Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rabbit is like a...

"What kind of pet is a rabbit?". That is a question that comes up a lot when dealing with rabbits. Because rabbits are not as popular as other pets, like dogs and cats, people are looking for some sort of reference point. The answer, "That depends."

I will try to answer that question about my English Angoras. Experience has taught me that rabbits are way more complex than the skiddish prey animals I originally thought they were.  There is no single answer. Here is the best way I can explain what kind of pets rabbits are:

Rabbits are like horses. Both are prey animals and they definitely have minds of their own. You have to earn their trust. They form a relationship with you on their own terms. Even with personalities as unique as the individual.  Rabbits can become pushy as well, like an surly horse, so you have to balance respect for them, with your own cool, calm and collectedness. I've heard it called the "Caesar the Dog Whisperer aura" of leadership.   Check out Black Beauty or, my favorite, The Black Stallion if you are unfamiliar with one-on-one relationships with horses.  A rabbit's digestive system is a lot like a horse, too.

Rabbits are like cats.  My cats (and rabbits) always are for looking attention, but again on their terms. When out  for exercise, my bunnies run round and round my feet, just like a cat. That's the bunny love dance. Rabbits have their own independent spirit about them as well.  Sometimes they want to lay by me, and sometimes they just want to bounce away from me. Once again, they know what they want. Rabbits are clean animals.  They groom often.  My bunnies like to play with toys like cats.  They will try to lay on my fabric when I am trying to sew, on my book when I am trying to read.  They toss toilet tissue rolls and bat wiffle balls around.  Rabbits can use the litter box as well.  

Rabbits are like dogs.  Morning bunny check brings everybody to the front of their cages.  They're all bouncing around like eager puppies looking for attention.  "Pick me! Pick me!," they seem to say. Most of my rabbits come when called.  They love to get a pet and then bound off through the play tunnel.  I have a couple that are the ultimate lap dogs.  We can watch TV together.  The others don't have time for such idle pleasures, exploring every crevice of the room before plopping down to relax, just out of arm reach. Rabbits are trainable.  Some people clicker train their rabbits, but don't expect bunny to sit, stay, or heel.  Although, some may have more luck/skill than I did.  My angoras need weekly those fancy little dogs.

Rabbits are like chickens.  Multiple bunny households make pecking orders.  Everyone has their place.  Removing or adding rabbits upsets the balance, even when they are gone for just a bit.  Remembering that rabbits are territorial critters will go a long way to preventing mayhem.  On the flip side, nothing shows contentment better than two bonded bunnies laying side by side.  It's the cutest thing ever.  I do make habit of feeding my bonded bunnies in their individual cages just so I can make sure everyone's getting proper food because they can bully...then it is free feed hay for all. An observant eye is necessary for bunny ownership.  Since rabbits are prey animals, they are crafty about revealing illness or injury. A rabbit suddenly not eating may be the only sign you get.

In the end, I'd say that rabbits are a little bit of everything.  They are their own unique kind of pet.  I just love 'em!
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