problems--they're very prone to respiratory disease, for example, so never ignore a snuffle. They need a BIG cage to be healthy and happy. Also, if you're going to have a house rabbit as opposed to a livestock rabbit, it is JUST as much work as, say, a cat. You can't leave it in its cage all day and expect it to be sociable and friendly. They need lots of play and attention and training.

What breed of dog do you have? Many dogs (hounds, terriers, beagles, etc., anything with a healthy prey drive) are just simply never going to be OK with a rabbit in the house; it's like putting a big t-bone in a cage and then telling them to ignore it. It's just physically impossible for them to do, and for those owners I would recommend against ever owning a rabbit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We have a shepherd mix mutt. He does chase rabbits in the yard, which is something we have considered. We have two possible indoor places for keeping the rabbit, both of which would be inaccessible to the dog. We would not have them out at the same time. The dog could be in his kennel or outside while the rabbit was out.

Hmmm, lots to think about.

dm
 

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many dogs will chase wild rabbits but not domestic ones--because they smell different. most dogs are quite confused by domestic rabbits, as are cats.

now, how are rabbits a lot of hard work?

people outlined a lot about their special care needs (vet care, etc) and the general process of their personalities as prey animals. but, i'll touch on a few others.

first, my own opinion of their care means letting them be free roamers. most people let their cats and dogs be free roamers, and IMO, rabbits shouldn't be treated differently. in various intellegence tests, rabbits actually "score" higher than most breeds of dogs and cats. they are highly intellegent creatures. keeping them in a cage is essentially keeping a vibrant, adaptive, highly intellegent being in prison. (i also disagree with birds being caged as a matter of course. i believe in a cage being a 'rest spot' for a rabbit or bird--as in their own "room" where they can be safe, but i feel that these rooms should have an open door policy at all times, so that the rabbit/bird can get in or out at will).

Keeping a rabbit as a free roamer developes that rabbit's intellegence and personality. people say that my October J was the most extraordinary rabbit they've met--and that's even coming from rabbit experts such as vets and house rabbit society types as well as other rabbit companions such as myself. the free roamer developes a strong sense of self and place and then asserts this in the outter world (whether in it's own home or out).

but having a free roamer also has pitfalls. Rabbits have very vibrant personalities, and some perosnalities and behaviors can be destructive to the human lifestyle. Some are diggers and will dig up and rip apart your carpets--this is why we ultimately went with laminate floors in our home. all rabbits are chewers, and some are mega-chewers and will chew furniture, floor boards, and wahtever else it can sink teeth into, so you have to find ways to discourage this behavior while still meeting their chewing needs (and it is a need, it keeps their teeth from over growing).

rabbits are also major poopers. they poop constantly and this is healthy. living with a caged rabbit, there may be less poop around, but even so there will lbe poop around. in our case, we decided to clean up after the rabbit twice a day--AM and PM because otherwise, you're doing nothing but sweeping up poop. and if you live with small children, poop on the floor may not be the greatest thing--you know?

spraying and humping is an issue whether or not the animal is spayed/nuetered. it is a dominating behavior, it is also a sexual/sensual behavior, and the rabbits (female or male) may continue to hump even after spay/neuter. male rabbits may continue to spray. my guy did. it was a way of showing dominance and affection (honestly).

that's another thing, btw, rabbits do show affection by bathing each other, sitting close together, and sometimes that means not getting up to use the litter box. if your clothing is absorbant, or the rabbit realizes that s/he will not be 'sitting in urine' if it pees on you, then it will pee on you because it doen't want to leave the fun of being cuddled. so, sometimes you have to clean a lot of clothing/towels etc--and rabbit urine can stain.

rabbits love to chew wires, and so all wires and anything that is remotely chew-able looking needs to be out of the rabbit's line of sight. If you come into our home, for instance, you will notice that the two lower shelves of all of our book cases are empty OR have file boxes (metal) to store things. The reason is that the rabbit's motto is "if i can see it, smell it, hear it, feel it, or think about it, it belongs to me."

so, if it's out of sight, smell, sound, feeling, or thinking, then it's probably safe. You want books to maintain nice covers, keep them off the floor. clothing without chew holes in it, keep it off the floor. Dog ate your homework? NO! the rabbit did--and yes, this did actually happen to me, he chewed the edges off of a number of pages of one of my college papers, and i just turned it in that way with a note "sorry, the rabbit ate my homework!" (it got a chuckle out of the teacher--but it's serious business. a rabbit can tear through paper faster than most shredders.)

