For two months, I’ve fostered a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit named Rhubarb for the Austin Animal Center. He was only two months old when he was brought to the shelter, and needed a foster until he could be neutered at four months. I have extensive experience with horses, dogs, and cats, so thought that caring for a rabbit couldn’t be too difficult.
I was wrong.
Because they are so cute, I assumed rabbits would be cuddly creatures. However, Rhubarb did not like being held, which I learned is because (unlike dogs and cats) rabbits are prey animals, and being held makes them feel too vulnerable.
Because they seem placid, I assumed rabbits wouldn’t be destructive. Then Rhubarb rapidly chewed through three of my cables, which weren’t cheap to replace. Perhaps this is why so many bunnies end up spending most of their time bored in hutches rather than getting the enrichment they need to thrive.
Because they are small, I assumed rabbits are weak. Then I experienced the surprising strength of Rhubarb’s back legs as he tried to jump out of my arms – an event I didn’t let happen because of how easily a rabbit can break his spine.
Yikes. No wonder it’s estimated that 80 percent of rabbits obtained as Easter Bunny presents are relinquished to shelters. It seems that too many of us are distracted by the wiggle-nosed, plush-toy appearance of rabbits before doing research on what it takes to successfully care for them.
All these topics and more were covered in Rhubarb’s Pet of the Week spot on Fox News. Outfitted in a harness to ensure he wouldn’t break free and chew through all the wires in the studio, Rhubarb charmed the anchors whom he allowed to hold him during the spot. This dapper little dude is available for adoption: he’s litter box trained, and well-socialized with cats, dogs and supervised toddlers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to meet him.