In celebration of the house rabbit

Rabbits are terrible at masking their joy. Really, truly awful. The eyes, the ears, the body language -- all are dead giveaways, but the real giveaway is in the hop. When a rabbit is happy, like so pulsing with lagomorphian ecstasy that it truly can't contain itself, such emotions manifest themselves in mid-air. First a sprint and the a jump with a twist, head going in one direction and hind legs in the other -- it's a spasm of pure, unbridled joy that rabbit owners have, predictably labeled with the overly precious name of "binky," and in a world of veiled emotion and doublespeak, it may well be the greatest thing about having a bunny. Top five, at least.

I pitched Boing Boing on a piece extolling the virtues of rabbit ownership a while ago, pulling together some testimonials from folks who, like myself, have eschewed the predictable worlds of dog and cats for a long-eared friend. I went back and forth a little bit, with regards to the timing of such a piece. Would it be a bit too on-the-nose to have it go up right around Easter, when their kind are all over the drugstores and advertising break, hawking cream-filled eggs with a litany of chicken sounds.

Fact of the matter is, however, that there's really no better time of year for such a thing. See, in spite of the springtime celebration of bunny-kind, there's a bit of tragedy surrounding the holiday, with shelters overflowing with unwanted rabbits purchased by parents on a whim, alongside baskets full of plastic grass and hollowed chocolates. I was told precisely this when I adopted Sylvia [above] from a kill shelter in Harlem. That was six years ago, which would put her around eight or nine, if the estimates of the people who found her abandoned in Marcus Garvey Park are to be believed.

That would make her old, certainly, but not elder. Properly cared for, these guys and ladies can live as long as many dogs. Syl sleeps in my kitchen (also my office -- this is New York City, mind) in a puppy pen, a short octagonal fence designed to keep new dogs from chewing all your worldly belongings. She's litter-trained and subsists largely on fresh vegetables and hay that I have shipped to my house in five-pound boxes from a guy who calls himself "Farmer Dave." She's the quietest roommate I've ever had in this godforsaken city, save for those times when she playfully tosses her toys around. And when it gets warm enough outside, she gets free range of my tiny Queens backyard (with adult supervision, mind), where she just binkies up the joint. It's a pretty good deal.

I could go on like this, naturally. Instead, I've opted to turn the floor over to some fellow fans, who, if all goes according to plan, will help convince you think twice about walking past the small animals room at your local shelter. At the very least, it's a good excuse to look at a bunch of pictures of rabbits on the internet. Enjoy.

Garth Ennis

Rabbit: Hazel, 11 years

The rabbit is a top quality animal and makes an excellent pet. The best piece of advice I can give to anyone thinking about adopting is to research the subject thoroughly beforehand, and make sure they know what they're getting into. Most preconceived notions of rabbits are inaccurate: they should not in fact be kept in hutches outdoors, and large quantities of carrots are actually bad for them. They're quite nervous creatures, so children need to be taught to treat them gently and with respect.

As for Hazel, she has lived to the ripe old age of eleven (about 110 in human years) because we keep her indoors in a large enough space for her to run around, feed her mostly on greens and hay with just a few carrots, and take her for annual check-ups at the vet. Another piece of advice- try to find a vet with an actual rabbit specialist, like Symphony Vet on 96th St. She remains in excellent health and is just as lively as she ever was.

She and her brother Fiver- who checked out a couple of years ago- were of course named after the rabbits in Watership Down. Great book, even better movie- but make sure you see the 1978 version, not the cutesy-pie remake from 1999.

Jacq Cohen, Fantagraphics

Rabbits: Nico and Lou are The Velvet Bunderground, three-years-old.

Valiant, four-year-old male. Aaron, two-year-old male.

I got my very first rabbit in college. Her name was Olive and she was the most punk rock bunny to ever live. Olive and I moved from the dorms at UC Santa Cruz, to flop houses, to punk houses in several different cities along the West Coast. When I started working in comics, she chewed her way through two of the three publishing companies that I worked for. She passed away at the age of seven. It took me 2 years to recover from her passing. But, while at the Humane Society with a friend (who was adopting a cat), I fell in love with The Velvet Bunderground, Nico & Lou. They were the start of my new rabbit family.

After a few months, I found Valiant on He was so broken, I just wanted to save him. As you can see in the photo, he only has 1.25 ears. Valiant also has back leg weakness and constant vertigo. In my research for how to properly care for a special needs rabbit, I came across Special Bunny ( a local Seattle rescue focusing of rabbits with disabilities. I started volunteering and it has changed my life. Caring for special needs rabbits is so rewarding. No one appreciates attention more than a bunny that you've nursed back to health. That's how Aaron has come into my life. His front legs are paralyzed. He is technically in "permanent foster care" with me, meaning that Special Bunny will continue to help pay for his medial bills. We are currently building a custom wheelchair for Aaron. I'll keep all you BoingBoing readers posted on how Aaron's front-end wheelchair comes along.

Rabbits are the 3rd most common house pets, and the most misunderstood. They have a wide range of personalities and habits. If treated and taught properly, they can be litter box trained and can do tricks. If you adopt a rescue rabbit, the people who you adopt from can help you find the right rabbit for your household. Also, adopting a rabbit makes you endlessly cool with ladies. Trust me people, girls like girls/boys who adopt rabbits!

