Rabbits are nowhere near as popular a pet as cats or dogs, but nonetheless, around 2% of UK adults care for at least one rabbit. They can be a rewarding pet to own, and a great place to start for younger pet-lovers – but they are also very misunderstood as animals. Here are four particularly pernicious myths about the animal:
#1 – Rabbits Only Eat Carrots
Bugs Bunny has a lot to answer for, being the popular progenesis of a rampant misunderstanding over the dietary habits of the common rabbit. While it is true that rabbits may be partial to a bit of carrot here and there, they do not form a natural part of a rabbit’s diet and should be given in strict moderation. Rabbits actually require a much more complex form of diet, that incorporates roughage and leafy greens. Roughage forms the largest constituent part of a rabbit diet, as domestic rodents need plenty of feeding hay specially formulated for rabbits and other small animals. Food pellets can serve to introduce other nutrients, but hay and leaves are the primary foodstuffs.
#2 – Rabbits Don’t Need Veterinary Care
Due to the stature and perceived low-maintenance stature of rabbits, it is commonly believed that they require less veterinary care than other animals do. This is categorically false, and not ensuring your rabbit receives regular check-ups could lead to serious illness. Rabbits should be checked annually by a vet, at the very least. They also require vaccination against two diseases which pose a real risk to them: myxomatosis and VHD respectively. You may also want to neuter your rabbit, to improve their cleanliness and prevent any complications from pregnancy.
#3 – Rabbits are Dirty Animals
There is a common myth that suggests rabbits are particularly dirty, on account of being rodents. Their hutch-life and habits can often be misconstrued as messy, and the myth is perpetuated yet further by the potentially stinky behaviour of unneutered rabbits, who like to ’spray’ at times. The truth is that rabbits are otherwise remarkably clean animals, and get just about as dirty as any other household pet – if not less dirty overall. Cleaning your pet rabbit on a regular basis may be a good habit to form, but they certainly do not roll around in their own mess – and can often be litter-trained to help their hutch stay even cleaner.
#4 – Rabbits are Low-Commitment and Low-Maintenance
Lastly, the stature and genial nature of many domestic rabbit breeds lead people to believe that their rabbit will be a low-maintenance pet – one they can leave alone for extended periods of time, one which requires little in the way of targeted care and treatment, and one which will only survive for a few years at most. Rabbits actually live for up to a decade and are much more social than you may realise. Regular contact and attention can improve their quality of life greatly, while their hutches require regular cleaning to keep them comfortable.