Wild Rabbits as Pets

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"Wild Rabbits as Pets"
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Rabbits, domestic or wild, are not designed to become pets for humans. After working in the animal charity sector for several years, I came across many cases of rabbits living in appalling conditions and leading a miserable life. The truth is that many people do see rabbits as an easy option when it comes to choosing a pet. They believe that leaving the rabbit in a confined space for most of the day then handling them occasionally is all you need. This could not be further from the truth.

Rabbits like to burrow, it is what they are designed to do. They also do not like to be fondled or picked up and they prefer, by design, to operate at night. The horrendous life a rabbit leads whilst stuck in a tiny hutch where it can neither roam nor burrow is unimaginable. Then to be faced with the prodding and petting from a human just makes it worse. They are intelligent animals that like to socialise and roam and dig. They are not designed to be with humans.

Bearing in mind that we have just looked at the so called "domestic" rabbit. The wild rabbit is even further away from making a good pet. The shock to the system that any wild animal receives when handled by human is enough to kill them. I have seen it happen. Many a time a well meaning family have taken home a "stray" young wild rabbit thus removing it from its natural habitat and,more importantly, away from its mother. Arriving at the scene I have then come face to face with a shaking, cowering young animal absolutely terrified and more often than not, unable to be returned to the wild. So many times have I heard "I think it is cold. That is why it is shaking". No it shakes because of fear. Removed from its home environment these animals will often die quickly or if returned to the wild not make it very far.

The diet that is commonly given to rabbits is unsuitable as well. This off the shelf rabbit "food" can often lead to painful dental problems later on. Wild rabbits eat grass amongst other things, not cereal or muesli. They also suffer from fly strike when kept in unsuitable conditions. This is where the animal is eaten alive by flesh eating maggots. I have witnessed fly strike on many occasions and it is horrendous.

A rabbit can last for ten years and over its lifetime it can cost the "owner" 3000 or more. After witnessing the trauma that these animals go through during their captivity I would never recommend any rabbit as a pet, wild or otherwise. They are intelligent social and dynamic animals and the way they are treated is a disgrace. Often I was called to a"domestic" rabbit that had been abandoned by its owners. After being left in the wild it would be sick and weak, often very thin and always very confused and frightened. The wild rabbit is of course also susceptible to myxomatosis, a horrendous disease introduced in Australia to control the rabbit population and then brought to France illegally from where it spread through out Europe. Tumours, or
myxoma, develop around the head and genitals of the animal while the animal also starts to suffer from conjunctivitis leading to blindness. It then becomes very weak and fragile and will often suffer from lung problems. It is an agonising and slow death and it is amazing how many people do not look at vaccination for this disease.

Wild rabbits are designed for the wild. They are designed to roam and play and socialise. They are not designed to be caged and left to rot psychologically as well as physically. They do not like to be lifted up or handled and the pressure that people exert to keep their "pet" still can lead to internal injuries.

Please think about all of this the next you wish to keep a rabbit and think whether you would like to be confined in a box barely bigger than yourself and left for hours on your own. Or would you rather run in open fields, socialize, eat what nature intended you to eat and have all of the countryside at your disposal? I think I know what I would prefer.

More about this author: John Hewitt - 510028

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