PROTIP: Trust Oxbow for timothy hay and food pellets. If you want to make a rabbit endless love you, parsley is their jam! Do you want to spend the rest of your life alone? Neither does your rabbit! Bond your bunny to another bunny friend. PetFinder is like OKCupid for rabbits.

Clare Sanders & Alec Longstreth

Rabbits: Patty and Selma, six-years-old [Image by Gabby Schulz]

My housemates and I saw some cartoon rabbits on TV and thought they were really cute, so we started talking about getting rabbits. I did some research about rabbits as pets at the library and then after discussing it some more with my roommates we eventually went down to the Oakland Animal Shelter and picked out a bonded pair of rabbits.

They are a great low-key pet. You don't have to walk them like a dog, and they won't knock all your stuff over like a cat. They are endlessly cute and entertaining to watch, and very nice to pet. Our rabbits help us eat more healthfully because we buy more vegetables which we share with them. If you're going to get a rabbit, get two! As long as they get along and bond, they will keep each other company and help clean each other. It's also twice as cute when they cuddle up together.

Shawna Gore, Stumptown Comics

Rabbits: Roxy (seven-years-old), Billie Jean (two-years-old)

Right now I have Roxy — a miniature lop who is about seven years old (adopted after she was offered for free on Craigslist when she was retired as a 4-H breeder), and Billie Jean — an American Silver Fox (aka a domestically bred "meat rabbit") who is maybe two years old. She was found in the trash area behind a bar in downtown Portland last Easter Sunday, and a friend of mine who works at the bar called me to see if I would take her. Just before Thanksgiving this past year, our little boy bunny Ali died — we adopted him five years ago, after he was rescued from a notorious rabbit hoarder in Portland in 2007, and he was Roxy's bonded partner.

I adopted my first pair from the Humane Society in 2003 after meeting a few other pet rabbits (and visiting with a yard bunny who lived in my neighborhood). I've had sleep-related anxiety most of my life, and one of my relaxation techniques up to that point involved envisioning sleeping rabbits. Someone suggested to me that maybe that meant I needed rabbits in my life, and that sounded right to me.

Rabbits are very charming to be around; it's almost impossible not to feel happy when there are bunnies dashing around your house, or stretched out at your feet, or grooming/licking your pants. There's also something really touching about gaining the trust of rabbits, which are commonly prey animals.

Always interact with them, always touch and pet and hold them (which is important for monitoring their health as well as for bonding with them), and incorporate them into your household as much as you can. Rabbits aren't meant to languish alone in cages — we would never do that with dogs or cats, and we shouldn't do it to rabbits, either.

Kevin Dresser & Kate Johnson, BrooklynBunny

Rabbit: Roebling (eight years old)

Kate had a rabbit as a child and also had a rabbit living with her when she and Kevin met while living in Brooklyn, New York. Kevin's childhood best friend was his stuffed rabbit toy named "Bunny".

Rabbits are very misunderstood in our society. Most people believe that they are designed to live secluded in cages outside and that they are not very sociable. However, it is quite the opposite. Our rabbit Roebling lives inside and is never locked in a cage. He is free to roam every square foot of our place. He has a little station where he eats and drinks, a few little areas to take his naps and even visits the litter box like most sophisticated house pets. He does not like to be alone and likes to follow us from room to room.

First thing all rabbit owners need to do is visit the House Rabbit Society homepage at and educate themselves on everything rabbit. Second, cut down on any sugary sweets. Occasional treats are okay, but stock up on great hays from Oxbow and American Pet Diner. Hay is the most important way to keep your rabbit healthy.

Our fact-of-the-day to those that do not know much about rabbits is that rabbits cannot vomit. When they are grooming themselves, they can build up a massive amount of fur in their belly. This is very dangerous and sometimes fatal in rabbits. So, be sure to keep them on a proper diet that helps breakdown occurrences like an upset tummy.

Leslie Stein, Majestic Creature

Rabbits: Mackenzie, Jack and Elvie

My first rabbit was Mackenzie, a grey Netherland dwarf my mother and I fell in love with at our local pet shop when I was eight or nine years old. I remember my friends were all very jealous because I had the cutest little friend in town. I taught her to walk on her hind legs for treats. We lived in a long narrow flat that she ran up and down all the time in these almost spastic bursts of energy. She lived for about seven years. On my seventeenth birthday, my mother surprised me with two more Netherland Dwarfs that she said looked bonded and didn't want to separate. They would mostly lay on top of one another behind the couch. Elvie bonded to my mother and Jack bonded to me. Elvie lived a long life and loved papaya tablets. Jack lived even longer, about eleven years, he was fond of almonds.

Rabbits are a pretty misunderstood pet and they often times suffer from the neglect of people who do not understand their special needs. Patience with them is important as they frighten easily (remember how big we are to them!). If you are a loving and patient person, I would encourage you to adopt a rabbit, they are sweet creatures that need a lot of love but also need you to respect their tiny stature.

Cover exposed extension cords in bath tissue rolls. Also we cut a hole at the bottom of our screen door so the buns could play in our fenced in yard and come in at night or when they were hungry... or scared by a big possum!


