Why is it that many people figure rabbits are dull pets? The answer is simple and obvious. Locking bunnies inside isolated backyard hutches or tiny cages without human interaction causes them to become depressed. As we know with people, depression takes away any incentive to be active. Consequently, rabbits are seen to be boring fur balls who just eat, sleep, and excrete.
I was once of this opinion. Because nobody told me otherwise, I assumed that rabbits were lacking in intelligence and affection. How wrong I was. In 1996, I discovered a newsgroup called alt.pets.rabbits. The things I learned about bunnies amazed me.
Thanks to the friendly folks there, I learned that bunnies can be litter-trained and they lived much longer after being spayed or neutered. The most important lesson I learned is that rabbits can live in our homes like cats and dogs.
Why was that so important? When bunnies are allowed space to play and have humans to hang out with, they come out of their shells and become active. Give a rabbit a cardboard box house with two doors in it and he or she will spend hours playing or sleeping in it. Bunnies also enjoy tossing noise-making objects, like plastic keys for babies, around. Additionally, a toilet paper tube stuffed with hay is a toy as well as a snack to them.
Because most caged rabbits lack social interaction and mental stimulation, they sink into deep depression. Even food isn’t a cause for excitement for those poor creatures. Since their European ancestors lived in large colonies and burrowed underground, lacking a hiding place and companionship is unnatural for them.
House rabbits, like the many that I’ve lived with, developed distinct personalities when I treated them like pets instead of possessions. They each had their own little character quirks as well as likes and dislikes. I’ve also enjoyed interacting with them. Even changing their litter boxes and watching them get all excited when I set the plastic tubs down on the floor for them was always an enjoyable experience.
I wrote a memoir of the first eight years I spent with my long-eared companions in When a Man Loves a Rabbit. I only have a few copies left of this book so e-mail me if you’re interested in buying a copy.