Though Easter is months away, I feel I must warn folks about the cost of having a house rabbit. Like dogs and cats, rabbits have their own diseases which require veterinary care. Furthermore, neglecting symptoms is a dangerous thing to do since bunnies are prey animals. They hide their ailments from predators until they become extremely ill.
Not only do rabbits require veterinary care but they must be taken to doctors who specialize in exotic animals and are knowledgeable about rabbit ailments. I learned this lesson the hard way when I moved to the hamlet of Radway. The local vet claimed that he knew how to diagnose and treat rabbit illnesses. Like a fool, I trusted him.
But as the years passed, I grew dissatisfied with his callous and rough treatment of my beloved long-eared friends. The worst example of this was when my bunny Mark developed abscesses on his cheeks. Instead of offering to send samples of the abscess liquid to be analyzed, the vet just gave me a few syringes of Baytril and a bill. I kept asking him about why these abscesses reoccurred but he said they were merely filled with saliva.
When I noticed that Mark kept tossing his head up as he ate lettuce or hay, that local vet treated me like a hypochondriac. He even said he couldn’t find anything wrong with Mark’s teeth.
After one examination, the vet noticed a half-inch-long tusk of a tooth growing in the back of Mark’s mouth. “How can you, being blind, figure out that he had that long tooth?” the vet asked when he dropped my bunny off at my door. I felt so stunned at his obtuseness that I couldn’t answer him. Anybody could tell that there was something drastically wrong with my rabbit’s mouth.
Though I spent a total of thirteen-hundred dollars at a rabbit-savvy vet clinic in Sherwood Park, I felt it was worth it to get the proper prognosis. Mark had developed an infection in his jaw as a result of that local vet’s incompetence. My suspicion about my bunny’s malady was vindicated.
A year ago, my neighbour gave me a lift to her vet in Fort Saskatchewan. I made the painful decision to have Mark put to sleep so he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. Even with antibiotic beads and other expensive procedures, the Sherwood Park vet assured me that Mark would succumb to his infection in the long run.
If you find yourself tempted to buy a cute little bunny this Easter, think long and hard about the care of your long-eared companion. Visit the House Rabbit Society for all the information you need and more about rabbit care. You won’t be misled as the contributors to the site have vast practical experience with bunnies.
I also wrote about the lessons I learned in my best-selling memoir When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies. Along with good advice, you’ll read about how charming and intelligent rabbits are.