  1. Oh, I’ve been thinking about getting a rabbit recently, we just need to make sure no one is allergic.

    Also, fun to watch, the documentary Rabbit Fever on Hulu  :)

    1. I believe that there’s a very low incidence of rabbit allergies, my wife is allergic to both cats and dogs and we have four rabbits with no issues.

      1. Thank you, we have to test for rabbit and hay – I really hope no allergy so we can enjoy life with a rabbit (or two!)

        1. Wow, sorry, that sucks.  Are you allergic to most mammals or is it specifically rabbits?  Just curious. 

          1. I have three rabbits which I am allergic to.  I am also allergic to both types of hay that they usually eat.  Anithistimines are important as is washing your hands after feeding or playing with them.

          2. Pretty much just rabbits, that I know of. And not hay, it’s definitely the bunnies. I have to avoid angora blend sweaters. They don’t directly irritate my skin, just my eyes and nose.

  2. As a bunny slave myself I want to thank you for this article. Not only for sharing the love, but also passing along the information that can save countless little fuzzy lives.

  3. Dogs and cats have companions in people; rabbits have servants.  Our rabbit, Father Larry Duff, was a rescue we found hiding under my car two Easters ago.  At first we thought he was lost and put up signs, but after two weeks we realized the truth – he had been abandoned by someone careless who thought he’d make a cute pet for their kids but didn’t understand what rabbits need or how to take care of them. 

    By that point he had burrowed his furry little way into our hearts, so the decision to keep him was a no-brainer.  We took him to the vet to have him checked out, started learning everything we could about caring for rabbits, and now we have a great, if very mischievous, friend and responsibility. 

    The only thing I can think of to add to the advice above is that if you’re considering adopting a rabbit make sure you get them spayed or neutered.  It’ll increase their lifespan and also their quality of life (and yours; you seriously do not want to have to clean up rabbit urine from them spraying). 

  4. Some of my wife’s students did a science experiment with a rabbit to demonstrate litter training and socializing.  Afterwards, it became a class pet … in a school that bans class pets. 

    It’s a middle school science class, so the kids named it Sheldon.  But it’s far nicer than its TV namesake.  It was allowed free range during class and would return to its cage for a treat.  Kids would sit on the floor and pet it during lectures and discussions.  6 periods, 190 kids, no one told an outsider for months.  It was eventually adopted full time by one of the students.

    The replacement pet is a hamster.  Another former experiment in taming that has got to be the tamest animal I’ve ever met.  Spends its days being passed around during class and doesn’t mind one bit.

    1. >It was allowed free range during class and would return to its cage for a treat. Kids would sit on the floor and pet it during lectures and discussions. 6 periods, 190 kids, no one told an outsider for months. It was eventually adopted full time by one of the students.

      This is the best ending :) The teacher did a fantastic job handling the classroom pet lifestyle and I’m glad the bunny finally got a forever home.

  5. Rabbits are great! I have two, Klaas and Annabel. Annabel I got from a big garden chain where they also sell small animals. She was very well taken care of there and although she was a bit too young to take away from her mother (6 weeks old; you should wait until they are 8 weeks old but I didn’t know that back then) she was always a very happy rabbit. That improved when I got Klaas from a shelter half a year later. Klaas was abandoned by his first caretakers at a very young age ‘because he wasn’t fun.’ He was very shy when I got him but he also has a strong will, and it took me a long time to ‘get’ him. But he loves Annabel dearly and he is much more self-assured when she is near him. We three get along very well. They are now four years old. They have the whole house to themselves during the day when I’m there, and they now only break stuff that is theirs. I did rabbit-proof the house, so they don’t have much chance of breaking anything else.

  6. Aww. This article made me happy. I am a current slave of a VERY LARGE English Angora rabbit, he is my buddy, I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

  7. Many years ago I had the good fortune to adopt two rabbits, Maggie and Ginger from someone that could no longer take care of them. I also ended up with this person’s black lab, who had grown from a puppy with the bunnies. Maggie would buddy up to him in order to get licked, sometimes for hours on end. Poor dog kept trying to be friends with Ginger, but she wasn’t having none of that. She was downright mean to that dog.

    1. Are you scarred for life because someone thought it would be a great movie for a sensitive natured small child?

      Because I am.

  8. A lot of these same care and feeding tips can be applied to my favorite small, furry creatures, Guinea pigs. They also have a squee-inducing “happiness hop” called popcorning. We got our first one, Pigwig, from a pet store, but our second, Francis, from a cavy rescue (yea, I didn’t know such places existed either.) Please, if you’re thinking of getting any small creature such as a rabbit or guinea pig for a pet, make sure you can commit to taking care of them and being their companion for a long time. I see so many animals get dumped because their owners didn’t know what they were getting into. 

    1. I loooooove guinea pigs oh mannnn.

      My family has had 3 guinea pigs, and 2 of them lived for over 12 years. It must be over 7 years now since the last one passed away, and I still feel just as tenderly about the little critters. (I want to get a long-haired guinea pig and call it Wiggins. Your names are pretty great too.)

    2. Having had both, I would really recommend Guinea Pigs over about any other small pet. Very docile and quiet. Good with kids. Less mess and chewing than rabbits.

