Having a rabbit as a pet can be fun and rewarding. Oftentimes, rabbits are used as a "starter pet" for children because they cost less than a dog or cat to buy and care for. They are soft and cuddly, and when handled gently and often, seldom bite.
Rabbits can live long, up to ten years or so. That in itself can be either a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint. People often view rabbits as something to entertain the kids when they're young. But with a life expectancy as long as a dog, it does make them a long-term commitment. Think ahead.
There are several viruses that can infect your pet rabbit such as RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease) and herpes virus. Fortunately, RHD is not as prevalent in the United States as it is in other countries. Rabbits are also susceptible to bacterial infections, such as Pastuerella, which can cause infections of the nose, ears and eyes. These bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but there are some strains that are resistant.
Rabbits can also be infested with fleas, lice and ear mites. Products available from your veterinarian, such as Revolution and Advantage-Multi for cats have been used to treat and control the parasites on rabbits.
Since rabbits can not throw up, a hairball impaction can cause them serious intestinal problems. Rabbits also need a balanced diet for their bacterial flora to help with their digestion. Introduce new foods slowly so their digestive system can adjust.
Rabbits requires some care, more than a cat, but considerably less than a dog. Frequent brushing also reduces hairball problems and keeps the hair from accumulating in the house. Clipping the tips off the nails will help reduce injuries from scratching to both people and flooring.
Some rabbits can be kept as house pets, much like cats, and can be litter trained. Unlike a cat, they do like to chew more and scratch up things, so it is important to rabbit proof your home and keep electrical cords out of reach. There are furniture guards that can also applied to exposed furniture legs or a bitter apple spray can be used as an extra deterrent.
Giving your pet rabbit lots of things to chew on will help keep him away from the furniture as well as help keep their teeth worn down.If their teeth become to long, a trip to the veterinarian for a quick trim may be necessary.
Vet care is important, but can be expensive. There is an additional problem having a bunny as a pet, there are not a lot of veterinarians with much experience with treating pet rabbits. Finding a good vet in your area can be difficult. If you can find a veterinarian that is willing to treat your rabbit, they can consult with specialists that are on-line by using the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). Often times, there are exotic specialists available in the larger metro areas, or you can find a doctor at a Veterinary University.
Many people really enjoy their rabbits as pets and there are several different kinds to choose from. You can choose a smaller dwarf rabbit to a large Californian rabbit. Before you purchase a rabbit, you can sometimes go to a livestock show and see the rabbits raised by the 4-H and FFA students and choose the kind that appeals to you and your child. There are also photos of all the recognized breeds of rabbits at http://www.arba.net/Breeds.htm. Take the time to research caring for rabbits and the supplies you need before you bring a bunny home.