No More Impulse Rabbits!

I know it has been a few weeks since I have updated this blog, but since my book was  published a month ago, I have been consumed with promoting it and getting the sales going. I am happy to report that the sales have quadrupled from what they were last month and I really hope that trend continues.

Today I sent copies of the book to several bunny-centric websites in hopes that they will like it and want to carry it to sell. I am working on getting everyone who buys a copy to review the book on Amazon, so that we can get higher rankings and therefore be seen by more people.

Yesterday was a very nice Easter Sunday for us, because the Beach Bunnies had a meeting again at Buccaneer Beach. We were collecting chocolate rabbits to donate to a local women’s shelter and ended up dropping off 27 chocolate rabbits for the children of abused women, which is almost double what we gave them last year.

We also had a busy Saturday educating the public at a Petco Unleashed, which I felt was very appropriate the day before Easter. My wife and I talked to dozens of people and it was good to visit with the two HRS fosters that we brought with us. Both of the foster rabbits were slated to be euthanized at a local shelter we work at for nipping, before the HRS pulled them from the shelter.

I totally escapes me how the shelters can justify putting a bunny to sleep for nipping, when it is part of being a bunny to do so. Rabbits communicate by nipping and I personally feel that nipping is normal rabbit behavior. My lap bunny, Star nips me every day. It is her way of telling me something.

Nipping by a bunny is a sign of good self esteem and confidence. A rabbit who does not have those good qualities usually will not nip, unless completely terrified or cornered. My bunnies nip me BECAUSE they are not afraid of me and are only trying to communicate something when they do it.

YES, there are some highly socialize bunnies who have been taught not to nip, but this takes a lot of work and trust on the part of the rabbit. I believe that basically all rabbits were born to nip.

There is a huge difference between biting and nipping. When a bunny nips, he is usually communicating something. In rabbit communication, a nip is like a human giving another the elbow. It means that you are clueless and missing something and to get with it.

When a rabbit bites, you are going to lose a hunk of skin. A biting rabbit intends to hurt you and is seriously angry or trying to defend himself. Virtually all rabbits nip at one time or another and it’s intention is not to cause serious bodily harm. Trust me if a rabbit wanted to harm you by biting, you are going to be bleeding when he is done.

A nip might occasionally break the skin, but in most cases will not. If it does, it is only because a bunny’s teeth are so sharp. For me, it is usually just a sharp pinch that hurts, but does not cause injury.

Back to the subject of shelters euthanizing for nipping. I feel this is absurd. To me this is like putting a dog to sleep for barking.

I realize after working for years with the shelters that they have a huge problem. More animals are usually coming in than are being adopted. Many critters spend months if not a full year waiting for a new home. The result of this is that any excuse to get rid of an animal becomes a serious and lethal one. It is a matter of space and economics, but the shelters are not the ones to blame.

Ultimately, the guilt falls onto the public who create the situation of many thousands of homeless animals, rabbits included. Rabbits are a particularly difficult problem in many communities because people obtain them from pet stores or craigslist on an impulse. It pains me to see rabbits for sale in the malls, because I know that most of them will be bought by people on an impulse.

They will be strolling along and see a cute rabbit in a mall store window. Even though fifteen minutes ago they had not idea that they wanted a pet rabbit, they were now the proud owner of a tiny baby one.

Once they get their newly purchased pet rabbit home, the problems start because they are totally unprepared. Their homes are not bunny-proofed and they do not usually have proper cages or x-pens for them. One local pet shop was selling rabbits for $10 last week in the days before Easter. Most of these impulse bunnies are bought for around $20 and when the new owners find out that it will be around $300 to have her spayed, it just does not happen.

It is then that things usually go from bad to worse. Carpets get chewed, as do the computer cords and TV cable. It is not long before the rabbit ends up locked in a backyard hutch or cage… or even worse let to run loose in the yard.

Many people will bring home a male bunny, who soon as he reaches sexual maturity will start spraying to mark his territory. He will soon be banned from the house because the owners never get him neutered and so that behavior will not ever end.

The public needs to become more informed about pet rabbits, so that they do not impulsively get them before preparing their home and family for what is involved in having one. It is too late when after you get a rabbit home to find out that one of your children or spouse is allergic to the fur or hay.

I cannot tell you how many rabbits have been returned to the shelter for this reason. I can only imagine how many store bought bunnies are disposed off for this, since pet stores don’t take rabbits back if it doesn’t work out like the shelters do.

Our local HRS gives classes to try and educate the public about how to care for, house and feed a pet bunny, but they are poorly attended considering the percentage of people who have rabbits and know virtually nothing about them. When I talk to people at educational events, I would venture to say that fully 80 percent of the folks who have a rabbit today, are not properly feeding, housing or caring for them. That is a very high percentage and just because you have had pet rabbits for 20 years does not mean that you know a lot about rabbits.

These are the same people who tell me that their rabbits only live to be 5 or 6 years old and thoroughly believe that it is normal for them to live that long. Most are shocked when I tell them that they live to be at least twice that old.

I will be the first to say that I had rabbits for 20 years myself and thought the same thing. It was a rude awakening when I finally realized that all of my previous rabbits had died an early death.

We have a lot of work to do to change this vicious cycle of impulsive buying of rabbits and then ending up at the shelters. It will only happen through education. Every one of us that loves bunnies needs to make a small effort to educate those around us.

Just like a YouTube video goes viral, we need to get this information about pet rabbits into the viral mode. It needs to be something that gets talked about over and over until a majority of the public understands that rabbits are not disposable pets. That rabbits are not a good kid’s pet. Even that rabbits are intelligent highly interactive pets, but that they are expensive and high maintenance. They are simply not for everyone. They are a ten year commitment that needs not be entered into lightly.

If this can be done, then someday people will consider the consequences of getting a pet rabbit just like they would a cat or a dog. It is possible and while it may not happen in my lifetime, I believe that someday it WILL happen.

The way it all starts is for you to tell someone you know all about rabbits. If enough people start saying the truth, it will become common knowledge. That is what I hope is in the future for all pet bunnies, don’t you?

The Bunny Guy

2 thoughts on “No More Impulse Rabbits!

  1. I’m British but live here in Singapore. I volunteer as a pet adoption counsellor for the SPCA here. We get hundreds of poor bunnies. Great site. I will recommend it to adopters and my co workers.

    • Hi
      Thank you for sharing my site with others. The key to stopping the flood of rabbits to shelters is education. Rabbits are unique pets because they are also farm animals. Dogs and cats are usually not farmed for food and fur. This creates a special problem because many people who want a pet rabbit will treat it like a farm animal, because they do not know the correct way to raise them. Most rabbits do not behave like a pet if you put them in farm living conditions. I believe this is why so many people fail at having pet rabbits and then dump them at the shelter (or worse). We need to teach people that the way you care for a pet rabbit is not the same way that you care for a farm rabbit.
      The Bunny Guy

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