story & photos by Chellie Bowman
Thousands of domestic rabbits are abandoned (“set free”) or surrendered in the months following the Easter Holiday every year in the U.S., as adorable bunnies purchased as holiday surprises seemingly become less adorable when the reality of their care and upkeep become apparent. In fact, this is exactly how I ended up with my Bunsy, a gorgeous and rather large grey rabbit whom I found living under some cars at the end of my street in the early months of summer and who, over the span of several days, I trapped and brought home.
Though I planned to merely foster the little guy and send him on his way to a forever home – I had no experience with rabbits before and had two cats already – I ended up falling in love and can’t imagine my home without him in it. These are the two aspects to having a pet rabbit – they are not for everyone and take unique care, space, and consideration, but those who are able to adopt one will soon find that they can make great addition to your family. And like cats and dogs, they have individual personalities and a relationship with one can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Before you commit to owning a rabbit, be sure that your existing family members are
‘rabbit-friendly.’ Dogs and cats can have a prey instinct that would be dangerous to your bunny.
Deciding to get a new pet is always a huge responsibility. A lot of research is involved and serious decisions have to be made. This is definitely the case when it comes to deciding to adopt a rabbit which, despite common belief, can live up to 10 – 12 years with proper care. Potential owners must ask themselves if they have the time and unique space for a rabbit. While there are many opinions on the subject of care – just as there are in the cat and dog world – my suggestion, as the mama of an adorable bunny myself, is you should probably not get a rabbit unless you either have a room that you can dedicate to him or her, it can have free run of your house (which requires time in training, bunny proofing, and constant sweeping of hay), or you’re able to make or build a large enclosure indoors and dedicate several hours a day to letting your rabbit out for exercise and interaction.
People are often surprised that Bunsy lives out in the house with the cats, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Rabbits are extremely social animals and can be easily litter box trained. This is not to say it does not take time and careful introduction (to other pets) and training. But I did my research and was greatly rewarded with a sweet rabbit that jumps on the couch for cuddles, hops around the house begging for treats, and gets along famously with my cats.
The payoff for sweeping up your rabbit’s hay? Soft, sweet snuggles.
There are many rabbits in need of adoption in the Mid-South and in West/Middle Tennessee. Because rabbits are often surrendered you can contact local shelters to see if there are any up for adoption. It’s also worth calling veterinary offices as well. Rabbits are considered exotic pets so you will need to find a veterinarian that specializes in them. Locally, I recommend Dr. Nation at Berclair Animal Hospital on 5169 Wheelis Dr., 38117.
Here are a few other resources in Tennessee and Arkansas:
Clover Patch Sanctuary: cloverpatchsanctuary.com/
Bunny Rescue, Nashville: facebook.com/bunny.rescuenashville/
Angel Maggie’s Memorial Sanctuary, White House: angelmaggies.org/
Arkansas Pet Rabbit Network, facebook.com/ARPRN/