The rabbit is not an animal for children: much loved, but also all too often a victim of abandoned

Welcome back dear Packmates! I am Anastasia, a volunteer rapporteur from the Enpa of Parma for exotic animals, as well as a student of veterinary medicine, and as of today I am also part of this beautiful team. Today I would like to talk to you about the rabbit, an unconventional pet (Nac), also classified as exotic, very common in Italy (think it is in third place after the dog and cat!), But also a victim of neglect and ignorance about its management and its ethology.
Maybe not everyone knows: the rabbit is not a baby animal.

Its tender and fun aspect makes children fall in love (and not only!) And for this reason it often becomes one of the animals chosen as a gift for the little ones. Since no animal should be considered a gift and that its entry into the family should be the result of a conscious and considered choice of all members, remember that the rabbit in the wild is a prey and as such it is always on alert, does not like loud noises, which he is very afraid of, nor being picked up or forced. A child, especially a small one, will tend to use a high tone that scares the rabbit a lot, he will want to hug him, pick him up, risk losing the animal if the skeleton is very delicate and fragile, provoking him, as too much it often happens, of the severe bone fractures, even fatal. For these reasons, the role of an adult is essential in educating and guiding children to the correct approach and interaction with this wonderful animal that has nothing less than a dog or a cat.
But let’s start talking about the rabbit and its needs in detail.

The rabbit is a strict herbivore, which means that its proper and natural diet is represented by fresh vegetables, grass and hay. Vegetables can be fed once or twice a day without overdoing in quantities, so to speak a handful at a time is fine, while hay should always be present in unlimited quantities.
This is because the rabbits’ teeth never stop growing and the chewing of the hay allows a continuous consumption, not to mention that, no less important factor, the intake of fiber is essential for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal system and health . general for this animal.
It is possible to give as a reward from time to time, or as a dietary supplement, small cylinders with compressed grass called “pills”, as long as they do not contain grains or seeds in their composition.
“But my grandmother / cousin / neighbor has always given dry bread, cereal and seeds to the rabbits, and they have always survived.”
It would be interesting to understand how long and how these animals lived? The life expectancy of a rabbit today is around 10-12 years, but malnutrition leads to severe dental problems and related abscesses, gastrointestinal fermentations, intestinal blockages and death.
Unfortunately, most of the food and snacks sold in supermarkets and pet stores are harmful.
Always and only rely on the instructions of a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals or associations caring for these animals for proper feeding and management of the rabbit.
I never get tired of repeating that the rabbit has to live freely 24 hours a day for the fences that you find for sale on the internet and in well-stocked stores. Their use is very convenient both for the animal, which in this way is not forced into a small space, and for us humans, as it constitutes a dynamic solution as well as usually cheaper than a cage. The rabbit is an extremely clean and odorless animal; several times during the day you can see him clean his fur carefully, often even after pampering it (yuck! How disgusting is the human smell!). As for the needs, it is possible to get him used to the use of the litter box, as it always tends to get dirty in a normal place. To get him used to it, just collect his excrement the first few times and put them in a box, like the cat’s, preferably where he’s dirty and reward him when you see him use it. I also recommend placing the hay rack on top of the box as rabbits tend to do their own thing while eating.
Very often you will notice a change in your furry friend’s behavior around the age of 5-6 months; our pets could actually start leaving urine and feces around to mark the territory. This change corresponds to the beginning of puberty, and at this stage your cute rabbit can become a “werewolf” by becoming very nervous, aggressive and sometimes biting. What to do at this point? The solution is certainly not to find another home for him, refer him to the balcony or worse, leave him to his fate in a park. In fact, you can contact the veterinarian specializing in exotic animals of your choice and arrange for sterilization. For females, this operation represents an almost life-saving practice, as 80% of the non-sterilized female rabbits undergo malignant uterine tumors after the first year of age. In men, the incidence of testicular cancer is lower even though it is still present, and sterilization is a practice that allows him to live peacefully. An unsterilized male will tirelessly continue to flirt with you, feel around, spray his own urine on you, and maintain an aggressive attitude toward humans and animals out of frustration at not being able to satisfy a strong need, notoriously typical of rabbits. mate often. Do not be afraid to make this decision, sterilization is now a routine practice with very low risks if it is performed by an updated veterinarian specializing in exotic animals, and it is important to guarantee the rabbit’s psycho-physical well-being.

A rabbit safe house
The rabbit is a very tenacious animal: if he puts one thing in his head, there will be no reproach that will hinder him from carrying out his plan. This also applies to the problems he can cause around the house. For this it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that with his arrival you will have to rearrange the rooms to preserve furniture and other objects from possible gnawing, lifting from the ground or putting all the electrical cables inside the cable covers and eliminate from its charged range batteries, headphones etc. If you have balconies, it will be necessary to cover the railing with a net to prevent any dramatic accidents and to protect or move the plants, which very easily becomes a very comfortable meal for your friend.

Maintenance costs and periodic care
In everyday life, it is not particularly expensive to keep a rabbit. Things change if your friend gets sick, as a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals is, on average, significantly more expensive than a veterinarian who deals with dogs and cats. However, it is good to consider basic health care costs.
Stool examination: important, especially if you buy the rabbit, as it often has intestinal parasites called coccidia, which cause diarrhea and rapid death.
Annual vaccination: from 2 months, the minimum age at which the rabbit can be separated from the mother, it is possible to carry out a trivalent vaccine that protects your friend against 3 deadly diseases: Myxomatosis (transmitted by mosquitoes) and Mev (hemorrhagic disease viral) 1 and 2 transmitted by infected fellow species or infected objects such as shoes.
Sterilization of the importance, as I have already told you.
If, instead of buying, you choose to adopt a rabbit from an association, you will usually be entrusted with an animal that has already been exposed to what I have mentioned above.

So why choose the rabbit as a pet?
The rabbit is a very sensitive and independent animal: it learns its name, but decides whether to come or not, while being extremely social (in the wild it lives in groups) it will seek your company and establish an intimate and delicate relationship. Participate fully in the home routine: you will always find it between your feet, on the couch while watching TV and also on the bed waiting for you in the evening. If he is left alone for a long time, he suffers a lot from loneliness, so it is strongly recommended to take a rabbit of the opposite sex, which you can mate with if you spend many hours away from home. Since it is a prey animal, this pet will always remain a bit suspicious and for this reason, any gesture towards you will be a great sign of confidence and an achievement that will fill your soul with joy.
For more information, we recommend that you follow the weekly agreement on “Compagne di Branco” in the podcast on Spotify and live on Radio Parma every Wednesday from 18.00 to 19.00
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