Pet Of The Week: The Easter bunny
Saturday 11 April 2009
I tawt I taw a wabbit? You most certainly did. A Netherland Dwarf rabbit, no less. Small of body, frugal of ear size, hamsterish of jowl, with big eyes. If you wanted to conjure up the perfect Easter Bunny (out of a top hat, perhaps?) then you could do no worse than this whiskery nibbler. And he's got a lovely temperament, not like some rabbits which can show a bit of attitude.
What's up, Doc? As you, of course, know, a boy bun is a buck, and a girl bun is a doe. Under no circumstances are they to be confused with hot cross buns or chocolate bunnies – certainly not at this time of year.
Where do you start when keeping rabbits? There's good reason why rabbits are popular as pets: ease of keeping and feeding. All you need is a hutch, which should be at least 6 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet (according to the Rabbit Welfare Association), with enough space for each rabbit to have its own sleeping area and preferably with a larger run attached. It must be secure against potential predators, as foxes are everywhere – town and country – and they are quite ruthless. If your bun is going to be kept as a house rabbit, then you must "rabbit-proof" all rooms in which he will be free to roam (ie. no wires to nibble through, no fires to get too close to).
What does he eat? Hay, which is a good source of fibre and helps keep teeth in good order; dry food pellets, which are necessary for the digestive system; and a little fresh stuff as a treat, such as carrots, broccoli and cabbage – most of the things that your average six-year-old avoids like myxomatosis. A rabbit is pretty low-maintenance but always keep in mind that the occasional vet bill is bound to come your way.
How many rabbits should I keep? Ideally two, as they like a bit of company, but remember, they breed like rabbits. Some sources reckon that in the right conditions – plenty of food, unlimited land and no predators: Australia, for example – a pair of healthy bunnies could produce more than 13 million descendants in just three years.
Who would own a Netherland Dwarf? Emma Bunton's kid sister.
Where can I get one? There is a National Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club, would you believe? See nndrc.co.uk for more information. Or a good place to ask is at your local vet, as they might be able to find rabbits that are in need of re-homing.
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