Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Concerning animals

In this post, I'm discussing the welfare of pets, especially rabbits as my main point of concern.
As you know, I have a pet rabbit called Rex, whom I love to bits! He is my furry little pal, and the best listener. This is probably not strange, because many people claim that their pets are the best listeners. You can tell them anything, without having retorts thrown back at you, and it is my way to just get something out of chest. For now, I will talk about pet ownership.

A pet is not just for display, or for Christmas, it's for
life. Thousands of unwanted pets end up in the shelters every year, simply because their owners can no longer look after them. They why you would ask, would they buy a pet in the first place? The decision of whether to own a pet does not just happen overnight. It takes weeks of planning. Not everyone is suited to pet ownership, and even if you want a pet, not every specie is suitable for everyone. A common reason that people has when handing their pet over at the shelter is "I didn't think he/she would be like that." How can this be avoided? The answer is simple - research. Researching provides potential pet owners with invaluable information. One cannot just look at their neighbour or friend's dog and say "oh how cute, I want a dog." People who act on their impulses often do not understand the huge responsibility that comes with owning a pet. A pet needs more than just food and water. Many pets, especially exotic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs etc, are often left alone in the backyard without any human interactions.

This brings me to my main point - pet rabbits.
Here we are in the twenty-first century. Rabbits are becoming more and more popular as household pets. Unfortunately, people's perceptions about them haven't changed much. There are many common myths surrounding this furry specie of animal, and I will list some of them below.

Myth 1: Rabbits are great, low-maintenance starter pets.
WRONG! Although they don't need to be walked like dogs, rabbits are anything but low-maintenance. Their cages need daily cleaning, and fresh food and water must be offered daily, including a salad of well-washed, dark-green leafy vegetables, and unlimited hay. They also need at least two hours of exercise every day in order to keep them happy.

Myth 2: Rabbits only live a year or two, so no long term commitment is necessary.
WRONG! Well cared-for indoor rabbits can live 8-12 years, and some even longer. This is approximately the same life span as some breeds of dogs, and requires the same long-term commitment.

Myth 3: Rabbits do not need veterinary care the way dogs and cats do
WRONG! Yearly vaccinations are a must for protection against calici virus. Companion rabbits should be spayed/neutered by veterinarians experienced in rabbit surgery. This not only reduces hormone-driven behaviors such as lunging, mounting, spraying, and boxing, but also protects females from the risk of uterine cancer, the incidence of which can exceed 50% as rabbits grow older. In general, rabbits needs a vet check-up every six months.

Myth 4: Rabbits love to be picked up and cuddled, and do not scratch or bite.
WRONG! Although some rabbits tolerate handling quite well, many do not like to be picked up and carried. If rabbits are mishandled they will learn to bite to protect themselves. If they feel insecure when carried they may scratch to get down.

Reference: - Visit the website for more myths and quality information on rabbit care.

Because of their size and cuteness, rabbits are often thought of as the perfect pet for children. However, this is not the case. Believe it or not, a dog would be more suitable. Rabbits are prey animals, and most do not enjoy to be cuddled and picked up, which is what children would do. In an attempt to escape, the rabbit may kick, bite or scratch, injuring the child and often the rabbit itself. Rabbits are known to have broken their spine as they kick madly to escape. The startled child may also drop the rabbit, whose bones are fragile, and can cause serious injury. Unfortunately, rabbits are popular Easter gifts for children, but as the novelty wears off, the rabbits are left neglected in the backyard or dropped off at the shelter.

Who says vet care is only for cats and dogs? All domesticated animals require vet treatment, even if it's just a half-yearly check-up. Illnesses are sometimes difficult to identify in rabbits, and when you do, it may be too late. In addition, they are good at concealing pain, so if you ever hear a rabbit scream, it means he is in excruciating pain. Trust me, you never want to hear that sound.

Rabbits make excellent pets when cared for properly. They are very clean, can be easily litter-trained and friendly. As for me, pet rabbits will always be a part of my life.

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