Category Archives: Rabbit Activism

Annual Easter Reminder

Every Easter, I like to remind people of an important fact that often gets overlooked this time of year – namely, that bunnies are not toys, and should not be given like toys at Easter.

gus - bunnies aren't toys

This is something that’s a bit personal to me, since I was given to some kids for Easter, who later abandoned me in a parking lot. Fortunately for me, mum saw this happen and rescued me – but every year there are many, many more of my bunny brethren who aren’t so lucky.

Which is why I go to such great lengths to remind people that giving a real, live bunny rabbit as a toy or gift is probably not the best idea.

betsy - you're not thinking of giving a real bunny

Of course, if you asked dad, he’d also mention all the “work” that he supposedly has to do, and how vet bills can add up, and how so on and so forth. And I’m sure mum would also mention something about chewing & furniture, but I wouldn’t know anything about that (that’s Betsy’s specialty).

betsy - not just a pretty face

But whichever way you look at it, a bunny is a living animal, not a toy, and we aren’t temporary, either – we can live for 10 years (I’ve just passed my 8th birthday).

So if you’re thinking about getting a bunny for Easter, please think twice about it. So many people aren’t prepared for what taking care of a grown rabbit means – and if you’re not prepared, I would beg you not to get a live rabbit at all – instead, stick with the chocolate kind.

And if you do decide that you’re ready to bring a bunny into your life, perhaps consider adopting one instead? You’d be saving the life of a bunny who’s probably been abandoned – maybe even another Easter bunny, like me.

-Gus

gus portrait

Rabbit Awareness Week

Apparently it’s Rabbit Awareness Week over in the UK, and while we don’t live there, we do have lots of bunny friends “across the pond,” and we always like an opportunity to increase people’s awareness of rabbits, so here goes.

Common Misconceptions about Rabbits

Rabbits are not as common a pet as cats and dogs (I have no idea why this is, but anyway…) and because of this, there is a lot of misinformation out there. That’s not to say that people don’t know things about rabbits, it’s just that the things they know are often completely wrong.

Rabbits eat nothing but carrots: I blame cartoons for this one. Rabbits eating carrots is like dogs chewing bones or mice eating cheese; yeah, sure, it might be something they like, but it’s not actually what they should be eating for every single meal. In cartoons, kids are almost always eating candy or ice cream, but in real life you wouldn’t feed a child nothing but candy and ice cream, would you? In other words, don’t use what you’ve seen in cartoons as an authoritative source for how you should care for a rabbit – or any other animal, for that matter!

Rabbits need to live in a hutch with a wire floor: This is horribly false, and comes about from people raising rabbits for food and thus not caring about their comfort and wanting to make cleaning up as easy as possible (thus maximizing the work/food ratio). Wire floors don’t work for rabbits, since we don’t have pads on our feet (just fur). If it wouldn’t be comfortable for your feet, it won’t be comfortable for a rabbit’s feet. As for the “clean up” aspect, rabbits are easily litter-box trained (like a cat) so there’s no excuse (except laziness) for not giving a rabbit a solid floor and a nice clean litter-box.

Rabbits should be picked up by the scruff of the neck: I hate this one, and I really don’t know where people get this silly idea. What other animal do you always pick up by the scruff of its neck, anyway? Maybe kittens, when they are small, but still… we’re not kittens! And that goes doubly for when we’re grown up! Just… don’t do this! Pick up a rabbit carefully, supporting the whole body and especially the back feet. (Or better yet, don’t pick us up at all – we don’t particularly enjoy it. Well, at least I don’t!)

All rabbits love to snuggle and cuddle: This one is only wrong when you say “all rabbits.” Rabbits all have different personalities, and some of us enjoy cuddling, and some of us don’t. But even if we do like cuddling, be careful – we’re still (relatively) small animals and you are very much bigger than we are and you can hurt us by accident (children especially can make this terrible mistake).

Rabbits just need to be fed pellets and water: A lot of the misconceptions regarding rabbits seem to involve food. This one again comes from people raising rabbits as food. Pellets were originally developed to help rabbits grow big & fat quickly so they could be eaten. If you’re keeping a rabbit as a pet you don’t want to feed your rabbit pellets… at least, not all the time. Pellets are better these days and they do have vitamins and stuff, so a little bit here and there is OK, but I’d say they should make up less than a quarter of your rabbit’s diet.