The truth is, just as you would adapt a home for a new baby, if you have a free roaming rabbit, you have to adapt your home to them. For us, all wires were wrapped in pipe cleaners, and hidden behind things that the rabbit couldn't get to or above his line of sight/accessability (from tip toe). books, papers, magazines, CDs, boxes (paper/cardboard)--if they were important--were put above his line of sight. all furniture, floor boards, etc, were routinely polished with olive oil infused with habenaro pepper (they don't take too kindly to spicy) to prevent chewing. we chose laminate flooring because it's easier to pick up the occassional "runny poo" or wet poo AND it's easier to clean urine from affection, spraying, or just deciding not to use a litter box.

If you're willing to learn about how to care for a rabbit--how to adapt your home for a rabbit if you have a free roamer (which in my opinion gives you the healthiest, most fun, most intellgent, and most engaged rabbit)--then you will have a phenominal time with your rabbit.

you will discover a being that is greatly in tune with the cycles of the earth and moon. you'll discover a being who teaches you about nonattachement, the beauty of simply being, and the wonder of quietness and listening. you'll discover a being who understands family life (they live in warrens), teamwork, and having a sense of value in your 'place' in the family in a way that cats and dogs don't (as non prey animals, they have different perspectives--cats being independent entirely, dogs being pack animals with strict rules--rabbits are more fluid in their roles, switching up, sharing, and teaching and guiding each other so that everyone has roughly the same skills to aid the warren should one pass). you find a creature who walks in two worlds, who whispers the secrets of the world below and above, and who generously offers you all of itself in every moment, with deep presence, compassion, and grace.

in short, you see another face of God.
 

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i'd like to add an addendum.


i believe in a cage being a 'rest spot' for a rabbit or bird--as in their own "room" where they can be safe, but i feel that these rooms should have an open door policy at all times, so that the rabbit/bird can get in or out at will

in reference to the underlined portion, i thought i should qualify. i think that there are times when cages for any animal are appropriate and necessary. obviously, transport is an issue, as is the general safety of the animal and/or those around the animal.

i have no qualms with, for example, keeping an animal penned while outside of the home, or at nite, or at times when it would be dangerous to the animal OR to others around the animal for the animal to be out.

but, i also feel strongly that cages are often over used with rabbits and birds, and so i tend to speak rather strongly to the idea that they should not be caged as a matter of course or as a matter of the majority of their day.

just as many do not believe in keeping a dog penned up for most of the day, i do not think that birds and rabbits should be caged for the majority of their time. many people who have rabbits in cages exercise their rabbits for a few hours at a time--perhaps 2 or 3 hours twice a day. that means that the rabbit is in the cage for 18-20 hours a day. That's a lot of time to be in a small space of a cage for a creature with an active mind and a body that prefers activity as well. Thus, i do not think that, in general, animals should be caged.

they may choose to be in the cages for long times, or stay in one place for a long time, but unless it's a safety issue for people or animals, a cage should not be the 'default space' of caring for an animal.

that's just my opinion--i know it's fairly radical, especially when speaking of bunnies. but my bunny had such an impact on every aspect of my life, and his life as a free roamer was written on every cell of his body and every aspect of is bearing and being. he was amazing.

i couldn't imaging keeping him or someone like him in a cage for 18-20 hours a day.
 

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zoebird put it much more beautifully than I ever could, and I echo completely what she shared. My rabbits are an amazingly wonderful part of my life and I have been blessed to have them (despite any extra care that they might require, which for us included serious illness and disability). But if you're committed to it, bunnies are TOTALLY worth all of that and more.
 

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worth every crazy-beautiful moment!

my october j didn't hop for the last two weeks of his life. i could have cared for him that way indefinitely. caring for him as a disabled rabbit (even though his spirit was always more than able!) has been one of the great joys of my life. i look back on it with such fondness. it was a powerful practice of devotion and love for me.

i am so thankful for every blessed minute of his life--as you are/were for your sweet Peanut.
 

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Wow Zoebird you're the bunny mama!


dharmamama - I've had the fortune of being the companion to 3 rabbits over the last 12 years. Two of them were neutered males and one a spayed female who is still with me after 6.5 years.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned thus far is rabbit teeth. Rabbit teeth keep growing and growing. They don't stop growing like our teeth. Their teeth are more like our nails. Unless the teeth get worn down from hay (preferably timothy hay) or food, the teeth can grow right into the jaw making it impossible for the bunny to eat without pain. It's not always easy to spot this condition and most vets don't know about this either. You would think they would but I know some who don't. My first bunny had overgrown molars. My dog's vet at the time who was also the president of the local vet's association couldn't even spot the problem. I didn't know what was the matter but I knew my rabbit was anorexic. The vet told me my bunny was old (was not..he was only 6) and that I should just accept that it was time for him to pass on. Thankfully I didn't listen. Instead I took the bunny to a rabbit vet who was recommended to me by the local rabbit club. After a very thorough examination, he spotted the overgrown teeth in the very back of the mouth. We sedated the bunny and filed the teeth down. My bunny went on to live another 3 years and we had to file the teeth every so often.

