Being a member of many online rabbit social groups I have seen heartbreaking patterns within the bunny community. For example, people who owned pet rabbits but could never touch them for years; rabbits who suffered from medical conditions but were never tame enough to be physically examined. And the most tragic scenario, where numerous people confess to surrendering their pet rabbit because it was not the pet they hoped them to be. So I set out to create a rabbitry that helped solve these problems and keep the rabbits with their human families.
I start handling these bunnies before their eyes even open, getting them used to being held before their instinctual fear of being touched sets in. Aside from the fact it’s super cute to be able to walk around the house with your fuzzy baby bunny leaning against your chest, there is a more practical reason why conditioning them to be receptive, even happy to be touched, is important. Rabbits should be groomed routinely, nails should be clipped and hair should be brushed. Long nails rip off causing infections, loose hair gets consumed causing intestinal blockages, all of which can end up as hefty veterinary bills or worse, the loss of your rabbit. Ear mites, impactions, malocclusion, urine scald, sludge bladder, and many other afflictions can be caught and treated at home effectively as long as your rabbit is tame enough to be handled.
It’s easy to breed rabbits. It takes work to make them great companions.
Health and Wellness
Rabbits do about 40% of their growing in the first 8 weeks of their life. Physical exercise plays an important role in the development of their muscular skeletal system and respiratory system. Binkies and zoomies at a young age hardwire their brains to be more novelty seeking, making them happier and more playfully curious bunnies in life. My baby bunnies are free to roam, the moment they’re able to walk they are allowed to explore, bink and play.
They are fed hay and fresh vegetables as that is the most nutritious food we as owners can offer them. My buns already eat many herbs and veggies so you don’t want to worry about poopy bottom or other GI problems commonly associated with introducing your rabbit to leafy greens. We already know the puppies from mills suffer numerous health issues so why would we get a pet bunny from a tiny outdoor hutch? The answer is don’t because those pets are more timid and neurotic, more prone to physical illnesses and immuno-compromised diseases.
I don’t just breed rabbits in my house, I run a fully functional colony. At three weeks old the kits leave the safety of their mothers and their nest box and join the colony where they learn vital rabbit social skills. They learn how to groom other bunnies, they learn social hierarchy, they learn to respect another rabbit’s den, they learn to comfort each other, they play chase together, they learn to love each other, and they even learn to protect each other.
This practice is practically ignored in the rabbit trade, because it’s easier to keep mothers and their kits isolated from other rabbits. It is no wonder we see such catastrophic injuries and utter failure when trying to bond rabbits. Why would a rabbit want to share its food and space with another rabbit if he or she never learned the benefits of being with other rabbits? This is a well understood concept with dog owners, if you want your dog to be social with other dogs, then you need to expose them to other dogs in their puppy stage – during their social window. If you plan on getting a second rabbit one day, get one that’s socialized.
Genuine Love & Respect for Bunnies
I also find exposure to people to be vital in creating a well-rounded social bunny. Since my babies are free roaming, they spend all day in contact with me and my family. They want to interact with us, they give us kisses, boops, binky in front of us and seek attention. They see us as part of their colony and not just food vendors.
It’s my personal opinion that the standard and practices of breeding rabbits for pets should be elevated to the way we treat our canine companions. Unlike dogs, rabbits and cats are fairly new to the companion pet scene so without proper socialization they are inherently feral. It is inhumane to make these social creatures live in isolation. These mothers deserve to be happy too, they only need to tend to their kits a few mins a day, having them locked in cages all day to rear their kits seems cruel.
People have stopped purchasing puppies from mills so we should stop buying bunnies from the cages. I hope my methods raise the standard of treatment for these sweet and loving animals, they deserve better than being mass bred in tiny cages. These sweet mamas deserve a happy and full life.
Just how cuddly are my bunnies?
Special thanks to the Brown family for letting me record and use this video.