The Story of Buggy Bunny, Our Beloved Pet Rabbit
We bought our daughter a baby rabbit for a pet when she was two years old. She couldn't say "Bugs," so he became "Buggy." We took this little Rex-mix bunny home and then got online to find out how to care for him properly. We found out all kinds of things—including that they are not recommended as pets for small children. They claw and some are biters.
Choosing the Right Cage and Bedding
We read about what kind of cage to choose, and we got one with close-woven wire on the floor (the cages with wire that are farther apart can hurt their feet). We also made sure he had plenty of room. We made sure to get the correct bedding for him. We read that there were two kinds of wood bedding: pine and cedar. Cedar chip bedding is poisonous to rabbits and can make them very sick. Make sure to get the pine bedding, or the shredded paper bedding.
Selecting the Right Food
They eat hay, commercial rabbit pellets, and love vegetables and fruit. We always shared our bananas with him. He got his pick of the peelings and some of all the vegetables we had. We did find a few that he didn't eat but not many. We pulled fresh grass for him and he ate that, too. He also loved apples and watermelon but not citrus. Surprisingly, rabbits should not be given a lot of carrots or other root vegetables. They are too high in sugar. Dark-colored lettuces are the best over the light-colored; they have more nutrients. Light amounts of fruits and vegetables are best. Hays and grasses are best, as they help wear the teeth down and keep their tummies healthy.
We Let Him Loose for Playtime
We watched and this little rabbit grew but never seemed to claw or bite. He fit right into our family. We had him in a cage until my husband read on one of his fact-finding searches that they made good house pets loose. We would take him out and play with him several times a day, but he lived in his cage most of the time.
We learned that rabbits could be litter box trained. Cool, we were going to try this. We got a litter box, turned him loose on it, and stepped back to see what happened. We watched, he grew. He used the litter box most of the time. At least he just missed with the solid pellets. I could live with that, he didn't miss by much. He just didn't get his back feet in the box. It was on tile covered by tarp and an old mat. I just swept it up. He did get better at it. He slept in the cage and went in there to rest. We just put it on the floor with the door propped open.
Our Dog Took a Mothering Role
We had a big, gentle female mixed breed dog that mothered him. She would groom him and follow him around. She would bring him to us when we could not find him, just by telling her to find Buggy. She did the same when the hamsters got out of their cage. We would tell her to find the hamster. She would run around the house sniffing until she found the hamster. If she could reach it, she would bring it to us, damp but safe. If she could not reach the hamster, she would yip and get our attention so we could come get it. One got into her dog food bag once. She went nuts barking at the bag. We thought she wanted to be fed, but she had food in her bowl. We finally went to get her some food and there was a hamster. We hadn't even discovered it had escaped yet.
Our little growing bunny was fun to have around. He would sit under the rocking love seat. That was his spot. He would peek out from under and watch what was going on. The dog would stick her nose under and they would play. It never got serious. She was a big dog but gentle.
Rabbits Need to Chew
Buggy loved to have an old phone book to play with. We would put it down in the middle of the room and he would rip pages out. He also chewed on it. Rabbit's teeth grow for their whole lives. They have to chew on things or they can grow out through their jawbones. Either give them something to chew or you will have to nip them, like cutting a dog's nails. We gave him wood. Not cedar, it is poisonous to them. We gave him pine, poplar, and oak. They were in our yard so we just gave him a piece of firewood or a fallen branch. He had a ball. I used the ShopVac a lot. They also need their claws clipped occasionally. In nature, they would wear them down by digging. I used the dog nail clippers. Just don't clip them too short or you can make them bleed. If you are afraid to do these things, use the vet.
Make sure to anchor your electrical cords out of their reach too, they think those are great to chew on. I had one chewed through before we caught him. They can get electrocuted by chewing on the cords.
Buggy Loved to Watch TV
Rabbits like to watch TV. We would sit down to watch TV and he would come out from under to watch with us. Sometimes from the seat next to us, sometimes on our laps, sometimes on the floor. He would stare at the TV if it was on. His head would move back and forth with the action.
Buggy Had a Sense of Humor
When we had guests, he thought it was funny to sneak up under the chair they sat on and poke them in the back of the ankle. They would jump and get all excited until they found out it was the rabbit. You could just about see him laugh over that one. He had quite a sense of humor. He had a hard plastic ball that he would bat around and chase after. He had many similarities to a cat in that respect.
Losing Him Was Hard
We lost our Buggy after five years. We had other rabbits by then. We had put him outside for a few hours to breed with a female rabbit we had, who was almost identical to him in looks except her spots were black instead of gray. We left for a few hours knowing they were safe. They were in a chain-link kennel with chain link on top of it. It had a chain-link floor so nothing could dig in or out. When we came back, Buggy was missing, the female was dead, and the cage was cut open. Someone had deliberately cut it to let their dog in. We never found him or any sign of him. We lost heart about having rabbits after losing him and eventually got rid of the other rabbits. I still miss him and it has been many years.
Thank You for Reading
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Becky Katz