Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What's Behind the Big Ears?

Today, as proof that my blog guests aren't restricted to writing about writing,  I welcome Georgiana Hall to Terry's Place, with a post that fits right in with Easter. Georgiana (G.G. Hall) is the author of “Hershey-A Tale of a Curious House Rabbit,” which is based on the antics of her own rabbits, especially one named Hershey. Georgiana is a volunteer and educator for the House Rabbit Society, an international organization dedicated to education about rabbit ownership and to rescue efforts. She and her husband Oren Maxwell are both physicists at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. They share their home with four birds and six rescued rabbits.

The other day, a good friend of mine passed away. She was brown and furry, had lopped ears, and weighed about 2 pounds. She was a rabbit named Muffin and was adopted from a shelter 6 years ago. Muffin lived quite the good life, dining on organic greens and herbs, high quality rabbit pellets, and Nebraska hay. She shared a large exercise pen in our family room with her rabbit companion, Peanut, and even had daily supervised runs in the living room. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Yes, she truly lived “the life of Riley,” as the saying goes. But, unfortunately, her life was the exception to that which many a pet rabbit is subjected to.

Every year, people buy rabbits as presents for young children, very often at Easter. These soft, furry creatures, with their large ears and round, curious eyes, melt many hearts. What could be more pleasurable than petting the warm, silky fur of a little rabbit? After all, they are cuddly, eat carrots, and don’t make a lot of noise, right? Well, sort of. But the problem with the adorable little rabbit as a pet is that it is often quickly forgotten about. It lives out a brief life in a little cage or in an outdoor hutch, chewing on strange smelling pellets and probably too many carrots.

Many of these pet rabbits die within six months as a result of a poor diet and unhealthy conditions. Others suffer injuries from being handled incorrectly, often by a small child, who unknowingly squeezes them too tightly. Or, they may be injured by someone picking them up by their long, sensitive ears. If its back is not supported while picking it up, “Fluffy” may kick out his hind legs and injure his spine. He may also grow to a large size and no longer have the cute appeal that he once had. When he finally matures to an adult and his hormones rage, that sweet little rabbit may turn into a “furry Godzilla” by biting his owners or spraying and pooping wherever he pleases to establish territory.

Unfortunately, at this point, the cuddly rabbit that everyone loved and adored at first may face a tragic end. These rabbits are often dumped outdoors or in local parks or abandoned to an animal shelter.

But, there is a bright side to all of this. With proper education, rabbit owners can have a wonderful pet for many years. Rabbits are intelligent, fun-loving, and come in all shapes and sizes. They can be litter-trained, spayed or neutered, and taught to respond to vocal commands.

Although carrots are a favored treat, they should by no means be a major part of “Fluffy’s” diet. Many responsible rabbit owners remark that the produce drawer in their refrigerator is filled with healthy greens and herbs, both wonderful for us and for the rabbit in the house. But certainly, the most important food of all for these herbivores is hay. There are websites devoted to selling different types. And by no means is the pile of hay in “Fluffy’s” home just for chewing and savoring, but can even be a good resting spot when the mood strikes!

Thousands of rabbits across the nation sit in shelters waiting for homes. In fact, the third most abandoned animal at shelters is the rabbit, after cats and dogs. These shelter rabbits are healthy, spayed or neutered, and most likely litter-trained as well. Given the responsibility and complexity of these lovely animals, perhaps the chocolate Easter bunny or even a toy stuffed one is truly the better choice for a child in the family. However, if a rabbit is the desired pet, then hopefully the potential owner will first consider their needs and then consider giving a rescue a second chance.

For more, visit G.G.'s website, www.gghall.com to learn more about rabbits and the book. It is available as a paperback and an e-book on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you are interested in finding out more about adopting a rescued rabbit, please feel free to contact her at hersheytherabbit@gmail.com

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Dana said...

Thank you for spreading the word the RABBITS ARE NOT TOYS! They are a long-term commitment for just the right person. Well said!

Ronda said...

Thanks for sharing your blog with bunny people Terry. Those of us that rescue rabbits appreciate every opportuinty to tell people about rabbits as pets, and G.G. did a wonderful job writing about them. For those who aren't quite ready to make the 12+ year committment to add one to their family, may I suggest a stuffed one to hug and a chocolate one to eat, while you settle down with G.G.'s book about Hershey the curious house rabbit!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks so much for being my guest, GG. I hope people won't be buying bunnies as 'toys' this Easter.

Karen C said...

I appreciate this post. We never gave rabbits or chicks as 'gifts' - we always went for the stuffed animals and chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I grew up with many lovely rabbits from my earliest memories and really miss them but right now have no safe place for one (given that a dear formerly outdoor cat in need found us first). Someday rabbits will be included again, maybe with more doors to separate the cat! I am sorry to hear so many are having so many problems. Thanks for letting us know!!!! The next time someone who has a good & safe home for rabbits is thinking of a pet I'll show them this article.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for talking about my favorite beings, bunnies. My bunsters bring much joy to my life but need lots of care and money.

I wouldn't be without bunny rabbits for all the hay in the world.