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Home Forums HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Is it abuse?

This topic contains 19sd replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Q8bunny 8 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)
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  • #1322729

    Cinnabunn the bunny
    Participant

    I’ve had my bunnies (bonded pair) for a few years now. I’ve tried to socialize them to human contact but they just tolerate me. They are happier when I leave them alone. As I have gotten busier, I’ve had less time to let them out and give them attention. They have an extremely large pen (5×5 ft for two 5 ib bunnies) and toys. Is it abuse to not let them out and keep them in their large cage? I’m worried that I am not giving them the best life. Should I put them up for adoption? Can bunnies be happy left to their own devices in a cage their whole life?

    As a side note: I live in an area where it is not safe to let them outside to play due to wild animals and disease. Even when I do let them outside of their cage to roam about the house, they just explore for a few minutes and then find a spot to sleep.


    #1892933

    pinknfwuffy
    Participant

    Thank you for being honest about your situation and concerns. I don’t think this is abuse, necessarily, but you are right to worry if this is the best life for your bunnies. I understand that they seem to prefer the company of their bunny friend over humans, but it would help if they had more room to run around and stretch their legs. That pen sounds big enough for them to sleep and be kept in at night or when you’re not home but it would be really beneficial to have additional space you can let them out into so they can explore. Are they in a bedroom or a living space? If you had a bedroom or small room they can run around in safely that would be great. If not, an x-pen can be used to attach to their current pen and make it bigger.

    Bonding with your rabbits takes time and you will need to dedicate lots of quiet time sitting in their area but not directly interacting with them. Read a book or watch a movie while you sit with them and let them hop around you and smell you. Don’t pet them or touch them. Just let them get used to your presence. This takes time but they will learn you are a source of positive things, especially if you eventually offer treats.

    If you don’t think you will have enough time to care for and bond with them it may be worth considering finding them a new home. It’s a very difficult decision to make but the fact that you are worried and not sure if you can give them everything they need, it may be in their best interest to have a home with lots of playtime and social interaction. Find a local shelter or adoption agency and tell them your story. They will understand and help you find a safe home for them.

    Good luck.


    #1892949

    Meg
    Participant

    I came here to try to help, but what Pinknfwuffy said is exactly what I’d say too. That’s a very good take. Good luck!


    #1892967

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    Personally, yes I consider it abuse. It may not be the same as starving your rabbits or causing them pain, but keeping them caged is neglect and neglect = abuse.

    A 5ft x 5ft pen doesn’t sound particularly large tbh altho of course it is better than standard pet shop cages.

    There definitely are bunnies out there that are not interested in human attention and it’s great that yours are a bonded pair so they won’t get lonely but they still do need adequate space for exercise and general bunny-ing. It’s very unfair for them to be caged 24/7. I mean think about it, animals – just like people – don’t want to be cooped up. They want freedom. Even if all they’ll do in a large space is sleep, they need the option. It’s important for their mental health.

    If you are unable to provide this for them then yes I do think they should be rehomed. It’s kind to the animal to rehome him or her when you realise you cannot look after them properly.


    #1892978

    Dface
    Participant

    This isnt abuse.
    Its not the ideal way of keeping rabbits, but it certainly is not abuse.

    It would be better to give them the option to explore more often, rabbits are crepescular so morning and late evening are their active hours, you may find letting them out at 9 or 10 pm yields a very different result in terms of giddyness.

    5ft x 5ft isnt the worse size but they do need a bit more room if they aren’t going to be let out ever.

    So either look into giving them a larger area, or see about giving them some additional time to explore out if their pen.

    That being said I would not hugely recommend rehoming unless you absolutely know that they’ll go somewhere better.

    You’re rabbits could be in a much worse situation than living with you, and with just a small effort they could live a hugely satisfying life for buns.

    Ive had animals that would never bond with humans, and i just made sure they had access to everything they needed, and left them to their own devices.


    #1892988

    Mirpanda
    Participant

    I don’t think its abuse or neglect. They aren’t being mistreated at all, as long as you are providing them everything they need. I agree with everything Pinknfwuffy and Dface said. It’s really up to you, but if you decide re-homing is the best option, then you have to make sure the place they are going to is very familiar with what rabbits need. It won’t help to put them in a worse environment.


    #1892995

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    Posted By Mirpanda on 3/01/2019 10:15 AM
    I don’t think its abuse or neglect. They aren’t being mistreated at all, as long as you are providing them everything they need. I agree with everything Pinknfwuffy and Dface said. It’s really up to you, but if you decide re-homing is the best option, then you have to make sure the place they are going to is very familiar with what rabbits need. It won’t help to put them in a worse environment.

    …but they aren’t being given everything they need. Adequate space for exercise is one of the bare essentials so not providing it would classify as neglect.

