Misconceptions

Pet rabbits are often underestimated. People seem to think they’re just a cute little cage animal that just eat, poop and sleep all day. People assume rabbits are stinky creatures and that they live off of rabbit pellets and carrots. This is not true at all! Here are a few common misconceptions people seem to have over pet rabbits.

Misconception #1 “Rabbits can live on just carrots, lettuce, and rabbit pellets.”

Reality: Just like people, rabbits require a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals as well as proteins and fibre. And also like people, they simply cannot survive on a diet limited to just two or three items, especially if one of those items is basically nothing but water (iceberg lettuce). The majority of a rabbits diet (80% of it actually) is hay. The greener and sweeter smelling the hay the better. The most recommended type of hay for adult rabbits would be Timothy Hay. Hay and fresh water must be provided for your rabbit 24/7. Rabbits are grazing animals and hay allows them to keep their gut moving, their teeth trimmed and provides them with lots of fibre. The second most important part of your rabbits diet are fresh greens. There are three types of veggies: low in oxalic acid, which should make the most of your rabbits salad, high in oxalic acid which shouldn’t be the main part of your rabbits salad, and non-leafy green vegetables. The last important (sometimes optional) part of a rabbits diet are good quality timothy based pellets. The brands I’d recommend for pellets are: Oxbow, Martin Mills and Living World Green. Carrots are considered a treat. They are high in sugar and should only be given in small quantities. Two baby carrots would be the maximum amount i’d give my bunnies per day and thats pushing the limit! Please dont be feeding your rabbit a whole carrot or half of one. Rabbits just like humans can get diabetes where their bodies will no longer be able to produce its natural insulin, which is needed to control the level of sugar in the blood.

Misconception #2 “All pet store bunny treats are good for your rabbit. I mean why else would they sell it?”

Reality: Most of the fancy pet store treats sold for rabbits are actually meant to be visually appealing to the person buying them. The dried, sweetened fruits and nuts included in these feeds can make a rabbit obese as well as cause digestive problems. Rabbits are vegan creatures they shouldn’t be eating “yogurt drops” or any other products for that matter containing artificial sugars and dairy products. The best treat is fresh fruit. Treats should be limited and not fed too often. If you do feed fruits it should be limited to 1 tbs per 2lbs of your rabbit.

Misconception #3 “Rabbits need a bath to be clean”

Reality: DO NOT BATHE YOUR RABBIT! A rabbit does not need to be bathed for the purpose of cleaning them. Rabbits can easily die from shock or hypothermia when given a bath. They can also get ear infections and pneumonia. Rabbits are constantly grooming themselves to stay clean, just like a cat does.  If your rabbits paws are dirty because of their litter its you who isn’t using the right litter or isn’t changing it enough. All rabbits will have a slight colour difference on their paws from stains but it shouldn’t be extremely noticeable (bright orange or yellow). When living in clean conditions, rabbits should never need a bath.  The only reason a rabbit should be cleaned is if they are having a poopy butt/diarrhea. If thats the case you should have a warm damp towel or cloth and you should wipe off the dirty areas.

Misconception #4  “Rabbits can live their entire lives in pet store cages”

Reality: Pet store cages are way too small for any rabbit breed! You are just wasting a bunch of money by buying it. Pet store cages are not recommended to keep your rabbit in at all. There are many different cages you can make yourself for a cheaper price and you can also let your rabbit live in dog exercise pens. You should consider letting your bun be cage-free or confined to your bedroom (make sure its rabbit proofed of course!)  Rabbits also need time out of their “cage” to run around and get exercise.

Misconception #5 “Rabbits are rodents.”

Reality: While originally classified as rodents, rabbits were found to be so unique as to have their own separate order, Lagomorpha, primarily because they have two more incisor teeth than rodents. Lagomorphs are divided into: pikas, rabbits and hares.

Misconception #6 “Domestic rabbits can interbreed with hares and cottontails”

Reality: Hares (Lepus) have 24 pairs of chromosomes and cottontails has a 21 pair, while the domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus) has 22. While the mating act is possible between the different species, the resulting embryos will die after a few cell divisions because of the differences in the number of chromosome pairs.

Misconception #7 “Rabbits are soundless animals.”

Reality: Some people who aren’t familiar with rabbits may be amazed to see how noisy rabbits can actually be. Oreo is one of the noisiest buns I know. She grunts, thumps, purrs and even barks sometimes (when annoyed at Linkin!) Rabbits make a wide variety of sounds from the contented “purr” of a happy rabbit to the shrill scream of a rabbit in fear for its life.

Misconception #8 “Rabbits are “dirty” creatures.”

Reality: No, rabbits are actually very very clean, it is the people who do not clean the cages often enough. Rabbits will normally go in one corner of their cage and can be litter-box trained. Oreo will refuse to use her litter box if it isn’t clean enough for her liking. Rabbits are also constantly grooming themselves just the way a cat would.

Misconception #9 “A rabbit and a hare are the same thing.”

Reality: Hares differ from rabbits in that they don’t dig burrows and their young are born more mature. Baby Rabbits, called kits,  have a gestation of approximately 28-31 days. They are born naked and blind and require a period of time to grow in a safe nest before they can run. The hare, on the other hand, is born after a gestation of approximately 42 days. Baby Hares, called leverings, are born fully furred, eyes open, and they are ready to run immediately after birth. You can’t necessarily tell a hare from a rabbit just by its common name. The jackrabbit is actually a hare and the Belgian Hare is actually a rabbit. Talk about confusion! 😛

Misconception #10 “All people who buy rabbits know what they’re getting themselves into!”

Reality: No actually they don’t. Most people who get rabbits from petshops or breeders think that they will stay small and cuddly forever, and you can just let them live in a cage. Wrong, wrong and wrong again! Please do your research before buying a rabbit and please consider adopting a rabbit from a shelter!

Misconception #11 “Rabbits like to be put in a trance (flipped onto their back) they even fall asleep and act relaxed”

Reality: Rabbits in a state of tonic immobility are not relaxed or asleep.  Scientists believe that this is a defense mechanism brought on when a rabbit has already been ‘caught’ by a predator. If the rabbit appears dead, the predator may release its grip momentarily and allows the rabbit to escape. If a rabbit is on it’s back and kicks their back legs into the air hard enough, they can suffer an extremely serious spinal injury as a result.

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