Are They Really So Exotic? (Part 1)
In the US, we think of “exotic” pets as any animal other than a dog or cat. Rabbits, birds, ferrets, reptiles, amphibians, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, hedgehogs, mice, rats, etc. are lumped together as exotics. The rabbit is the third most popular pet in the US, with an estimated 4-7 million of them living in homes in 2016. It is time to rethink their status as an exotic now that they are being adopted out from shelters in ever increasing numbers and have really found a niche as the ideal urban / suburban pet.
The wild eastern cotton tail rabbits seen in our yards bear resemblance to domestic pet rabbits only in appearance. All the dozens of handsome pet domestic rabbit breeds seen today are distant descendants of the European rabbit, which is a completely different genus and species from the cottontail. Domestic rabbits have been bred over hundreds of generations to portray different traits, such as long and short ears, upright and lop ears, dwarf and giant bodies, and a myriad of coat types. They have also been bred to accept interaction with humans, with most domestic rabbits enjoying being handled. Some of our bunny owners tell me that their rabbit will sit on the back of the couch looking out the window awaiting the owner’s return, then run to meet them at the door like a dog or cat.
Bunnies can be trained to use a litter box fairly reliably which helps to make them the perfect apartment pet. They do insist on chewing because their incisor teeth and molars never stop growing. So you must provide approved chewing objects and need to tie up accessible electric, computer, and phone cords for their safety and your sanity.
There are no vaccines currently available to give rabbits, so most of the preventative care involves monitoring their teeth and oral cavity health and providing the exact proper dietary sources of hay, leafy greens, commercial completely nutritious pellets, and treats such as berries, slices of fruit, or vegetables being doled out very sparingly.
You must also pay attention to their coat and skin condition, especially the health of their feet and nails, and keep the rear end clean and dry. During recommended annual bunny examinations we will discuss diet and other aspects of rabbit care in great detail.
Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.