    I’m genuinely shocked that this isn’t classified as abuse by some people.


    #1892996

    Asriel and Bombur
    Participant

    I have to agree this is pretty neglectful. I have two unbonded boys and let one of them run around overnight just so they both get adequate amount of time outside of their cages. It’s pretty cruel to leave a bunny in a cage all day, even if it’s decently sized. No animal should have to live like that, especially one as intelligent as a bunny. They can and probably already are depressed from not getting out enough. 3-4 hours is the minimum. I have to agree on rehoming. If you can’t give them adequate space, then no, they are not living their best life. Take them to a no-kill shelter if possible, or sell them for a decent price and give a car sheet outlining proper care and nutrition.


    #1892999

    Dface
    Participant

    Honestly the way we keep rabbits and the understanding behind them has come on hugely in a very short time frame. There is a lot of misinformation out there and the fact is thousands of rabbits are in dire need of better circumstances. These rabbits have a GOOD life.
    They are kept as a pair, they have access to toys and stimulus, and they dont live in a tiny petshop cage or tiny hutch.
    I mean arguably its abuse to keep rabbits indoors, because it denies them their very nature (to dig, burrow, eat grass which is what they are supposed to eat) a lot of indoor rabbits also lack enough vitamin D.


    #1893002

    Mirpanda
    Participant

    All I’m saying is that they aren’t in immediate danger or in a bad enough situation for them being re-homed to be an emergency. My understanding is the bunnies are still being let out of their cage, just not for as long. For this situation, I would really try to avoid taking them to a shelter as there may be other rabbits in more dire need of the shelters protection than these two. I would try to find a home for them yourself. Provide a care sheet and require a home visit to ensure they are going to a good home.


    #1893003

    DanaNM
    Moderator

    5 ft x 5 ft (so 25 sq feet) is a larger area than many rabbits have their whole lives, and is certainly not the same thing as being cooped up in a wire bottomed hutch all the time. I have to agree with Dface that your buns are certainly not abused.

    There is no shame in rehoming, but I think the fact that you are considering the best life for your buns shows that you are a conscientious owner.

    That said, I know my rescue recommends a minimum of 50 sq ft for exercise time. Even just a bit of time morning and evening to fully run at top speed would improve things a lot for them.

    In terms of bonding with them, simple things like hand feeding their veggies might really help.

    When I’m very busy, my bunny routine looks something like this. Wake up, open pen for them to run around. Feed veggies about 30 min later. Lock them back in when I head to work (about 30-60 min later). Repeat process when I go to bed. On a very busy day they get about 3 hours run around time, but on weekends I give them full days.

    You might also consider adding some levels to your pen so they have even more square feet and some interesting things to climb on.

    Do you feel like a schedule like that would work for your two?

    Sometimes I think the very “best” care seems so unachievable that it seems overwhelming… but small changes might make a big difference and get you most of the way there.


    #1893004

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    Posted By Dface on 3/01/2019 11:27 AM
    Honestly the way we keep rabbits and the understanding behind them has come on hugely in a very short time frame. There is a lot of misinformation out there and the fact is thousands of rabbits are in dire need of better circumstances. These rabbits have a GOOD life.
    They are kept as a pair, they have access to toys and stimulus, and they dont live in a tiny petshop cage or tiny hutch.
    I mean arguably its abuse to keep rabbits indoors, because it denies them their very nature (to dig, burrow, eat grass which is what they are supposed to eat) a lot of indoor rabbits also lack enough vitamin D.

    Despite having toys and a bunpanion, I don’t consider rabbits that are caged 24/7 to have a good life so I’m sorry we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    I don’t believe rabbits being kept indoors is abuse – inside they can be happy, healthy and safe and can form strong bonds with their humans. I can’t see any benefit to keeping rabbits in cages all the time so I don’t believe the two scenarios are comparable. Again, agree to disagree.


    #1893005

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    I’m confused – 5ft x 5ft is certainly larger than pet shop cages yes but I couldn’t imagine having 2 bunnies in that space and still expect it to be adequately sized :-/ I mean, I’m 5ft tall so I’m imagining me laying on the floor (?) lengthways and widthways and honestly the space looks pretty small (in my head) especially when you consider that in that space will be litter trays, water bowls, hidey homes & toys.


    #1893006

    Kiki
    Participant

    I don’t find it to be abuse. A bit neglectful, yes. I think I would either try harder to give them time and attention first, if you can’t do that then maybe try privately rehoming them first. Craigslist, etc. I would hate to see more buns wind up in the shelter, they don’t always adopt out the fastest. Right now at least they have each other, a warm home, adequate food etc.