      1. Quiet? Really? I never had a guinea pig, but a couple of my friends did, and I remember the little critters occasionally shrieking (the guinea pigs, that is, although my friends occasionally shrieked too).

        Now that I mention it, though, I worry that those noises were an expression of distress or boredom. The guinea pigs seemed incredibly sweet and were made of pure cuteness, so I hate to think of them not being properly cared for.

          1. Have you had pet rats of both sexes? I’m very much of the opinion that more folks should try them as pets, but hesitate to say that my boy rats were ever *too* clean. They took care of themselves all right, but also took great lazeabout glee in making messes.

            My lady rats, on the other hand, were borderline neat freaks.

        1. My Gpig, Darby Crash, shrieks every once in a while – in response to plastic bags rustling, because he knows that means he’s getting a treat. It’s not necessarily because they’re suffering. Like rabbits, they all have different personalities, and some will be quiet while others make a lot of noise. His vocal contributions are why he got his name!


        I guess that I forgot to ask for the special ‘quiet’ guinea pigs.

    3. We had a few guinea pigs when I was younger, they used to creep out the local cat. She’d try to stalk them, but they’d just stare right back at her. In the end she’d always just run off.

    4. I’ve had several guinea pig companions over the years, for mostly the same reasons as rabbit fans- they’re low key pets, but very sociable and fun to play with. Guinea pigs are significantly more cautious than most rabbits I’ve met, but they still enjoy exploring and the occasional trip outside- mostly mine just plunk themselves down and eat until they can barely move. 
      Thanks for highlighting shelters and rescues- it’s so easy to buy a furry pet at the pet store, when so many need homes. Cavy and rabbit rescues can be harder to find, but are definitely worth it. My rescue pig Peanut (who was expected to live 5-7 years) is about to turn 10, and shows no signs of slowing down. Must be all the extra kale we feed her :)

  9. I looked and looked, and just couldn’t find the article containing horrible imagery this one is a chaser for.

    1. I’m sure there’s an upcoming post regarding the selection of the new pope. Consider this a prechaser.

  10. HOP.  I, a kitteh owner, have just moved in with a bun and her friend, who has changed the way I think about house buns.  It never fails to be surreal to see a bunny run across the house, determined and on some undisclosed mission, or to lose herself in the search for the parrot snacks we offer as treats.  The puzzle now is creating the great “cattywampus” between small, fearless, punk-haircut bunny and big, gentle, but deadly agile kitty. 

    Initial encounters have mostly involved the cat peering into the room from the hallway, making pitiful frightened meows despite the fact that the bunny is the size of her stomach.  It was worsened one night by an odd cocky dance that the bun performed in the living room, as if to suggest that all strivings are but vanity and the cat’s entire sense of self was premised upon hollow glories. 

    Nonetheless, we are trying to teach them to be ok with each other.  The main obstacle is that bunny will walk right up to the cat as if she weren’t there.  The cat will become terrified, warn, hiss, and swat.  She doesn’t want anything to do with the buns, but she also doesn’t know how to look away yet.  Their relationship, however, is new.  It seems to be all about letting them ease into it.  There’s so much at stake.  Has anyone mastered the great cattywampus?


      These are my guys! The key is that the cats are extremely laid-back dudes. The bunny does tend to own them. I think his fast moving antics are slightly terrifying to cats. We kept them well supervised at the start, until the cats realized he was part of the household and not a new toy.

      1. Thanks, great photos!  Keeps me hopeful.  I think the next part for us is getting the cat a little less terrified so she doesn’t panic when a bunny approaches.  Otherwise my cat is really laid back, but when she sees the face of an approaching bunny, she thinks it’s impending doom.  Bunny kitty snuggles are definitely the dream.

        1.  Our guys still often panic when he approaches! Occasionally they try climbing into his boxes and must be chased off post-haste. They have a healthy respect for him.

          The darting around definitely seems to be the main problem for cats. I can see why that is. It’s pretty unnerving if you’ve never encountered anything like that before. Good luck with your dudes!

    2. I “liked” your post merely for your sentence “It was worsened one night by an odd cocky dance that the bun performed in the living room, as if to suggest that all strivings are but vanity and the cat’s entire sense of self was premised upon hollow glories.”  Fantastic.

  11. Years ago, I adopted a spectacular black and gray French lop from the House Rabbit Rescue Society, whom I named “Misha” in tribute to his absolutely balletic leaps, which reminded me of Mikhail Baryshnikov. He was with me for almost 9 years, as an indoor bunny with lots of playtime, good hay and greens, and yes, an “exotic” animal vet. 

    Now, 20 years later, I’m a comic book writer. Coincidence?

    Thanks for this article … I hope it raises awareness and helps save some lovely bunnies.

  12. Keeping prey animals as pets just seems weird to me. Perhaps because I grew up with more predatory pets?

    On reflection, I do also have a fondness for non-predators that are still not prey animals, such as horses. So I suppose the complaint I have primarily is the nature of a prey animal itself.

    Go far enough down the food chain and the capacity for meaningful interaction with the animal in question seems to diminish considerably. Rabbits and hares have always struck me as overwhelmingly passive and dull creatures, operating almost entirely on instinct with very little individual personality.

