I never thought I would end up owning a house rabbit and yet somehow that is exactly what I have done. My family have always had pets and we’ve had just about everything from a rat called Tiggles (who took a disliking to my brother which only made me love him more), to the standard goldfish, a long line of German shepherds and a few cats too. Yet as an adult, I’ve somehow found myself becoming the proud owner of a horse and… a house rabbit.
Two years on and I can safely say that Pip, my latte coloured lop cross rabbit, is one of the best pets I’ve ever owned. Far removed from the outdoor rabbits that my brother and I had as children, Pip is full of personality – albeit a bit much from time-to-time – and I don’t think a house will ever be a home again if it isn’t complete with a bunny tripping me up as I walk from room to room.
But what is it really like to own a house rabbit?
They’re both clean and messy
Rabbits are incredibly clean animals. That is, they keep themselves very clean and are easily litter trained (if anything, they train you by letting you know very clearly where it is that they would like their litter tray to be placed). However, they care very little for the cleanliness of your own home. Pip sits and cleans himself to impeccable standards inside his hutch, before bounding off down the hallway leaving a trail of shavings and hay behind him...
Other than the occasional adorable grunt or teeth grind that Pip does when he is happy, and the one time he thumped his foot so loudly it made me leap off the sofa, he is an incredibly quiet animal. And that goes for all rabbits. So, if the idea of being woken up in the early hours of the morning by a demanding cat meowing in your face or having to deal with a dog barking at every squirrel it spots in the garden is your worst nightmare, a rabbit could well be the ideal pet for you.
They like to chew
There is no denying it. Rabbits naturally like to chew. And not just wood, but just about anything they can get their teeth into. Admittedly Pip has, on the whole, learned which items he can and which items he cannot chew. But it took us a long time to get there and we saw a few casualties along the way (in particular multiple phone chargers, all of the buttons on my TV remote and a very expensive phone case that one of my friends owned).
They’re hilarious to watch
There isn’t a day go by where Pip doesn’t make me laugh. And not just a little laugh. A full on, nearly spit your tea out kind of laugh. Whether he is skating along the slippy wooden windowsill to watch the neighbours as they walk past the end of the drive, leaping into the air in a sudden burst of happiness or throwing one of his toys across the room, he is a constant source of joy in the house.
They make great companions
When Pip was younger he did little else but run from one end of the house to another, a little ball of uncontainable energy. However, as he has got a little older, he has begun to calm down a little and he often concludes his sudden burst of energy by hopping up onto the sofa to sit next to me. So it is now rare that he won't sit contently beside me, or occasionally on my lap, for the majority of the evening. Unlike cats that quite often enjoy having their own space, rabbits love the company.
They can be expensive
There seems to be a (completely inaccurate) belief that smaller animals cost less and while to some extent this is true, they are far from being cheap to keep. Before you initially bring your house rabbit home for the first time, you'll need to ensure that you have a large hutch or room for him to live in for starters. Afterwards you'll then have the ongoing costs of bedding, hay, toys (which need to be rotated every few days so that they don't get bored of them) and food. And then you'll also need to factor in the cost of insurance, plus vet bills which not only include the unlucky event of illness but also regular checkups, yearly vaccinations, and any teeth or claw trimming required. They're worth every penny but it's worth noting that you can't buy a rabbit expecting to only pay pennies out on it each month.
They love attention
I firmly believe that anyone who thinks that rabbits don’t love company has never had one. Pip will headbutt me repeatedly if I dare to stop stroking him, he will chase me to the kitchen in an attempt to climb into the fridge to help himself to his greens, and he will follow me through the house wherever I go, acting as my little bouncy shadow.
Having a house rabbit isn't for everyone but neither is owning a horse, or having a dog. However if you're on the fence about welcoming a rabbit into your family, all I have to say is that if you have the time and the money to dedicate to their care, you won't regret your decision. They're loving, hilarious animals that make a wonderful addition to the family.
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