Rabbits are one of the most popular small exotics, with over 2 million bunnies kept as pets in the United States. Despite this, some persistent misinformation exists about pet rabbits and their care. Unfortunately, these misconceptions often wind up costing the rabbits themselves, when their owners buy them unprepared.
Thousands of bunnies are abandoned or surrendered to shelters each year, the third most frequently surrendered animal after cats and dogs. Before you let a cute bunny hop into your life, get the facts and get prepared! Here are 14 common myths and misconceptions about rabbits, examined and brought to light.
The 14 Rabbit Myths And Misconceptions
1. Rabbits Only Eat Carrots
We can probably blame Bugs Bunny for this one, but one of the most common myths about rabbits is that their primary food source is carrots.
2. Rabbits Are Low-Maintenance Pets
Another harmful myth about rabbits is that they are low-maintenance and don’t require much care. This misconception often leads to a rabbit serving as a starter pet for kids or those who want to dip their toes into the waters of pet ownership with a minimal time commitment.
3. Rabbits Don’t Need To Go To The Vet
Speaking of health care, another myth about rabbits is that they don’t need regular vet care. Most people know that cats and dogs require shots, flea preventatives, and other routine medical care. Those who fall for the myth that rabbits don’t need these may be tempted to get one just to save some dollars on vet care.
4. Rabbits Prefer To Live Outside
Wild rabbits live outside so why wouldn’t pet ones? Or so goes the myth, anyway. Many potential rabbit owners believe their rabbits would be the happiest living outside in a hutch rather than indoors with the family.
5. Rabbits Stink And Make a Mess
One reason rabbit owners might be tempted to house their pets outdoors is because of another misconception: that rabbits are messy and smelly pets. Owning any pet means accepting a certain amount of mess, but for some reason, people hold onto the myth that rabbits are particularly stinky and disorderly.
6. Rabbits Like To Be Held
Because most rabbits look like adorable, living stuffed animals, it’s easy to assume that they would be as cuddly as one too. This thinking gives rise to the misconception that rabbits love to be held and snuggled.
7. Rabbits Don’t Scratch or Bite
Rabbits have a reputation of being timid animals, scared of their own shadow, and unable to defend themselves. Because of this, many people have the misconception that pet rabbits won’t scratch or bite, even if handled improperly.
8. Rabbits Can Live In Small Cages
One major appeal of exotic pets versus dogs and cats is that they often don’t take up as much space. This has led to the misconception that rabbits, especially dwarf breeds, can live happily in small cages.
9. Rabbits Can Be Left Alone For Several Days
One major downside of pet ownership is the necessity of finding care for your animals anytime you want to stay away from home. Because rabbits don’t need to be walked, potential bunny owners may assume they can safely leave their pets alone for several days. But this, as you probably guessed, is another misconception.
10. Rabbits Are a Short-Term Commitment
This may be one of the saddest misconceptions about rabbits and one which often leads to them becoming homeless. Many people purchase pet bunnies under the mistaken assumption that they will only live for a year or two. Aware that cats and dogs routinely live into their teenage years, they may opt for the pet they believe will be a short-term commitment only.
11. You Can’t Travel With a Rabbit
We’ve established that it isn’t safe to leave a rabbit on their own while you leave town. But what if you want to skip the pet sitter and take your rabbit with you? Many people love traveling with their dogs, while more and more cat owners are joining the trend. Rabbit owners are often under the misconception that they can’t travel with their pets.
12. Rabbits Don’t Overeat
Another myth about rabbits is that they’ll only eat as much food as they need. Rabbit owners may assume they don’t need to measure the food they offer because their rabbits won’t overeat and become overweight.
13. Rabbits Can’t Live With Dogs And Cats
Because rabbits are naturally prey animals, many people assume that they can’t live in the same house with pets they would view as predators, like dogs and cats. While cats and bunnies may never become cuddle buddies, it’s a misconception that they can’t safely co-exist.
14. Rabbits Don’t Need To Be “Fixed” If They Live Alone
The reproductive skill of rabbits is well-known. As prey animals, the survival of a rabbit species hinges on their ability to produce more bunnies than are ultimately eaten by predators. Unless you want to be overrun with baby rabbits, it makes sense to spay and neuter opposite-sex pairs. However, it’s a misconception that there’s no benefit to doing the same for single bunnies.
While rabbits can make fantastic pets who bring amusement and joy to their owners, you must do your research on these animals before you commit. As we’ve learned, there are many misconceptions surrounding rabbit ownership, and the bunnies are the ones who usually suffer for it. Don’t fall victim to an impulse buy of an adorable rabbit only to find you were unprepared for their long-term care.
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Featured Image Credit: Mandz11, Pixabay