    That’s not to say they lack any personality at all, of course, but that I feel it doesn’t compare well to higher tiered mammals. They of course have moods and emotions, but they seem vaguely foreign and collectively interchangeable to me. Perhaps they’re simply more subtle than I have the experience or patience necessary to notice and appreciate.

    1. I tend to disagree with you but, well, I have four rabbits.  I see this situation a lot, people who grow up used to cats and dogs (because, well, all of human history and stuff) think that rabbits are boring because they don’t react like cats & dogs.  It’s a personal point of view and I won’t argue it but I disagree, rabbits do their own thing for sure but they’re present and all different individuals, of the four we have no two are alike (not even the brother & sister). Some are shy, some are bold, some are sweet, some are a$$holes.  Some are sweet to me and a$$holes to you.  People tend to meet rabbits for the first time that are traumatized (living outside, living in a cage that’s too small for them, mistreated, etc.) and make judgements on the species from that but a healthy happy rabbit is a different animal entirely.

    2. It sounds like you just don’t have experience with rabbits as pets, and so don’t have a sense of the body language and communication. I grew up with house rabbits and I can say with certainty that every rabbit I’ve known has had a very distinctive personality.  There are shy rabbits and bold rabbits, aggressive rabbits and docile rabbits.  They can be incredibly affectionate, climbing into your lap and licking your hands, and also very playful, tossing their chew toys and doing crazy binky dances around the room.  I think that prey animal behaviors often have parallels to predator behaviors, in that both kinds play in ways that train their survival skills.  Thus, cats practice chasing and catching, rabbits practice agility and evasion.  In terms of pet ownership,  I describe rabbits to people who have never owned them as being sort of like slightly nervous, slightly scatterbrained vegetarian cats.  Obviously they are very different animals, but in terms of their capabilities and my relationships with them, they are surprisingly not that far off.
      Also to your point about horses, they are indeed prey animals.  Prey animals are not always unintelligent.  Rats are a prime example of small animals with high intelligence, problem solving skills, and complex social structures.

    3. This I think is the problem with how rabbits are generally viewed. This is what people think they’re like.

      I personally think rabbits are more interesting than cats (and mostly quieter, bonus). My first bunny was a holy terror of destruction,she’d climb to the top of whatever she could, and outsmarted us more than once. She also loved me and would climb into my lap to chill with me.

      My current little buddy is totally different. He’s a rescue, and completely non-destructive. He’s staid and relaxed. He loves attention, but on his terms (the floor).

      They aren’t for everyone, but they are totally awesome and often far more entertaining than any other pets I’ve known (When a rabbit is really happy, sometimes they do what is known as a flop: they THROW themselves flat on the floor and look like something horrible just happened. It’s perpetually hilarious.).

    4. I’m not sure how anyone who’s ever spent any time at all with horses could ever think they are not prey animals.  It explains so much of their otherwise irrational behavior.  Ever seen a horse completely freak out due to rustling noises? Trash bags in the wind, crinkling paper, even some noisy jackets can provoke some seriously outsized responses until the horse fully processes what it is and realizes it’s not about to get eaten. I once had an elderly and very staid horse take off bucking because there was a squirrel playing in the leaves behind us and he thought “ZOMFG, wolves!”  He was rather embarrassed when the wolves did not materialize.  In suburban New York.  Where there are, in fact, unsurprisingly, no wolves.  It’s a totally ingrained response even among domesticated horses that have never encountered a predator large enough to do them any harm.

  13. The best piece of advice I can give to anyone thinking about adopting is to research the subject thoroughly beforehand, and make sure they know what they’re getting into.

    Please, let’s emphasize this as the best piece of advice for any pet. I realize most, if not all, of the readers here are well-meaning and of above average intelligence and, generally, the sort of people who would take this advice, but the fact is there are a lot of idiotic impulse buyers out there. Otherwise there wouldn’t be rabbits in animal shelters or, for that matter, boa constrictors in the Everglades.

    I think anyone adopting any pet should be required to do extensive research first, although it’s because I hold myself to that that I’ll probably never adopt a rabbit. My heart melts just looking at pictures of them, and I’m sure they’d enrich my life, but I won’t adopt any animal without being as certain as possible that I can give it the quality of life it deserves.

    1. I think a lot of people may also have had a pet as a kid (where the parents did some unseen maintenance) or had a more low maintenance pet like a cat or fish and do not realize how much more work some pets are. Based on my experience I would rank from least to most maintenance:

      1. Cat
      2. Freshwater Fish
      3. Dog
      4. Guinea Pig
      5. Rabbit
      6. Hamster

      Of course this could vary according to individual circumstances, esp the dog. We have a pug with a fenced yard and a doggy door, so much less work than someone with a long hair breed in an apartment. Some people just assume that smaller animals are less work, but that is not usually the case.

      1. My experience is that our rabbit is so much less maintenance than any cat we’ve owned. Cats thrash. They chew, they claw, they get sick, they urinate and defecate everywhere, their feces stink because they eat meat, they get nervous and freak out when change happens… Our rabbit is so much more social and HIS POOP DOES NOT STINK. Plus I could never keep a cat on our porch–because I care about songbird populations–whereas Bunny lives there fulltime.

