I never thought we’d ever have a house rabbit, but now we have three, and we love them so much. I feel like we talk about them constantly.
A lot of people have said, after hearing me talk about them, that they’d like house rabbits themselves. And they can be wonderful and it can be a fantastic decision! But there are the things I don’t tell you, as well. And maybe I’m doing everyone a disservice in not sharing some of the more difficult aspects of being a bunny parent.
So, here’s a quick crash course in getting a house rabbit.
Why do you want a house rabbit?
As far as I can tell, you probably want a house rabbit if you can answer yes to at least one of the following questions.
- Do you think that there isn’t enough hay in your house right now? Because within six months, your house will be 80 per cent hay. You can vacuum and sweep as much as you like, but that stuff will get everywhere. You will be cleaning constantly. (All of these pictures I see online of immaculate rabbit homes – I can only assume that they were taken in the three minutes after cleaning. Please let me continue to assume that!)
- Do you not have enough worries in your life? Rabbits can help. “Is he eating enough? Why is her urine that colour? Does his stomach usually make that much noise? What were the symptoms of GI stasis again?”
- Does it bother you when all of your cables are intact? Your new house rabbit can help! Chewing through cables is a specialty many of them have been working towards their whole lives. And you might even get to make new (human) friends at your local hardware shop when you have to go in every week to buy new phone cords!
- Do you like answering the same questions again and again from friends and family? “So, they live inside? Like, in the house?” “You know they eat their own poo, right?” “Aren’t they just really boring pets? Why not get a dog instead?” “Don’t they die really easily?” (Yes, yes, no, we prefer rabbits, and I really hope not!)
Do you like being watched mournfully every time you eat anything? Fruit, vegetables, meat, cake, biscuits, crisps… I mean literally anything. For bonus points, do you enjoy not being able to look away from your food for 30 seconds because a greedy bunny might have taken it by the time you’ve looked back? I’ve known my rabbits to lick the salt from the inside of an empty packet of crisps, and even snatch a cookie or a bit of toast directly from my mouth. What can I say, these guys know what they like! (And no, they don’t care that most human food is bad for them. They love grapes, apples and greens but I think they’d still choose chocolate over all of those if given the option.)
- Do you like repeating the word “Noooo” more times than if you had an unruly toddler? “Nooo, you don’t need to go in the airing cupboard/climb behind the TV/stop your brother from going on the stairs” are phrases in constant use in our house.
- Do you want to have weird barricades all over your house? Now, we didn’t actually intend to have house rabbits. We intended to have rabbits, the outdoor kind that most people expect. But when Ned and Gingee came home, they were so small and we enjoyed spending time with them so much that there was no way they could be sent to live outside. So we ended up doing most of our bunny-proofing as and when needed. So we have raggedy cushions blocking off the TV, boxes under tables to stop eager rabbits hiding there, and many other terribly attractive features in our home. This could be your reality too!
- Are you looking for a way to stop taking too many holidays? We’ve not been away for more than a night since we adopted the boys. That was in October 2015. They don’t really like other people and we don’t feel comfortable taking them somewhere for boarding. I know this one is our hang-up in particular, but, yeah. They don’t get left alone very much.
- Have you always wanted to be on first name terms with everyone in your local vet surgery? And maybe, if you’re lucky, the not-so-local specialist as well! Rabbits need to go to the vet more than you’d think. They get sick a lot, and if you have a sick rabbit, you could well be there every week. We had a regular weekly slot (Friday at about 5.20) for about two months. When Ned stopped being so sick, we adopted Barbara and she moved right into the Friday vet slot.
- Have you got too much money lying around? Vet bills can add up quickly. If you get lucky and end up with special needs bunnies, insurance might not help. And rabbit health problems usually need to be dealt with immediately – so if she gets sick at night, that’s the out-of-hours vet.
Wait, there is still good stuff about having a house rabbit, right?
But, you know what? Every terrifying, exhausting, why-am-I-holding-a-broom-yet-again moment is worth it.
I wouldn’t exchange these funny little hopping loaves for the cleanest house in the world, the most stress-free life ever, or the ability to eat a meal in peace.
These little guys and girl are our family. There’s no better feeling than when Barbara reaches up to touch noses, Gingee bops his head against your hand, or Ned demands a cuddle. Watching them interact with each other is so much fun. We have “rabbit parties” at least twice a day, where they run around, climb on us and everyone has a great time.
So, uh, should I get a house rabbit or not?
… Yes. Get two. They like company.