My fellow Georgians, I have an apology to make: I haven't been entirely truthful with you.
I know! I feel terrible about it, and I deserve every one of the raspberries currently dampening the screens of your defenseless computers. But for all the advancements of the electronic age, we still don't have the ability to code smirks, winks, tongues-in-cheek and tones-of-voice into our e-postings, and I didn't want to be rude or unfriendly when no less than the editor of the Athens Patch herself asked me a direct question: "What kind of rabbit should we get?"
As a member of a long-time multi-pet household, you might have expected me to say "Any kind, yay!" As a believer in animal rescue work, you could be forgiven for expecting a resounding "Any kind, as long as it's adopted!" You already know how passionate I am about my indoor buns, so you might have even been looking for "Any kind, as long as it's fixed, indoors, and adopted!" All of that is true as far as it goes, and my response was something along those lines. And I assure you it was the truth… but it was not the whole truth.
Let me wave all of that pro-adoption, pro-rescue, pro-bunny propaganda aside just for a second, and instead give her (and you, Athens) my real-life, every-time answer to the verbal question "what kind of rabbit should I get?"
"A CHOCOLATE ONE!"
No, seriously. Milk chocolate bunnies are the most common variety, but if you can find a dark chocolate one, those are my favorite. The slight smile you may be imagining on my face might be confusing, so as our current President likes to say, "let me be clear:" Don't go get a real bunny. From anywhere. Okay?
On to the punch line: I mean it.
Admittedly, I do go on about my absolutely fabulous experience with house rabbits. I can ramble on non-stop about how great my Long-ears are. There's likely to be a post or two later about how to "speak" rabbit, and a few about how to play games with them, and some more about how they and our other animals interact peacefully. The picture I paint probably makes everything in the Bunagerie sound like it's all thorn-less roses.
But the honest truth is that having house rabbits, especially for the first time, is a lot like having a new human baby. Having had those too, I can tell you that's not much of an overstatement. Your household needs to be prepared for the new arrival in almost the same way:
- the new bun needs a safe, secure living space, (compare to crib, nursery, car seat)
- you have to stock up on new foods (baby formula, bottles, pumps)
- you need a bunny-proofed space for them to play in (vs. baby-proofing a room or home)
- you need a new system for litter clean-up (diapers, diaper pails, wipes)
- and like all pets, they need regular vet visits (doctor visits and check-ups)
And more than anything else, you need time. Not the 24-7 kind of time that infants require, thank goodness, but if you don't spend the time to learn about rabbit do's and don'ts, and then prepare for them, you're never going to be ready for this fuzzy little bundle of joy you thought was so cute and lovable when you first brought it home. Then there's the hour or two per day (or more) spent in their company watching, socializing, and cleaning up after them… sound familiar, Moms and Dads? I admit that bringing home a bunny is NOT the same as bringing home a baby, but if you've never done the latter the former is great practice.
If you're willing to put in the learning beforehand, and have that daily time to spend with them, by all means read up, ask questions, and feel free to add that wonderful adopted bunny (or pair, or trio, etc.) of your choice to the family. You won't regret it, I certainly never have. I just want everyone to realize that this is exactly what you're doing: adding a unique, fragile, wonderful family member that you can expect to be with you for the next decade, maybe. There's a reason pet adoption agencies call it "finding their forever-home."
So count the cost before you run out and bring home a bunny for your kids. If you wouldn't trust them to raise a baby, then don't trust them with the care of a rabbit.
Get them a chocolate bunny instead.
And just so you know that I'm keeping no more secrets from you, my Gentle Readers, my answer is borrowed from the good people at Make Mine Chocolate! They can be found online at http://www.makeminechocolate.org, and at http://www.makeminechocolate.org.uk. Both sites would love to have your visit.
Have you ever brought home a pet, then realized it was more work than you expected? Have you ever told your children they couldn't have a pet for that very reason? What about giving up a pet because you could no longer take care of it? Get those sad stories off your chest in the comments below!