Many people want a baby bunny because they mistakenly believe several myths. Let’s examine some of the myths about baby rabbits and debunk them.
Note: Rabbits are considered babies from 0-3 months, an adolescent or teenager from 3mo-1 year and an adult after 1 year.
1. Myth: A pet store or breeder will correctly identify sex. Fact: It can be very difficult to correctly identify the sex of young rabbits. Incorrect identification is extremely common and regularly results in unwanted litters. Never trust a pet store or breeder to correctly sex young rabbits. Trust a rabbit savvy veterinarian or an animal shelter working with a rabbit savvy veterinarian.
2. Myth: Babies stay docile and cuddly into adulthood — the baby you see is the adult you will get. Fact: Like all creatures rabbits go through stages of development. It’s hard to know what a baby’s adult personality will be. Babies are generally fearless and don’t really mind what you do with them. At puberty (around 3½ months) their self preservation instincts kick in and behavior changes. Teenage rabbits are like (some) teenage humans: messy, amorous, and not cuddly. It doesn’t last forever but it’s when many rabbits are surrendered to an animal shelter. An adult’s personality is more settled and reliable.
3. Myth: Getting a baby is important so the rabbit will bond with you. Fact: Babies are high energy and insatiably curious. They also have an incredibly short attention span. Baby rabbits will adorably fall asleep in your hand. But when awake they are much more interested in exploring their environment and racing around than bonding with you.
4. Myth: I want my young child to grow up alongside a baby rabbit. Fact: Baby rabbits are even more fragile than adult rabbits. A child may unintentionally hurt or kill a baby rabbit when trying to pick up, carry, or cuddle them. After 3½ months most rabbits will struggle, hurting your child or themselves. A large sized, adult rabbit is a much better choice for a child’s companion. An adult must always be the rabbit’s primary caregiver.
5. Myth: It’s easier to litter train a baby. Fact: Just like puppies and toddlers baby rabbits have accidents. When rabbits start developing sexually they will mark territory with both urine and feces (s/n takes care of this). Rabbits who are spayed/neutered are the easiest to litter train.
Dispelling these myths is vital for potential rabbit adopters. Having factual information helps make informed decisions. Next month we’ll look at five more baby rabbit myths in Part Two.
by Amy Ramnaraine
House Rabbit Society Educator, Minnesota