Rabbits don’t live very long: This is a big misunderstanding that a lot of people learn about the hard way. The typical lifespan of an indoor, healthy house rabbit is about 8 or 10 years (plus or minus a few years either way depending on breed, size, etc.). The worst thing that can happen when people find out about this longer lifespan is that they get tired of the rabbit after a few years, and just try to dump it somewhere. There are precious few shelters for rabbits (not as popular as dogs and cats, remember?) and you can’t just let a domesticated rabbit go in the woods – the word “domesticated” isn’t there just because it sounds cool. If you’re not prepared to care for a rabbit for it’s whole life, maybe you shouldn’t get a rabbit in the first place.

Rabbits can be released into the wild and survive: wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean, just look at me:

gus flopped by my office door Do you think I could survive in the wild? I’d stick out like a sore thumb!! Plus, I am used to my food being brought to me twice daily in a nice, convenient bowl. What is this “foraging” thing you speak of? Like most domesticated rabbits, I would not stand a chance out in the wild without my bunny slave to take care of me.

Ways Rabbits are like Cats

When dad needs a quick analogy for what a house rabbit is like to live with, he often says that we’re like “vegetarian cats.” This is a decent enough analogy:

  • Can be easily litter-box trained
  • Sleep/nap all the time
  • Self-grooming (no baths required)
  • Somewhat independent
  • Can destroy your furniture with claws/teeth (but unlike cats, we can’t be “de-clawed”)

Ways Rabbits are like Dogs

OK, we’re not very much like dogs, but we do share a few common traits:

  • Social animals (need either frequent attention from you, or a companion animal to keep us company)
  • Need frequent exercise (though you can’t take us for a walk like a dog, we do need to run around – we can’t live cooped up in a cage/box all the time)
  • Like to chew things – although as rabbits, we prefer wood/cardboard/paper/etc. to chew on instead of bones or rubber toys!

Ways Rabbits are like Horses

This one surprises a lot of people, but we have some traits in common with horses as well. Interestingly, a lot more people seem to understand the needs of horses better than that of rabbits!

  • Can “go off our feed” – like a horse, if we stop eating, that’s a Very Bad Thing and we need to see a vet right away.
  • Eats lots and lots of hay – we basically need fresh hay available to us 24/7.

Ways Rabbits are Totally Different from Cats and Dogs

Even though we share some similarities to cats and dogs (as far as what it’s like to live with us as pets), we are very different animals:

  • Prey species: cats and dogs are predators. We are prey. This makes us very nervous and explains why we like to hide and don’t like being picked up or startled.
  • Vegetarian: it goes without saying, but we don’t eat meat. We eat vegetables – dark green leafy vegetables. And lots of hay.
  • Considered an “exotic” pet by most vets: unfortunately this means your vet bills are going to be higher. Be prepared for it.
  • Teeth grow constantly: this is part of the reason why we need to chew on things constantly. Give us stuff to chew on or we’ll find stuff to chew on. Or, if we aren’t allowed to chew on anything, eventually we won’t be able to eat and you’ll end up with a very big vet/dentist bill.

Get More Information about Rabbits from the House Rabbit Society

I hope I’ve helped raise your awareness of what it’s like to own and live with a rabbit – at least a little bit. Or, if you already knew this stuff, I hope you can pass it on to someone who doesn’t!

If you want more information (and if you are thinking of living with a rabbit, you absolutely should get more information – I’ve only scratched the surface here), check out the House Rabbit Society or your local house rabbit organization.

You can also read our bunny blog or one of the many other bunny blogs out there (some are linked on the right side of this page) to get a feel for what it’s like to share your house with a rabbit.

gus - bored by the stairs

OK, that is all. Leave treats on the floor, and no touching please.

-Gus

p.s. feel free to leave your own little tidbits about rabbit awareness in the comments if you’d like!

Easter Reminder: Bunnies are not Toys

It’s almost Easter again, which is traditionally the time of year I try to remind people that Bunnies are not Toys. We are real, living creatures that need love, care, and attention – and not just for a little while when we’re small and cute.

Yet some people still insist on giving baby bunnies as gifts to children, just because it’s Easter.

Well, I think you know what I have to say about that:

Gus Says: Bunnies aren't toys, so don't give them as gifts for Easter

You wouldn’t give someone a cat or a dog as an Easter gift, so why would you give a rabbit?

I was “given” as a gift for Easter and then abandoned when the people I was given to got tired of caring for me (just shortly after Easter). I don’t want to see that happen to anybun again, which is why I keep bringing up this subject ever year.

