Rabbits have not been domestic pets for nearly as long as dogs, cats, even horses. Buns are pretty new on the scene, really. So, we just don't know as much about them. And they haven't had as long to acclimate to us either.
There are a few super common misconceptions about rabbits that we'd like to see go away right now. Spread the word - share the info! Post it to groups and forums! Advocate for rabbits! We can all do something, one little thing, to change the way people see these wonderful creatures.
MYTH #1: Carrots are a perfect treat for a rabbit.
Why do so many rabbit images include carrots????? Carrots might be yummy, and for humans they are certainly healthy. But for rabbits, the high sugar content is a problem. Not only carrots, but other veggies and fruits are special treats to be given in tiny, itty bitty amounts. Like half a raisin...that is the kind of tiny we are talking. And then only a few times a week at most. Carrot TOPS (the leaves, all green no orange), now, are terrific as part of the fresh greens diet.
MYTH #2: As long as rabbits get some pelleted food, they'll be fine.
Grabbing a bag of pelleted food from the pet store is NOT sufficient nutrition for your rabbit. Rabbits need at least 80% of their diet to be hay, then they need several types of fresh greens each day. Adding herbs and edible flowers is a great way to round out the nutrition. If you do feed pelleted food, make sure you keep the amounts low (1/8 cup per day for 6 lb rabbit), and also make sure you are getting pellets that use first-quality hay (not filler hay). Pellets should be a rich green and smell good, like hay!
MYTH #3: Unwanted pet rabbits will have a good "natural" life if you let them loose outside rather than rehoming them or taking them to a shelter.
Domestic rabbits are not wild rabbits. Period. House rabbits can not survive outside on their own, and will end up being injured, ill, and, well, prey. Very quickly. Never ever make the mistake that a house rabbit can survive like a wild rabbit does. Shelters and rescues may be crowded and understaffed, but they are the best chance an unwanted rabbit has to find a forever home.
MYTH #4: Rabbits make a great pet for kids, and the children can be in charge of the rabbit chores.
No doubt, rabbits can make terrific companion animals for households with children. Rabbits are a great fit for families where everyone is involved in the care, with the parent being the responsible person. Teaching children to form a friendship with a rabbit is invaluable...they can learn so very much about how different beings can love each other. However...rabbits are not "starter pets". Rabbits can be frightened easily, and children must learn to respect the buns and "think like a rabbit", or injuries and unhappiness result. Rabbits do require a good deal of care - the pen needs daily cleaning, there are fresh greens to buy for each day, exotic vets can be hard to find. And when the buns are mishandled or ignored, aggression can develop - which usually means the rabbit either ends up alone and miserable, forgotten in the basement, or at a shelter.
MYTH #5: Rabbits are safe kept outdoors provided the hutch is sturdy.
Wildlife is crafty. Foxes, raccoons, hawks...these creatures can't e faulted for doing what they do to survive. These predators can come in from the bottom, pry bits away, tear, rip, and tip. The thing is this: even if you do manage to think of everything, and build a hutch like a vault, one that can't even be tipped over by a bear, the rabbit inside is still terrified during an attempted attack. Rabbits can easily die of fright. It happens all the time. If they don't die of fright, they can injure themselves trying to hide or escape from the attacker. Remember - rabbits have a great sense of smell. They KNOW when danger is near. As soon as they know there is a predator nearby, they are on high alert or in hide/escape mode. Your rabbit will also be subject to fleas and fly strike. So...no. Just no. House rabbits belong indoors.
Have you got a rabbit myth that needs to be busted? Share it with us! And in the meantime, let's all do our part educating everyone who will listen. Let's make the world a little better for all the buns.