Posted: September 23, 2013, 9 a.m. EDT
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Spending more time with your rabbit, giving him a special treat or attending a rabbit event
are just a few of the ways to celebrate International Rabbit Day.
Rabbits have their very own day — and, we’re not talking about Easter. International Rabbit Day, which typically falls on the fourth Saturday or Sunday in September, promotes the care and well-being of pet rabbits, as well as their wild counterparts. This year, the big day is Saturday September 28.
Rabbits might not receive as big a billing as cats or dogs, but that’s not to say they are lesser pets. Those of us who share our lives with rabbit companions know they certainty are not a practice pet and definitely not a young child’s pet. Rabbits are different from cats and dogs in that they are prey animals by nature, so they might be more adversely affected by rough handling or limited human interactions.
Just as with any other animal companion, pet rabbits thrive on daily one-on-one social interaction, a healthy diet and plenty of enrichment activities. A rabbit that merely receives food, water and shelter and/or is constantly chased around and grabbed is more likely to become an anti-social, timid pet.
On the other hand, a happy, confident rabbit that is treated with respect will often seek out his owner’s attention. Forget, lap dog — think lap bunny! Many pet rabbits enjoy spending time with their people — and that can include following their owners around the house and hopping on their laps to be petted.
A well-socialized pet rabbit, in fact, can be the perfect animal companion, especially for those who live in apartments. Rabbits are quieter pets; they are inclined to communicate with nudges and foot thumps rather than barks, meows or squawks. Like cats, rabbits can be conditioned to use a litter box, so there is no morning and afternoon "let the dog out to potty” duty. You also rarely, if ever, need to bathe your rabbit. Rabbits keep their fur clean by meticulous self-grooming. They do, however, need to have their fur brushed regularly so they don’t swallow large amounts of shed hairs.
Rabbits have come a long way since the days of the lonely, backyard bunny pet. They are more likely to take up residence as endeared household members, running around rabbit-proofed rooms and monopolizing the fridge’s crisper department with their own fresh produce treats. In return, pampered rabbit pets provide gentle loving, tempered with a dose of mischievousness that endears them to their owners.
Many rabbits hop along happily in nursing homes and hospitals as therapy pets. Some rabbits are even genuine heroes. There’s Blazer, the hero bunny who woke her family up in the early morning hours to alert them to a gas leak in the home; Dory ,a large-breed rabbit whose actions saved her owner’s life when she jumped up on his chest after he slumped into a diabetic coma, and there is also the bittersweet story of a pet rabbit credited for saving its owners from a house fire before dying of smoke inhalation.
Do something extra special for your rabbit friend this September 28, and check to see if your local rabbit adoption/rescue organization is hosting an event so you can celebrate these special pets with other like-minded rabbit enthusiasts.
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