In the Internet age, misinformation is a real problem for pet owners. No matter what type of pet you own, the worldwide web is filled with a never-ending array of websites dedicated to our furry friends. Unfortunately, sometimes the information they pass of as fact is anything but – sometimes it’s only a little off the mark, but in many cases it’s just plain wrong.
Combine this misinformation with a handful of old wives’ tales and you end up with several widely-believed myths and misconceptions about our pets.
If you own a rabbit or you’re thinking of getting a pet rabbit, you’ve probably come across some of these myths without even realising it. So to ensure that you can give your rabbit the best possible care, let’s take a look at 5 of the most common myths about rabbits and how they compare to reality.
The top 5 myths about rabbits
Myth 1: Rabbits live on just carrots (or just carrots, lettuce and cabbage)
Bugs Bunny may have been one of the most entertaining cartoon critters to ever grace the small screen, but when it comes to misconceptions about rabbit diet he sure caused a lot of trouble. One of the most common beliefs among people who have never owned a rabbit before is that their new pet needs nothing more than a few carrots each day to meet his nutritional needs – just like Bugs Bunny. In reality, bunnies have complex dietary requirements just like us, and they need a balanced diet to ensure they grow strong and healthy. The right diet for your rabbit will include good-quality fresh grass or hay as the main ingredient, supplemented by leafy green vegetables, commercial rabbit pellets and the occasional carrot as a treat.
Myth 2: Rabbits don’t make any sound
Dogs bark, cats meow and birds squawk – but rabbits don’t make any sound at all, right? Many people who are new to rabbits are very surprised to learn that these cuddly creatures aren’t quite as soundless as they’ve been led to believe. In fact, rabbits make a surprising array of noises, including everything from shrill shrieking sounds to chirps, growling and even purring. These vocalisations can be used to express a range of emotions and are your bunny’s way of letting you know exactly how she is feeling. So while a rabbit may never be as loud as a barking dog, your new pet may still make plenty of noise.
Myth 3: Rabbits have to live outside
Rabbits can live outside in a hutch – but they don’t have to. In fact, living outside in the harsh weather of an Australian summer can actually be extremely dangerous for your pet if they don’t have any way to escape the heat. Then there’s the fact that outside rabbits tend to be a little “out of sight, out of mind”, meaning they don’t get all the love and attention they need. Rabbits are actually quite social animals that love interacting with their owners, and the easiest way to guarantee plenty of quality time between owner and rabbit is to house your pet indoors.
Myth 4: All rabbits love to be cuddled
Some rabbits love nothing more than being handled and snuggling up in your arms, but others will do just about anything to avoid being touched. Rabbits have different personalities and their response to people will vary depending on their prior experiences and socialisation. Even many rabbits who like being handled will prefer to be the one to initiate contact, so don’t overwhelm or frighten your pet by rushing into things. The best way to raise a rabbit that loves snuggles and cuddles is to get them used to being handled from an early age.
Myth 5: Rabbits don’t require much maintenance
It’s not unusual to see rabbits referred to as low-maintenance pets – which they are, but only in comparison to certain other types of animals. Don’t assume that this low-maintenance moniker means you can stick your pet rabbit in the backyard and forget about her; rabbits actually require quite a reasonable amount of ongoing care in order to be happy and healthy. You’ll need to have the time and energy to brush their coat, clip their nails, clean up after them and make sure they have all the food and water they need. Just as crucially, they need to get the opportunity to spend lots of quality bonding time with you. And remember, rabbits can live for 10 or even 12 years, so owning one of these adorable little creatures is a long-term commitment – if you’re not willing to give a rabbit all the care and love it needs, this is not the right pet for you.