Instead of giving a live rabbit, people should just stick to chocolate ones, or stuffed toys. That’ll make Easter a happier time for everyone.

-Gus

Betsy Says

Gus is usually the one who goes on and on about Easter, but it turns out I can be quite effective at getting the message across, too!

betsy says: stick with chocolate bunnies this Easter

This just makes you want to do what I say, right?

-Betsy

Beware of Easter Bunnies

Well, it’s that time of year again – Easter Time – when large numbers of people seem to loose their minds and decide that putting sole responsibility for a living, breathing animal into the hands of a 5 year old child is a good thing. (Here’s a hint people: it’s not.)

As an Easter Bunny myself – one that was abandoned just a few weeks after Easter – I sort of have a responsibility to educate people about why Easter ≠ Bunny. It’s the least I can do to make sure that there are fewer bunnies out there that have to go through what I went through – being abandoned in the streets of a city while still a tiny baby. So, yeah, think about that first before you go out and pick up a “cute little baby bunny” from the pet store for your kids this Easter.

gus looking up at the tube

Above: I was abandoned when I was this little.

So let’s get down to business, shall we? The biggest mistake people make around Easter time is forgetting this golden rule:

A bunny is a rabbit, and a rabbit is a BIG responsibility.

You’d be amazed how many people forget this. Baby bunnies, like all other animals, grow up  and get bigger. It’s a fact of life. And unless you think life itself is disposable, you have to take responsibility not just for the small, cute, baby bunny you brought home, but also the big, older rabbit you’ll end up with in a few months. If you’re not willing to do this, then don’t get a rabbit. (Maybe you should get a chocolate bunny instead?)

There are a few other things you should know before you even think about picking up a rabbit:

  1. We need more space than the cages you can buy at the pet store. Almost 100% of the cages you find at your local pet store are meant as “starter” cages for 1 bunny when it’s little. That same cage won’t do once the rabbit grows up – we need more space. If you don’t have enough space, then maybe you should think twice about getting a rabbit.
  2. A rabbit cannot live on pellets and carrots alone. Yeah, I know, carrots are what rabbits eat in cartoons all the time, and pellets are easy to feed, but let’s be serious – you don’t see wild rabbits munching on carrots and going “what’s up, doc,” do you? Also, pellets are basically rabbit prison food – it’s what was fed to rabbits when they were being kept as food, not as pets. We need good food, just like any other pet. An unlimited supply of timothy hay (not alfalfa, at least not once we’re grown up), as much as we can eat, is a good start, as are fresh veggies like parsley, romaine lettuce (or any lettuce with dark green leaves), and many other dark green veggies. Carrots, on the other hand, have too many calories and should not form the bulk of our diet.
  3. We need things to chew on. In the same way that people give their cats a scratching post, a rabbit needs something similar – but for chewing, not scratching. Our teeth grow constantly; if we don’t chew on things they will grow so big that we can’t open our mouth to eat anymore. Oh, and if you don’t give us things to chew on, we’ll probably end up chewing on anything we can get our teeth on – like your carpet, baseboards, furniture, etc. So give us cardboard boxes or bits of (untreated) wood to chew on. Heck, your used paper towel or toilet paper rolls will do the trick in a pinch – and we’ll recycle them for you. Bonus!
  4. We are not the same as hamsters or gerbils or other “cage” animals. People often lump us in the same category as hamsters or gerbils or even guinea pigs – animals that are typically kept in cages full-time. But this is a mistake. Just look at us – we’re a heck of a lot bigger than a hamster or gerbil! So don’t base your housing/feeding/care expectations off of what you might have in mind for a smaller animal – we’re different, and that means you need to take care of us differently. Instead, you might want to think of a rabbit as more or less a vegetarian cat. You wouldn’t keep a cat in a 3 foot x 2 foot cage all day, now would you? No, you’d let it roam around your house. Well, if you are going to get a rabbit, you should expect to let the rabbit roam your house (or at least be out free roaming for a period each day) in the same way.
  5. We are prey animals, so be gentle with us. While the “like a vegetarian cat” analogy works pretty well, it’s also important to keep in mind that we are prey animals – unlike a cat, which is a predator. This has huge ramifications on how we see the world. A cat may get scared of things, but it’s generally not constantly on the lookout for things that might be trying to eat it – quite the contrary! But a rabbit is always on the lookout for things that might be trying to eat it – because, like it or not, something almost always is trying to eat us. Because of this, we can be a bit skittish – so keep this in mind when you loom over us! Also, since we do startle rather easily, you should probably keep smaller children away from us if possible – or at least supervise them very closely. A small child making lots of noise or sudden movements can be downright terrifying to a rabbit!
  6. We need exercise, too. If you keep us in a cage, let us out from time to time (ideally, at least once every day) so we can stretch our (huge) legs. People have no problem walking their pet dogs, but for some reason they don’t think to let their pet rabbits out. Don’t fall into this trap – let us run around once in a while!