  14. Any advice on helping “wild” bunnies? we live in a fairly congested neighborhood (for lack of better term), but there are still some bunnies around (although one recently fell prey to something – probably a hawk – in or back yard), and we’ve tried leaving carrots out for it (them?) but he’s never eaten it.

    Is it better to try and take them in and domesticate them? is that even possible? or are we better off just enjoying watching him occasionally through our kitchen window (well, not now that the hawk got him)..?

    1.  Domesticating wild animals isn’t advised, but there are plenty of shelter rabbits in need of a home.

    2. If the rabbits are truly wild (and not just “Easter Presents” that “the kids never played with anymore” so they got “set free” – ugh, that whole sentence infuriates me) then the best thing to do is leave them alone.  If they *are* house rabbits that someone has left out in the wilderness to die you’ll probably be able to tell by their markings, you might want to check some of the house rabbit rescue websites and see the different varieties and see if they match.

    3. We have wild hares in the desert across the street. They come over every evening to eat the grass in the condo complex yard. About once a year, I hear the eldritch shrieks of coyotes over there, and no more bunnies for a while.

  15. We once owned a rabbit and chihuahua. They bonded and would play a game of chase, taking alternating turns to chase the other through the house. It was pure joy to watch them play and interact.

  16. I’ve just finished translating some German regulations on the commercial keeping of rabbits. Apparently 40,000 tonnes of rabbit meat is consumed in Germany every year.

    I’m on the wrong thread, aren’t I?

      1. You’ll be pleased to know that they are kept very well (providing they are actually kept in accordance with the regulations). They must be kept in groups and not separated unless absolutely necessary. The enclosures must reflect the needs of rabbits (at least 6m2 and 700cm2 per rabbit, no cage flooring, suitable gnawing and nest building material, raised area for looking at the surroundings, covered areas for shelter and hiding, separate area for each female rabbit nest). They must have appropriate lighting (measured at the head height of the rabbit) with a suitably long dusk period and at least 8 unbroken hours of darkness. Each animal is inspected twice a day and they have access to a vet and daily recording of quite a lot of information regarding the animals’ welfare.

  17. My wife and I have had a mini-rex rabbit for about two years now. His name is Pantat Kecil (Indonesian for “Little Butt”), and we love him dearly.

    People thinking about bringing a bunneh into their lives should be aware that rabbits can be a bit destructive in the home, if you’re not careful. They love to chew and dig and may act out these impulses on your carpets, walls, furniture. Let me assure you, though, the joy of owning a little ‘bit far outweighs these issues–at least for us! I can only be frustrated with our Pantat for a minute. When I rush over to shoo him away from chewing on the carpet, I find myself tenderly petting his head and ears almost immediately. 

    1. Yeah, we just had one of our rabbits take a huge chunk out of our nearly new couch but I can’t be mad at her, she was just doing what she needed to do and it was our fault for getting a baby gate she could slip through.  In my opinion you should have a “rabbit room” (with all their stuff and matting on the floor with plenty of iltter boxes) as well as “rabbit friendly sections” to your house (where you can let them hang out when they want to range a little further).  Also, you’d probably be advised to not make the “rabbit room” the same room as your “library”, you’d think that you only have to worry about the bottom shelf but trust me, they can make it up to the second one…

  18. @eldritch. You clearly have never owned a rabbit if you think they are passive and dull with no personality. They are all very different to one and other and if you treat your rabbit how it should be treated it will give you a lot back. Unfortunately, there are a lot of very sad and lonely rabbits out there who do not show their personalities because their needs are not understood and are not treated correctly. However I have a wonderful bond with my rabbit who gives so much and has a very big personality. Yes it is a different relationship from one with a dog or cat, but you have to understand the language to understand what they are trying to tell you, but that is the same for any pet you haven’t had any experience with before.

    1. I only stated that I felt they were passive and dull in comparison to other, more predatory animals, not that they have absolutely no personality. I even went out of my way to express the possibility that prey animals are simply too subtle in their personalities for me to notice and appreciate due to my upbringing with more forward predatory animals.

      To be even more fair, most of my personal experience with rabbits and hares comes from farms and agricultural settings, where they were treated as mere livestock rather than anything resembling pets. Attempts to socialize with some of the animals proved oddly fruitless, as though they had no interest in dealing with me or anyone else. Their motivations in that setting were entirely biological – a “mechanical” reaction to various stimuli.

      Even with individuals removed from their enclosures to an open, natural setting, they persisted in exhibiting a complete lack of curiosity of anything around them that wasn’t food or a potential predatory threat. Whether this is attributeable to some quality of their agricultural lifestyle, I do not know. Perhaps they were “depressed”, so to speak, and had no drive to exit beyond their reality as they knew it. Perhaps they somehow knew their fates, ultimately the same as those they would face in the wild, food for a larger, more powerful carnivore.

      Perhaps the treatment of rabbits as pets, instead of prey, is what accounts for the individual behaviors and personalities you notice and appreciate? That by nature of being treated as prey, they become such? Perhaps when reared in a setting wherein socialization with humans is the primary role expected of them, they adapt readily to fulfill that expectation, much as other domesticated animals do? I’ve always been amazed at the relative speed and ease with which a dog or cat can transition from complete domestication to ferality, and even back. Perhaps rabbits exhibit much the same potential? Hence the “prey” behaviors of being unconcerned with interacting with their human “caretakers”.

