Carolyn Crampton name
  a new bunny  
  I do not recommend getting rabbits as pets. I do recommend giving abandoned animals a good home. Rabbits are not dogs or cats and they can be very destructive as pets. If you can take the time and have the patience, you will learn that they are wonderful, sensitive and loving animals.

Think like a bunny

• Ok, so you’re a baby bunny or you're slightly older and in the pound and someone takes you home, takes you out of the box and puts you in a small wire cage that you can’t get out of. Sits there looking at you. You don't like cages, you are wondering where all the other bunnies went, you are cold, you are terrified! Everything smells and sounds different. Thankfully, all that horrible barking has stopped.

• There are large animals (humans) grabbing you harshly and making you sit on their smelly squishy laps and putting their stinky hands on you (humans smell a lot from a rabbits perspective). You are scared and want to get down on the earth. If you bite the hand, it sometimes lets go. It feels like a matter of life and death. They are going to kill you and eat you. They are the enemy.

• Large animals are yelling at you, grabbing you, children are chasing you, you may smell dogs or other animals. You are confused. You want to stay out of trouble but you don't know how. Where is your mother and your sibling rabbits? It's a living nightmare.

What would be better?

• A quiet calm homecoming. No other pets around. No laps to sit on. Just a chance to get used to the cage, the food, the smells and sounds.

• You are in a small room. Someone is sitting in the room with you. Talking to you friendly-like and calmly. You get used to this person sitting there. This person may give you something nice to eat. Then they will open the top of the cage and go back to sitting down. You may decide to hop out and investigate your surroundings. (This would be a bunny-proofed reason to get yelled at or chased.) The person does not move towards you. You hop around for awhile looking for an exit. You may start digging or knocking things over. The person may snap their fingers and make a loud "NO". You freeze for a minute. You start digging again. Again the loud "NO". This goes on for awhile until you decide to do something else. You may hop on or around the person. It doesn't look like they will hurt you except for yelling "NO" every now and again.

After a time, the person will grab you and put you back in the cage. You will try to get out. You are in prison and it's unfair. Your cage will be in a quiet place, with perhaps a cloth on the top for privacy.

• The next time the person takes you out, they put you straight into the kitty box and encourage you to stay there awhile. The humans put some of your rabbit shit in the litter box so it smells like a place to shit. If you pee they may give you a raisin or a piece of fruit. You repeat what you did before. At the end, the person will put you back in the kitty box for awhile and then into the cage. You will resist going into the cage again, but the person will be very determined and will make sure you don't squirm away. You vow to escape and find your rabbit family in the future but accept the situation for now. The more regular the schedule of getting out of the cage and back in, the easier it is for the rabbit to adjust.

• Your rabbit learns the rules in the small room before he gets any greater freedom. When he messes up in a larger room, he gets a loud "NO" and goes back in the cage. If he squirms or bites, try not to let go. A loud "NO" and back into the cage. When he's good he gets a treat. No hitting, no rubbing noses in it. You must be consistent. It's like teaching a foreign language. You can't force a rabbit to do anything. Be gentle and supportive. This would be a good way to raise kids too!

• It would help to have another bunny in the home, not in the same cage, but alive and well-loved. Don't put them together until the new bunny is certified healthy. But beware, bunnies have pecking orders and one bunny often bullies the other. Bunnies may keep others away from food and kitty boxes and generally harass each other. So keep a close eye on them.

• Make sure bunny is eating and drinking regularly. Bunnies can't be off their food for more than 24-hours. Change food and see if that helps. Try vegetables. See vet immediately.

• There are certain things like rugs, wires, plastic furniture and weather stripping that will always be a challenge.

• Rabbits can actually die from stress. Your job is to help them stay calm and away from stress.

Continue to rabbits in the wild.

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