My other two bunnies have had their share of health problems. I could spot the issues early on because I keep them indoors in a spare room. They have the house to themselves at night. It's not easy to spot illnesses in rabbits. As prey animals they are used to keeping their poor health under wraps for fear of attack from a predator. You have to be observant and willing to spend time each day with your bunny. My second bunny needs her medicine twice a day. It's a lot easier to give meds to my dog than to my bunny. You need a gentle touch and a lot of patience. My third bunny had a kidney infection and eventually the parasite that caused the kidney infection affected his brain so he died of a seizure even though he was only 2 years old. I'm not trying to dissaude you from having a bunny but just know that they can get serious problems which may necessitate syringe feeding etc. I've had issues with all 3 of my bunnies. Yet I wouldn't trade the time I've had with them. They're amazing animals. They're very low-key gentle animals who need gentleness in return. They can be affectionate and responsive. They are also some of the funniest animals around.
I got such a kick from seeing my bunnies race around the house at high speed then stop and race in the opposite direction for no reason other than the fact they like to run fast. When they're especially happy they would do twirls and bunny kicks in the air. It's darling. Rabbits can be great companions to watch TV. My third bunny used to sit on the couch with me when I was watching TV.
 

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my husband talks about that TV thing a lot too. October J didn't want to be held while one was reading, but if you're watching tv or a movie, then it's cuddle central. i think it's because reading requires more attention, so there's less attention on the rabbit.

anyway, ryan and october j would sit for a good 2-3 hours together while he watched a movie or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It sounds like a rabbit would not be a good fit for us. With the dog and the cat we already own, I just can't imagine giving the rabbit free run of the house ... not to mention that fact that we homeschool, so we have books and papers and art supplies and clothes, etc., all around the house. We would not be able to rabbit-proof adequately.

Honestly, both dh and I are squicked out by the animals in cages thing. We are not comfortable with the idea of having caged animals. But we fell into the "Poor Desta, her life has been so hard, a bunny would make her so happy, maybe we should just put aside our personal discomfort and let her get one" trap. I KNOW that is not a good reason to get a pet. I KNOW it.

Anyway, I have been away for a few days with the younger ones, and dh has been talking to Desta about the enormous responsibility of having a rabbit, and he suggested to her that she might enjoy having a cat instead (we used to have 2 cats, and the one that she bonded with the most, in fact that first member of our family that she bonded with died in August). I think we'll take a trip over to the Humane Society to see whether she falls in love with a cat there.

Thanks for everyone's input.

dm
 

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dm:

i'm really glad to hear of your decision. and i know it sounds nuts because of how much i love rabbits. but they really do deserve to be in the right homes, you know?

you know what your family needs and is capable of--and it sounds to me like a rabbit isn't a good fit. i think it's great that you asked questions and got the answers that you needed.


i do hope that you come up with a solution. might i suggest a rather unusual one? she might want to volunteer to help at a shelter--assuming transportation won't be an issue.

she'll get to be around and help other animals; it's a unique relationship, and she can do that without introducing a new family member to the home. if she relaly likes rabbits, she may be able to work for a rabbit rescue, and learn a lot about them. when she's in her own home, she might then decide to bring one into her house.


anyway, just a thought. thank you for being so thoughtful about this!
 

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I'll add: We have two bunnies, beautiful and very healthy. They are outdoor bunnies and spend a lot of time roaming the yard. But I am really upset when they trash the yard with the endless digging, so the kids are required to supervise them when the rabbits are out. This does not work very well.

If you want a bunny as an outdoor pet, you have two options: Keep your bunny caged a lot (BAD option), or quit caring about your yard (also a hard option.) Hmmm.

Rabbits scoring high on intelligence tests?
:
:
 

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DM--Sounds like if your DD wants something easy care that's cuddly she'd do well to find a cat who is a "lap cat". Not all cats are like this, but I'd say quite a few are, enough that you should be able to find one. I've got one REALLY super suggly cat over here, what a nut...spends his cuddly time on my lap/chest purring like mad! And, cats are really easy care!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes about the cat. When Desta first came to us (she was adopted in May '06) we had two cats, and she and the long-haired female bonded right away. The cat slept on her bed and even submitted to being dressed up a wheeled around in a stroller.

Unfortunately, that cat died while Desta was at camp in August.

I think that Desta has in mind a replacement for that cat in terms of personality. She said she wanted a kitten, but I have been talking to her about taking an older cat because we will have a better idea of its personality.

Both my dh and I have had cats and dogs our whole lives, so we know the drill in caring for them.

Our kids help us out, but we know that we are ultimately responsible for the pets.

On Monday I am taking the dog and cat to the vet for their yearly check-up, and later in the week I will take Desta to see the cats at the Humane Society.

dm
 
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