Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Most Macho Animal I know: Domesticated Rabbits

Recently, I mentioned I have rabbits as house pets in conversation.  Once again comments started being thrown around along the lines of "bunny stew," "dumb bunnies" and then a big guy squeaked out, "little woman with her cute widdle, wabbits." I decided to educate them. "Rabbits are the most macho animal I know.” I said. “European rabbits have been bred to be so docile and cute they will sit quietly in cages all day only to become an entree, a fur collar, or a throwaway Easter gift. Take them out of those hideous small cages, but first make sure they are neutered or spayed. Everyone has heard of their prowess in mating and reproduction.  If another rabbit isn't available they will go after your cat or dog. Male or female - it doesn't matter.  When they are neutered and spayed they will continue to mount each other to show dominance and establish order."
I just kept going and no one walked away. "Rabbits are a prey species, but they are far from wimps.  If anything invades their space (a cage), makes them feel threatened or backs them into a corner, a cute sweet bunny will turn to face the predator going on the attack grunting, boxing and biting. Their bite feels like deep razor cuts. I have the scars to prove it. I wear leather gloves when handling rescued rabbits who don't know me. Their trust must be earned after they reach puberty and especially if they haven’t been altered."
"Anyone who knows domesticated rabbits well has stories of bunny bravado." I wasn't ready to stop yet and one guy asked me to give an example so I continued.  "At Easter every year I hear at least one story of a small child with the tip of a finger bitten off when they are posed for portraits with rabbits. I have seen a 4 lb. lop eared rabbit run across a room at full speed to body slam a misbehaving cat three times their size. I have witnessed a 2 ½ lb. nine year old neutered male rabbit herd his female partner to a far corner away from a perceived threat.  The male rabbit returned to meet the danger alone – a large 12 lb. one year old rabbit. Fortunately, they were separated from a bunny brawl by a puppy pen fence because rabbits can do significant damage to each other.  Did you know as a survival mechanism all rabbits can stomach eating their own feces every night. They have 17,000 taste buds and we humans only have 10,000.  That's macho." I had stayed calm during my little lecture. I realized I had been waiting a long time to say this to the bunny bashers.
(Photo: Dorian Grey aka Destructo Bunny)

Prevent Hare Loss This Easter

Rabbit rescues are bracing for Easter bunny buying season this year.  It has been 14 years since I decided to do my part to get the message out. However, lots of people still don't know a toy bunny or a chocolate rabbit is a much more humane Easter gift.  The pet stores and feed stores who carry live baby bunnies at Easter aren't helping matters at all.  These rabbits often end up in shelters or worse.  The bunnies are usually only 4 weeks old and much too young to be weaned.  After all, the window of "cuteness" to market the rabbits will be gone within a month.  A couple of months after they are sold the rabbits will hit puberty and their raging "hare"mones will be on full display for unsuspecting buyers.  Children will not want to play with a pet that fights when picked up or cuddled.  Parents will be exasperated with the spraying and mess.  The feed or pet store never told them to have the rabbit neutered or spayed between 4 to 6 months.
There are a lot of good people out there working to educate the public about the perils of live rabbits as gifts at Easter.  See Make Mine Chocolate and visit the House Rabbit Society and countless other rabbit rescue groups on the web.