Raising Happy Rabbits: Housing, Feeding, And Care Instructions For Your Rabbit's First Year by Brittany May and Penny Ausley
This book caught my eye one day while I was happily shopping at my local Tractor Supply. Of course it was the adorable pointed white fluffy bunny munching away on a carrot top that made me pick it up & start to flip through it. I noticed a lot of fluffy bunny photos & care tips that seemed pretty good, so I decided to get it. Once I sat down & read this from cover to cover, my happy thoughts trickled away.
I suppose my first warning should have been that these bunny experts have only raised 4 rabbits in 6 years time between the two of them. Sure, you gain experience, but come on now! Experts? I think not. This is not to say that experience isn't gained, of course it is. In the beginning you knew nothing, after a year, you know so much! You want to tell everyone. I get this. It's exciting & even after a year or two, still somewhat new because, guess what? If you are doing it right, you will keep learning. I suppose after nearly two decades of caring for very high maintenance angora rabbits, I do not view the care of these animals as black or white which is the view of the young authors of this book. The gray area this book ignores is so vast one could loose themselves in it.
The rabbit on the cover is a pointed white Lionhead. The authors claim the rabbit is a dwarf Lionhead. It's just a Lionhead, nothing more. Perhaps they should join the American Rabbit Breeders Association for a proper education on the various breeds of rabbits & their care.
The authors claim that breeders don't care about their animals. Sure, some are in it just for the money, but they never last. Nobody gets rich breeding rabbits. Those who stick with it year after year do it for the love of the rabbit breed/s they are raising. There are plenty of good rabbit breeders.
The authors recommend adopting a rescue over a breeder even though a rescue can have all sorts of unknown problems due to abuse. If you are a first time rabbit owner, a high needs bunny who needs therapy to heal mentally might not be the best choice for you. I happen to rescue bottle baby kittens. I'm all about rescue. In some situations, it's great, in others, it might not be the best choice. It's that gray area I mentioned. I do rescue angora rabbits. It's work. A whole lot of work. I would never suggest a newbie get a rescue angora.
The authors promote House Rabbit Society. To me, they are akin to PETA. They seem great initially, but are so ridged in their rules that should you do one little thing they don't agree with, they will attack you. House Rabbit Society has the best of intentions (unlike PETA). I will not go so far to say that I am against them, because I'm not. My problem is their extreme black or white views. There is zero room for gray & that unbending attitude doesn't reflect the reality of caring for rabbits. I love House Rabbit Society for their love of bunnies, but that's it.
The authors recommend giving a stuffed animal to a single rabbit. This is something I don't think is a good idea because rabbits love to chew. The majority of stuffed animals are synthetic & filled with potentially toxic poly fill (aka petroleum byproducts). I'm not saying you can't get your rabbit a stuffed friend, but if you do, be sure to pay attention. If it gets chewed, you need to remove it right away. A better option is a 100% natural & non toxic toy made from natural fibers such as cotton, wool, or even dare I say it, rabbit hair.
There is absolutely no mention of same sex fighting. So many newbies make the mistake of thinking they can put new bunnies together to be "friends" only do discover that their bunnies which were such sweethearts are now biting, kicking & scratching each other bloody. Sexually mature rabbits who have not been spayed or neutered should never be housed together. In some situations, does (females) can live together safely, but there is always the possibility of them fighting if they are not fixed. If you want to keep bunnies together, get them fixed.
The authors also state not to hold a rabbit on their back. I don't understand this one bit. If your rabbit is comfortable with you, resting him or her on his or her back in the V of your thighs while you are sitting is very comfortable. Many of my bunnies will doze off in this position. While they lay like this, I am free to groom their belly's & clip their nails.
A completely false claim is made that wire bottom housing is "murder" on their feet & they will get sore hocks if housed this way. This is not true. Sore hocks are caused by a dirty cage. If you care at all for your bunny, keep their home clean! You can also purchase resting pads & even fold up an old towel. Depending on your level of commitment, you can keep your rabbit completely off of wire provided you clean your rabbits area daily or more. For angora rabbits which is my specialty, you will need to provide a wire bottom litter box. Fluffy bunnies get very dirty wool. You do not want urine & pellets building up on your rabbits wool. Do not feel bad if you choose to house your rabbits on wire provided you give them a resting mat or something similar. Wire bottoms are the most sanitary option you have. If you choose to forgo wire bottoms, please do not harass those who choose them.
The authors really want you to keep your bunnies indoors. Not surprising as they are House Rabbit folks. The problem with this is how severely they downplay the damage an indoor bunny can cause. Does this mean I'm telling you not to keep them indoors? Of course not. You do what works best for you. In order to push their House Rabbit opinion, the authors wax on about how bad outdoor hutches are for bunnies. It would be great if the authors instead pointed out the pro's & con's of each. Outdoor hutches can be wonderful options for your bunny depending on the type of the hutch & the set up. Obviously a poorly designed hutch in a bad location is not a good idea. Same goes for a bunny living in a too small cage indoors. Indoors or out, a bunny can be ignored & neglected. It's the owner of the bunny who makes the difference.
In the authors efforts to push indoor bunnies, they completely fail to mention how bad rabbit urine smells. They also fail to mention how a rabbit tends to urinate. They like corners & will lift when they release. This means that the urine is likely to land outside of their litter pan or tray. This is why litter boxes sold for rabbits have such a high back & why cages have urine guards.
They do mention "mock mating". It is the authors opinion that you shouldn't mind it when your male bunny vigorously humps your foot because he is expressing his love for you. Personally, I don't want any male animal humping my foot or any other body part, but that's me. Then they state that the furiously humping bunny will "seize" without explaining what "seizing" is. When a male rabbit has reached satisfaction, to put it politely, they briefly lock up & then fall over. They get up & usually do a little shake or thump or whatever expressing their after copulation joy.
Should your rabbit need it's bum cleaned they promote very toxic Johnson's & Johnson's baby shampoo & baby powder as well as diaper rash ointment. In their rabbit first aid kit, they also show some toxic products. Please, never used these products on your rabbits.
There is a DIY picket fence project showing painted wood. Rabbits should never be given painted wood. Please opt for untreated raw wood only. The authors tell the reader to make toys but don't properly show the newbie how to make them.
The authors instruct the reader to never discipline their rabbit if he or she nips aka bites you because the rabbit is showing you affection & he or she wont understand why you are disciplining him or her. It is never acceptable for your rabbit to nip & bite you. While a nip might not do damage other than an unpleasant pinch, a bite can cause you serious injury. Personally, I am not a fan of allowing which is essentially encouraging my rabbits to nip aka bite me. There are other ways to show affection.
They recommend Advantage for treating fleas & mites, but they show a photo of Revolution.
The information on angora rabbits is woefully ignorant. They give incorrect information about what breeds of angora do & do not molt & also falsely claim that most angora wool is from rabbits who are tortured & their fur is ripped from their skin. Join a site like Ravelry or Etsy or something similar & you will find plenty of angora wool from bunnies who are well cared for & loved.
The authors promote the Oxbow brand relentlessly. They also got their answers & opinions from a vet who is also the VP of Oxbow...
To be fair, there are sections of this book that I liked. The pictures are always enjoyable as are some of the treat ideas & some information regarding care. The problem for me is that there is entirely too much false information & harsh judgement of others who don't do it their way. Not to mention the nonsense they spout about angora bunnies. For these reasons, this is a book I do not recommend. There are many other books about rabbits available with much better information.
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