Happy Easter from Home for Life! Above is Home for Life's albino angora rabbit,Snowball,who was abandonned at Houle's Feed Store in Lake Elmo,MN The staff there gave her to Home for Life;her only other offer for help was from a guy who bred rabbits for meat and for pets. We rescued a couple of rabbits from the feedstore until they stopped selling rabbits there, thank goodness. One,Zoe,who lived at HFL for over 7 years, had a lump on her side as a young rabbit for sale at the store. When the breeder discovered the lump, he announced he was going to take her home and slaughter her rather than seek vet care for her. So we offered to take her as a friend for Snowball, as well as her brother Tony. Zoe and Tony were small sleek black rabbits and Zoe had a white dot on her nose.
Their lives were so cheap. But Zoe had such a big personality. She was best friends with a chinchilla named Bobo who lived at HFL, and one day they ran away from home together, escaping from the south cat run through a small opening they discovered. They were gone on their adventure for about 48 hours before returning to the run thru the same opening. Zoe would also pick a favorite cat every two months or so, and would always be found sleeping next to the cat,wherever he or she was.
Snowball lived at Home for Life for nearly 6 years and was an adult rabbit when she was surrendered,making her at least 7 or 8 years old when she passed away in 2009 of cancer. The average lifespan of our rabbits has semeed to be about 6-8 years. I read something from a rabbit rescue organziation claiming that most rabbits sold at Easter won't even make it to their first birthday.
Rabbits are such beautiful animals with their soft fur and large eyes but as pets, many of them really seem to live lives of quiet desperation. They can spend their whole lives in small cages. Because they cannot bark or otherwise protest their confinement,they can do nothing to save themselves. I have heard of people abandonning domestic rabbits outside where they have no idea of how to survive and can become easy targets for predators. Home for Life had three rabbits abandonned at the sanctuary last year: the poor bunnies were taped inside a cardboard box and thrown over our gate.
At Home for Life we never intended to get into rabbit rescue but have always had a few rabbits in residence. They have lived very happily amidst our cats. Since our rabbits are not caged, we have had the opportunity to observe how very athletic and active they are. Rabbits love to play and are very agile. The Home for Life rabbits run and leap in the air, play with cat toys and enjoy climbing the cat trees, resting on the hammocks, and they also use the cat doors to go outside to the cat runs. Many of our rabbits are friends with the cats and can often be found resting near them on a hammock or on a pad on the floor.They use the cat boxes and like digging in the pelleted litter we use.
Our rabbits have developed very sophisticated palates. Their basic diet consists of Oxbow rabbit pellets and timothy hay. The hay is fragrant and smell like spring and chewing it keeps their front teeth worn down(the rabbits' teeth grow constantly). We enjoy treating our spoiled rabbits to a fresh salad each day. The HFL bunnies will follow the staff around like puppies if they think it is time for their salad. They love every kind of fresh lettuce especially red leaf and romaine,parsley, fresh basil,carrots, organic celery, strawberries,granny smith apples, colorful peppers,grapes and purple cabbage. We could do so well to eat as healthfully as our rabbits. I would like to have a vegetable garden this summer to grow salad ingredients for the bunnies' luncheons.
Because rabbits are prey animals,the bottom of the food chain, they don't like being lifted up to be held.It must instinctively remind them of being carried off by a raptor. But if I sit on the floor they will come up to give a greeting and quietly sit close by or sit in my lap. They enjoy being brushed and petted. Our groomer Vicki used to keep Snowball mat free and her soft white coat clean.
Tonite on Easter eve,I am thinking of all the rabbits in pet stores and hoping they will find loving homes who will give them the freedom to have happy lives. I think it is great that the rabbit rescues have been collaborating with places like Petco to offer rescued rabbits for adoption in the Petco stores and working to educate the public about the wonderful potential bunnies have as loving pets.