      1. My experience with rabbits is just that: when there’s a large group so they mostly interact with one another, they all just sort of seem like rabbits.

        When they interact a lot with people, though – for instance if you only have one or two – they show a great deal of individuality. I’d recommend them right alongside dogs and cats, unless your home has a lot of wires.

      2. Rabbits definitely need lots of touching. The literature insists on regular petting and holding. Our bunny can’t get enough. Rushes forward to receive loves from everyone who comes by.

        1. I visited a friend from work who had gotten a rabbit for her son. Apparently, they never touched it because, a minute after I picked it up, I had a hole in my jeans with blood pouring out of it.

      3. I think it does have a lot to do with socialization, both with humans and with other members of their species.  I figure that if you kept a cat in a hutch in the yard all its life, it would probably be a pretty boring pet, and it would probably not know how to react to human companionship as well as one that had been raised in a stimulating and nurturing home.  It’s a lot of expect of an animal that has basically no interaction with you outside its occasional maintenance to act affectionate or show much in the way of personality.

        As an aside, one thing that I find interesting is that unlike dogs, rabbits never really have been extensively bred for companion animal temperament, but rather physical traits.  I wonder if there will be such thing as a “lap rabbit” breed in the future, but for now I think the most important thing is to try to find homes for the multitude of rescue rabbits, and enjoy the entire spectrum of rabbit personalities as we discover them.

  19. Additional caveat I haven’t seen expressed yet: if you have a predatory dog or cat, do NOT get a bunny.  Some dogs/cats are fine with scamper-y little critters because it’s not in their nature to chase them, but many can’t help themselves.  If you have a dog/cat who stares at birds, squirrels, etc. and will run after them if given the chance, a bunny is not safe in your home.

    1.  And even with the most docile cat or dog, I wouldn’t advise leaving them alone with a rabbit. Definitely make sure there’s some adult supervision.

      1. Our little Dutch bunny terrified into quivering submission a Chihuahua kept on our porch with him for a weekend. Both were uncaged. Our bunny regularly drives off cats, whom he hates. And he has lived uncaged on our porch for nearly four years. Granted, we don’t get a lot of off-leash dogs here, and there are lots of hiding spots for bunny on the porch. But I wouldn’t be so sure that rabbits are automatically going to be prey animals.

      2.  Definitely depends on the pets involved. Our two cats and one rabbit have lived together, no holds barred, for two years now — almost since we adopted him (after supervision and a pen at night for, like, a week).

        But I don’t recommend that until you’re REALLY SURE and you know the cats REALLY WELL.

  20. My brother had a rabbit for fourteen years. Wonderful personality, impish and fun, in ways that dogs and cats aren’t (though I love those creatures too). My whole family mourned his passing from old age.

  21. Nugget (a.k.a. The Little Girl), an adorable Greyish-blue Netherland Dwarf had a tough start. Being owned by a family who didn’t give a crap about her, relegating her to a dark corner of the basement, surrounded by rubbage for years. I can’t even fathom this sort of mindset, and would like to have seen these people treated the same way. We weren’t even considering getting any sort of pet, mainly due to our active schedules. After hearing about the plight of this critter, and the fact nobody else could really take her in, the story tugged at every single one of my heartstrings. I talked Maggie (a.k.a. The Wife Unit) into welcoming her into our house (btw, it really didn’t take much coercing).

    We threw Nugget a Welcome Party, with about 20-25 guests. When she first came to our house, she was a frightened little girl, having known nothing but living in darkness and abject squalor. A angel by the name of Claudia, was kind enough to have cleaned her cage. Nugget lived in her closet during the cleaning. To give you an idea of how nasty Nugget’s life was, it took Claudia DAYS to chisel out the urine stone that had collected. Well, she arrived at our house, not knowing her life was to change for the better for the rest of her little life.

    At first she was justifiably skittish, but soon began to notice things weren’t the same anymore. After just a few short weeks, she wasn’t trapped in her cage anymore, and was free to roam throughout the house. She explored every nook & cranny, and would ‘explore’ for hours on end every day. She had a few favorite spots, whether it be on the landing of the stairs overseeing the front door, or stretched out in front of the tv to keep us company. She asked for nothing, but gave us nothing but unconditional love. After time, she became more and more relaxed, even greeting people at the door with a couple quick nosebutts, just to let you know that she lived here.

    We spoiled the heck out of her, for good reason, she was worth it. After a short time, it became quite apparent that she owned the house, and we just lived here as her servants, which we were happy to do. The last couple years of her life were filled with nothing but happy times, and her body language confirmed this. She was never a lap-bunny, having been wired different from the beginning from the family who neglected her, but she would always love a good chase around the house (“Catch The Bunny” as it was known in our house). When we took her to the vet the first time, we were told she was overweight. Well, you would be too if you were locked up in a cage with no exercise. By the second or third visit the vet had proclaimed, “If I didn’t know the story of this little girl, I’d swear she’s getting younger”.