Those are just some of the things I could think of off the top of my ears.

Now, if after all of that, you still think you want to get a rabbit, well, let me give you a few more pieces of advice: try adopting a rabbit instead of buying one from a pet store. You might not get a “small & cute” baby bunny, but the bunny you do get will probably already be litter trained and may even already bee spayed/neutered, saving you a BIG expense down the road. Plus, you’re probably saving a bunnies life when you adopt from a shelter. And I think that’s a good enough reason by itself, don’t you?

And finally, here’s some pictures of what you can expect to see if you let a rabbit into your life:

gus close up face

betsy at attention

gus is sulking - or tired

gus napping

i see you

typical gus

gus says - you suck

betsy girl

betsy's sourpuss face

And, of course:

betsy plotting our doom - with text

So, please, think twice about buying a bunny for Easter. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

-Gus

p.s. for more on why you shouldn’t get a bunny for Easter, please see Make Mine Chocolate (makeminechocolate.org).

For Bunny Sake Rabbit Rescue

My dad tells me that the For Bunny Sake Rabbit Rescue organization is actually kind of near where I live.

Dad also tells me that they are trying to raise money to build a permanent shelter & education site for rabbits – I think this is a Good Idea.

So, if you can (and I know you can), please give them a donation – even a small one would help. It’s super-easy – you can donate with PayPal on their website (you have to scroll down a bit), or donate via check or even just drop off supplies that they need!

So, c’mon. Help them out. If you do, I promise to… not disapprove of your very existence (for a little while, anyway).

-Gus

Rabbit Rescue in San Jose

People who dump rabbits outside like this are the worst kind of people. I’d bite their ankles if I ever came across them. And the teenagers who shoot the dumped rabbits? I’d show them how much I’m like that rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail!!!

Although my mum and dad regularly donate money to the kind people at SaveABunny, they need foster homes pretty badly as well. Unfortunately, these things always seem to happen way over on the other side of the country from us.

So if you happen to live near this San Jose place and can share a bit of your home with a poor lost bunny… well I think that’d be a great thing for you to do.

My dad likes to say “you can judge people based on how they treat their animals.” Things like this make me wonder about you two-foots sometimes…

-Gus

Gus's Newer Portrait

A Very Lucky Easter Bunny

Some people might remember that I’m an Easter Bunny – that is to say, I was given as an Easter gift and then abandoned and rescued shortly after by my mom.

Around Easter time, I always think about other bunnies who might not be as lucky as I was – and I was very lucky.

I like to remind people who might think that they need to get a rabbit just because it’s Easter that getting a real, live rabbit is a lot more responsibility than I think most people are ready for.

I know my dad wasn’t ready for the responsibility of having a rabbit in his house when my mom found me wandering around the parking lot of their house, way back then. But my mom and dad were always “animal” people who took good care of their animal family, so they rose to the challenge of:

I realize that taking care of me (and Betsy) is a big job – a full-time job, if dad is to be believed. So it’s not for everyone.

If you’re thinking of getting a bunny for Easter – or for any reason – you might want to think twice about it. You can see by all of the other stuff here on my blog that it’s a lot of work to keep up with a bunny!

But if you think you’re up to the challenge (and it is a challenge – though the rewards can be good too), might I recommend adopting rather than buying? So many of my cousins and more distant relatives live tough lives, being abandoned after Easter time, or just given up because they’re not small and cute babies anymore, that they really need a loving home like my mom and dad gave me. If you can give a bunny a similar home, please adopt one of my bretheren – I’m sure there’s a shelter near you somewhere. (The House Rabbit Society can probably help you find one if you don’t know where one might be.) Oh and be sure to spay or neuter your rabbit so you don’t contribute to the overpopulation problem!

Remember, not all Easter bunnies are as lucky as I am – but maybe if you’ve got a big heart (and a big home!), you can help another Easter bunny get lucky and find a great home.

-Gus

Gus's Newer Portrait