So we acquired a bunny (on trial) in order to introduce the kids to a pet. We already have a cat, but she is as ornery and aloof as cats are wont to be.
The bunny has a hutch outside, but we bring it inside to socialise…but it’s not the most sociable of animals. And it likes to shit on the carpet in front of my TV. Apart from that, and hopping around the house for a while…it’s useless as a pet.
Do any of you have bunnies that actually interact with you on a regular basis? Or is this one brain damaged in some way?
Yes, a Bunny that you keep outside in a hutch is useless. As would be a dog or a cat that you kept alone locked up in a cage outside for most of the day. There is no nice way to say this: You are torturing the poor animal.
The domestic Rabbit breeds in the United States are all European Rabbits. Unlike the native American breeds, they are social animals. They need companionship. I know that farmers keep Rabbits outside in a hutch. The goal there is to fatten them up as quickly and cheaply as possible and then to slaughter them. You should not be trying to imitate them.
Pet Rabbits do not need to be kept outside locked in cages. They do not appreciate it. They need places to run around and explore. They need socialization. They need a secure place to hide and ways to escape. They do not need predatory animals trying to break in and terrifying them. They do not need mosquitoes carrying myxomatosis to be infecting them.
They can be housebroken. Our Rabbits will come running across the room to get into the litter box when nature calls. But they like to have a fixed area for doing their business. Your Rabbit is probably trained to go in the hutch, but you can’t ask him to keep it in for hours at a time, There are two things Rabbits are biologically optimized for: eating and pooping. They need to do both frequently. You can’t keep him away from his litter box for hours at a time. And also be sure to have food available at all times.
Bunnies have many different temperaments. Here are some of the things that you might be able to do with your Bunny:
And, yes, it does take time to build a bond of trust with your Rabbit. Certainly much more time than with a dog. The results can be quite rewarding. But if you are going to treat him like a toy for the children that they get to play with for a couple of hours and then put away out of sight in the toy box, then you will get a neurotic, scared Rabbit who will be no fun at all.
Please take some time to learn about keeping pet house Rabbits. If you are not a farmer, you need to be treating them like pets, not livestock.
My nephew had a pet rabbit that was litter box trained. I cared for it for two weeks once while they were on vacation. He was pretty cool, and would quietly sit next to me no matter what was going on. He also insisted on snuggling between my girlfriend and me on the couch.
As mentioned above, it’s a different expectation with a rabbit than other animals. Seemed like a lovely creature to me.
My rabbit Bertie is a snuggler as long as you’re on the floor with him. George prefers to sit on the upper deck of the bunny house while you stroke him.
I can’t house them together because Bertie is very dominant and will pester George all day until George explodes with rage, so Bertie gets the whole house and George gets the double-decker. George also like chewing and marking territory, which Bertie doesn’t do.
Both rabbits were strays – Bertie at a very young age and George as an adult. B refuses to go outside but G will spend up to an hour outside and then come in by himself.
What you say about the cat makes me wonder if you’re socializing your animals.
When a cat or rabbit (or puppy or whatever) is young, you need to spend time with it getting it used to being around people. If you want a pet that’s satisfying to interact with, you need to spend a huge amount of time interacting with it.
So you have a cat and a rabbit, neither of which is friendly. The cat is “ornery and aloof” because you don’t know how to give it the attention it needs. The rabbit lives in an outside hutch, then shits on the carpet in front of your TV because it’s trying to get your attention, and that’s where you are looking. I’d hate being a pet in your house.
Rabbits can be great pets, but you have to socialize with them a lot to get them to the point where they seem like interactive pets. They’re prey animals, so they need to feel extra comfortable. (Sure, once in a while you get an individual rabbit that has extra high charisma right from the get-go, but on the whole, I think they need more intentional socializing with an owner/family of owners.)
The litter training, IMHO, isn’t hard exactly, but if you’re used to cats, who almost seem to litter train themselves, a rabbit does take a bit more patience and time.
It has been a while…
Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes–
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses
And what’s with all the carrots?
What do they need good eyesight anyway?
Bunnies, bunnies, it must be bunnies!
(or maybe midgets)