How To Be a Bunny Mom and How Bunnies Can Help You

By Rebecca Grandahl

The beginning of my second semester junior year was rough — there is just no nicer way to put it. I was extremely depressed, having multiple panic attacks per week, and my mental health was quickly deteriorating. I ended up going home the very first weekend of February to try and get myself together.

That same weekend, my mom suggested to me that we go to the local pet store to get myself a bunny (note: I normally don’t advocate for pet stores, and if you are looking to get a bunny, I highly recommend looking to adopt a rescue first). I had been researching bunnies as well as emotional support animals for months at that point and figured it was probably the best idea. I needed something to take care of, particularly something that would be able to love me back. For me, a rabbit ended up being the perfect companion.

I brought home a three-month-old male dwarf bunny that same day, but I still had a lot to learn. Today, my bunny is my best friend, and he helps me get through so much adversity. When I cry, he nudges my hand to tell me to pet him. When I need a hug, he snuggles into me and licks my face. When I need a laugh, he’ll put on a show for me by jumping around my room and twisting in midair! But it takes a lot of responsibility and effort to take care of him, too.

Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require many things, including an abundance of love and attention. They need unlimited hay, water, and the right kind of food. They should be spayed/neutered and potty-trained, as it helps reduce aggressiveness as well as territorial behaviors. They need to be played with and need plenty of toys when they’re alone to avoid boredom since they are very smart animals. Plus, they need plenty of exercise and medical care.

One of the most important things to note about having rabbits as pets is that they should not be kept in cages. This is cruel as it reduces their ability to play, run, and “binky,” which is a term used to describe the hop and twist rabbits love to do when they’re at their happiest. Rabbits can be small, but they are not tiny animals, and regardless of size they have physical needs that must be met.

Having a bunny that is out of the cage all of the time is called a “free roam” bunny. This is usually done by bunny-proofing the room(s) your bunny will be in, and supplying bunny with its own bed, food and water bowls, a litter box and toys. Other supplies that are useful include rabbit carriers, harnesses, leashes, and a bunny first aid kit.

If you are not able to give the time, love, and financial investment to your rabbit, then it probably isn’t time for you to get one. And that’s okay! It’s great to understand any kind of animal regardless of your investment in them, but if you’re looking to get one in the future, make sure you do your research. You wouldn’t bring a baby home from the hospital without having a crib, clothes, and food ready, so don’t bring a rabbit home without having done the proper preparation.

Be aware that bunnies are naturally most active during dusk and dawn, as this is when the sun would be dim enough for them to go eat in the wild without being seen by predators. Bunnies like to take naps during the daytime and nighttime, but keep in mind that if you like to sleep in, your friend may wake you up early to play with a toy.

Having a rabbit can bring tons of joy to your life! Bonding with your bunny can be tons of fun and extremely rewarding. It usually takes about 1-3 months for your rabbit to get used to you or bond with you, but be patient. Lie down on the floor with your rabbit so you are on their level. Let them approach you, sniff you, and take their time. You may have to repeat this many times, but it will work the more you try it!

If you’ve successfully bonded with your bunny, you’ll notice them start to “take care” of you. They love to groom themselves, and you’ll find them trying to groom you too. This may be expressed by gentle nibbles or licking. If your bunny licks you, it’s a sign that they are head over heels in love with you! Your bunny may also purr when you pet them, and snuggle with you to get comfortable. They may run and greet you at the door at the end of a long day or jump around to express how happy they are with you. They can also express happiness by running as fast as they can! Happy bunnies make happy bunny moms.

Remember that bunnies are prey animals, meaning they will get scared easily if not approached in the right way. Rabbits have eyes on the sides of their head, so they have a blind spot right between their eyes. Do not pet them on their blind spot or back unless you have already introduced your hand to them from the side.

Furthermore, it is not a good idea to pick up a rabbit unless they are very used to you as well as used to the act of being picked up. If they’re not used to it, their instinctual reaction will be to kick, scratch, and even scream! It is possible for bunnies to be scared to death, so approach them with caution and make sure your rabbit is comfortable before being picked up. Start by cradling them on the ground, then pressing them tightly to your chest while you support their feet and bottom. Make sure they feel safe before you proceed to stand up with them. If they don’t want to be picked up, don’t pick them up.

If you are looking to commit to a rabbit, make sure you know what kind you’re getting and subsequently what that breed needs. Spaying/neutering your rabbit can be beneficial for many reasons, including reducing and eliminating risks for cancer, preventing unwanted births in females, and reducing territorial behavior.

Other behaviors to keep in mind include periscoping and flopping. Flopping can often be mistaken as something bad because the rabbit will suddenly fall on its side out of nowhere! Don’t worry — this is actually a good sign and says that your bunny is totally content and relaxed! Periscoping, on the other hand, is when a rabbit “stands up” to try and get a better view of things. It’s important to note that rabbits are extremely curious animals, so they will try to get into anything to check it out! Be sure your wires and cords are hidden away so your bunny can’t get into them.

Rabbits are adorable animals, but they’re also extremely smart and loving. Treat your bunny with affection and be gentle. You’ll find that the time and patience they need from you are beyond worth it in the end.

Note: I am by no means whatsoever a rabbit expert, and this is simply meant to be informative off of my experiences owning a rabbit and research that I have done. Other resources that are useful to check out include binkybunny.com and Lennon The Bunny on YouTube.

 

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