Bouncing Baby Bunnies

Rabbits are cute, entertaining, fairly easy to train and make wonderful pets. But are they right for you?

Not all rabbits are as easy to handle as the ones in the Cadbury commercial. Ideally young rabbits should be handled as soon as they come out of the nest. Not before, as mother rabbits do not like strange scents on their young.

If handled carefully and regularly they will soon love the attention. If you are looking for a bunny to call your own, it is a good idea to handle it before you bring it home. Just because it is in a pet shop, it does not mean it was handled and is used to people.

The good news is that even if you get one that is not used to being held, if you take the time to gently catch and handle it, they will usually come around once you gain their trust.

Some of them can even be taught to accept a harness and leash. But never put a collar on it, their necks are so delicate and sensitive that they will not only panic, but if too much pressure is put on it, it can kill them.

Rabbits must always be handled with caution, not only are they delicate, but also because they can inflict a great deal of damage if they are frightened. The powerful hind legs deliver quite a punch and their claws are as sharp as a cat. And, unlike felines, their claws do not retract.

One nice thing about rabbits is they are quite easy to feed and clean up after. But unlike in pictures and on television, they cannot live off of just carrots and lettuce. In fact, baby rabbits should have none of these foods until they are at least four to six months of age and then only in small amounts.

Lettuce, especially, has so much water in it that it will cause diarrhea and they will quickly become dehydrated.

A good-quality pelleted rabbit ration is a must, as it will have all the vitamins needed.

As with any pet food, make sure the brand you buy is of good quality, looks green, smells fresh and has a minimum of dust.

Good, green hay should also be offered on a regular basis to ensure they are getting enough fibre.

When they are older, some of their favourite treats are apples, carrots and whole wheat or multi-grain bread.

And, in the summer, they love young fireweed, dandelion leaves, clover and fresh grass. Just be sure the plants you pick have not been sprayed with pesticides.

Rabbits can be litter trained just like a cat, so they can run around the house with the minimum amount of messes. Just never leave them unsupervised as they love to chew, especially on electrical cords and wooden furniture.

Rabbits can even get along with other household pets, but again make sure that it is always supervised and in a controlled setting.

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at [email protected]

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