Hop on Down to RAS

By Shireen Haynes

Did you know that Rochester Animal Services often have rabbits available for adoption? Rabbits make wonderful pets. As with adopting any animal, it’s best to do your homework first.

Rabbits are social and inquisitive creatures. They like to be a part of the family. Some housing options include a bunny-proof room where the animal has free reign to roam around and explore. Bunny-proof is the key word as rabbits are chewers and can be destructive if they are bored. You must remove electrical cords and other hazards if your bunny is to be unattended. Puppy play pens and rabbit condos are also great housing options. Outdoor pens have drawbacks that include exposure to the elements and/or predators. Rabbits can also become socially isolated if not paid proper attention.

They can affectionate and you can create a bond with your rabbit if you follow the proper steps. Most rabbits do not like to be hugged or picked up. They do best staying on the ground. Sitting quietly on the floor, let your rabbit come to you. Do not make quick or jerky movements. Let your rabbit sniff you and get used to your scent. You may have to try this several times over the course of multiple days but once your rabbit is used to your presence, try to stroke or pet him/her when it are near.

Rabbits are vegetarians and hay is the main staple of their diet. Hay is rich in fiber, which will help promote your rabbit’s digestive health. Rabbits’ teeth are constantly growing and hay helps to wear them down. Rabbits also like to eat leafy greens such as basil, bok choy, romaine or dark leaf lettuce, kale and cilantro, to name a few. Be sure to wash any fresh produce to remove pesticides and other harmful elements. Rabbit pellets can make a nice diet supplement but do not overdo it. Pellets can be high in carbohydrates and protein which can lead to obesity as your rabbit ages.

Rabbits are easily litter-trained, which is convenient for you as the owner. Be forewarned – travel from the shelter or rescue to your home is stressful for your new pet. As a result, there may be a few accidents before your rabbit gets the hang of where to go in its new home. Don’t despair – you can retrain and reinforce litter habits such as you would with a puppy. Keep your rabbit in a confined space with clean litter pan. Be sure to scoop out waste as often as necessary to encourage its use. Once your bunny gets the hang of the litter box, you can expand the area in which it may wander around.

Another important thing to do is to spay and neuter your rabbits. Male rabbits, like male cats, may spray in the house. Spaying and neutering also have many health benefits for your pet, such as reduction in the incidence of cancer. And of course, spaying and neutering helps control pet overpopulation.

Finally, while many people think gifting someone an “Easter Bunny” is a fantastic idea, shelters and rescue groups are inundated with unwanted live animal gifts after the holidays.  Please consider a stuffed animal instead.

As with any animal, rabbits can be wonderful pets when chosen carefully.  Time and consideration must be part of the equation.  Doing your home work first will set you and your new pet on the path to success.  If you are interested in adopting a rabbit, please visit the Rochester Animal Services website to view all of our available animals.