    I’d rather not talk about the specifics of her last couple of days, as I don’t think I’d get through writing it without completely losing it again, but she died in my arms on Sunday afternoon, after a 4-day struggle. I remained awake through most of it, standing vigil, hoping I could turn her condition around. She was thoroughly exhausted after 4 days of not being able to eat, and as she layed on the floor, nearly listless, at the last minute, with all the remaining strength she could gather up, hopped into her box (the bottom part of the cage she grew up in), and layed down her head. I walked over, and she went into a couple convulsions. I picked her up, and cradled her in my arm, as she took her last breath looking directly at me, her head falling to the side. As expected, I completely lost it, as did everyone else (Maggie, Mom & Dad). We gave her little body to the vet, who, upon examination, found there was a small tumor blocking her digestive tract, so the last few days, there really wasn’t anything we could have done. I doesn’t make the loss any easier, but it is closure.

    We will be receiving her ashes on Thursday, and she will be put in a prominent position on our mantle. I thank all those who helped us rescue the little girl, thus allowing her a proper life, even if it was for only a couple short years. I’m amazed at how many lives this little fuzzball was able to touch. The happiness she gave us was boundless, and she was happy to share her personal happiness with anyone.

    Little Girl, wherever you are, you will forever remain in our hearts, and we thank you for allowing us to treat you like the royalty you were…

    1. :( Condolences <33

      I'm so glad that Nugget got to spend the rest of her life with people who love her and care about her as much as you and your family do. It sounds she was rescued from a terrible situation and I'm sure she knew that she was loved till the end.  

      1. Yeah, if you could have seen the conditions she was in originally, you would have cried. Not quite sure how people can have that sort of mindset. It was the 1st bunny we ever had, and surely won’t be the last. If you want to friend her, she has a Facebook page. It’s kinda funny, Nugget has more firends than my wife, lol!  

    1. It’s the same for nearly any animal, cooked properly. Although it doesn’t happen on threads about pet dogs or cats, also common food animals in places, when the subject is rabbits as pets, someone can always be relied on to poop on the thread by pointing out that rabbits can be cooked and eaten. Today it’s you!

    2. You know, I was going to go my normal route when someone suggested that “animal X tastes good” and suggest that they try long pig but at the last minute I decided not to.

  22. Thanks for posting this article Brian. I think the mentality of rabbits as great non-caged house pets has a long way to go but every step helps and the more awareness, the better. :)

  23. Rabbits are wonderful, intelligent creatures; they make great companion animals for those who take the time to understand and love their bunniness. Adopt, don’t buy – and check out for natural toys and the best Oxbow hay & food for your bun! 

  24. bunny people, a question:

    can you keep bunnies if you have other pets?

    i’m thinking no, because it was emphasized how sensitive they are and how you should be careful having them around children…

    i’m just curious, because we have two kitties but these bunnies are sooooo cute!

    especially with our situation: we have two indoor-only sibling kitties, one of whom loves to attack his sister mercilessly.

    SHE is a bit shell shocked and nervous as a result; i can only imagine what he’d do to a bun bun!

    ETA: yup, someone already addressed this issue above

    no bunny for us!

    (i knew that would be the case)

    1. Ours was raised with small dogs. Uncaged. I am convinced that is why our rabbit is so cool. He fears no dog, but hates cats. Consider it.

  25. I particularly enjoyed this needlessly superior dig:

    “folks who, like myself, have eschewed the predictable worlds of dog and cats”

    You have a dog? That’s so predictable. I have a rabbit.

  26. We inherited BunBuns from a neighbor some years ago. He lived on her porch (no cage, no gate) for three years. He’s lived on ours for nearly four. No cage, no gate. Rabbits are territorial. He stays on his porch and we are gone at work all day. We do cage him at night so the neighborhood fox doesn’t eat him.

    This is the best pet we’ve ever had. He guards the house, thumps at cats (hates cats, that makes two of us) and greets dogs. Loves dogs. HIS POOP DOES NOT STINK. He only urinates in his designated containers. Smart as hell, way smarter than the dogs I’ve owned. And not hateful, like cats.

    BunBuns has a HUGE neighborhood fan club. He gets organic frisee greens from the nice lady with the pair of wolfhounds. The little kids tear out chunks of weeds for him. We’ve met everyone in our block. Do yourself a favor—get a porch bunny.

  27. Rabbits periodically sample their owners to see if they’ve turned into carrots yet.

    No thanks. Rescue dogs rule.

  28. I can’t tell you how much MORE I love boingboing right now. I’ve had my Ms. Drizzle for almost 2 years now. We found her in Prospect Park the day before Hurricane Irene hit (“Drizzle” ‘cuz it wasn’t drizzling…it was pouring) and while it hasn’t been the smoothest road, I love her to absolute bits now. She’s got some insane bunitude–from snuggling every night before bed, to figuring out how to shake and bang the door when I leave her in the room alone. Pure bunny love. Thank you, boingboing and all who contributed!

    For anyone looking for a great bunny vet in Brooklyn, check out Dr. Holloway at Prospect Park Animal Clinic.

  29. It’s worth mentioning that you should be /really/ sure you want a rabbit before you go out and pick one up. They are one of the animals most likely to be bought, and then simply ditched when the purchaser decides they’re no longer convenient. Happens in huge numbers every Easter.

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