    #1893016

    Dface
    Participant

    Sometimes I think the very “best” care seems so unachievable that it seems overwhelming… but small changes might make a big difference and get you most of the way there.

    If anything gets taken away from this thread it should be this.

    When I got my first bun he lived in a cage, then he got the bedroom, then he got the whole house.
    Then I made a purpose built glasshouse for the next pair.
    None of this happened over night and it was a slow evolution of better living.

    Little steps make a huge difference. Opening the door just while you are in the room for even just 10 mins if you do it every time your in the room helps add up.
    Adding levels to the existing cage is also another good idea!


    #1893029

    BB Administrator
    Keymaster

    Hi everyone — Thank you everyone for keeping this civil. This is the type of thread that can get heated because there will be strong differing opinions. Since the OP asked if it’s “abuse” or not, this has the potential to get heated. Just the question phrased that way throws out some smoking embers to begin with. (Though I know that’s not the OP’s intention). But don’t let this turn into a firestorm. We all care about the welfare of our rabbits, and members will be passionate about it and may be upset at opposing viewpoints. This is a good opportunity to express your viewpoint. Stay civil — Can educate AND learn from other points of views.

    And in some cases agree to disagree. But just calmly explaining/educating can offer helpful feedback to this OP and others reading this in the future.

    Thank you to all members who are keeping this thread stable even within disagreements. Keep it up.


    My Test Signature v2

    #1893040

    BinkyBunny
    Keymaster

    Sorry this is so long!  I didn’t realize how much I wrote until I got to the end!  

    I double ditto Dface’s quote of Dana’s post— “Sometimes I think the very “best” care seems so unachievable that it seems overwhelming… but small changes might make a big difference and get you most of the way there.”

    Since I don’t post as much, I try to look back and see the history of the member’s postings so I can get caught up. It is very obvious you care very much about rabbits.  You have helped even rescue some for a dire situation and look to adopt out.  I agree with Pinknwuffy about the fact you want to know if this is an okay situation definitely shows you want them to be happy even if they are not so human friendly. 

    Because I have seen “abuse” working at the SPCA hospital and at another local Humane Society during my college summers, as well as volunteered for many years for rabbit rescues later in life, I would not classify this as abuse.  So my use and understanding of the word abuse is based on the horrific things you can’t unsee.  However, I do believe your bunnies would have a happier life having  time out to explore, run and binky.   Based on your past posts, I understand they can be destructive and there can be some ways to deal with that. 

    Regarding rehoming:  Here is my take on this based on my experience working and volunteering for many years. While “No kill” shelters say they don’t euthanize, what they usually mean is they don’t euthanize “adoptable” animals. (as city shelters/acc do).     If an animal has challenging (not human friendly) behavioral challenges they can’t change, a non-kill shelter may opt for euthanasia.   However, Rabbit Rescues will find sanctuaries for hard core behavior problems — but they don’t usually take in rescues from private parties.  They already have their hands full trying to save the bunnies that are at risk to be euthanized or are scheduled to be euthanized at shelters. (11th hour bunnies).

    Even adopting out yourself can be a little risky if you have some challenging bunny behaviors.  You already know their behaviors — that they can be destructive and that they are not that human friendly. (I understand, not aggressive — just tolerant).  Those issues could put them in danger with anyone else.  Say you adopted them out to someone and they started tearing up the house and the new person just wants them gone.  So you would have to give full disclosure to find the right person to handle it all.    

    So my current opinion is to opt for keeping them and making some changes- even a little bit at a time. I agree with the others that have said they need some exercise space.  While I know you are busy, and time is limited, there must be times in which you just sit watch TV, look your phone, tablet, computer, even for 30 minutes.  I know you are worried about free-roaming due bunny destruction.  Then get another one or two pens and expand their area for play/exercise time, still protecting your walls, furniture etc.    If they destroy floors there is a way to solve that too.    Plus, slowly increasing their space,helps them understand where their litter box is.  Keep their hidey house and things in the same place even when you expand so they see that still as “their” spot and will be less likely to mark in the expanded space.  There are xpens that have areas that are easy to open to step through so it’s not a hassle for you when you want to go through.   I also suggest that if you do decide to do this, that exercise area pens are added to their 5 x 5 space in a way that keeps the 5 x 5 space in tact so they see that as “their” territory and the rest of the expanded space as neutral space — again will help with marking issues. 

    With expanded space, you may be able to see them shine — but it will take time.  Just hang out and relax in that space or near that space – which can be a very peaceful time for a “busy busy” person. 


    #1893061

    LBJ10
    Moderator

    I agree with everything BB said.


    #1893173

    LittlePuffyTail
    Moderator

    Well said, BB. Nothing else to add.


    #1893330

    Q8bunny
    Participant

    Hi Cinnabun! ??

    You obviously care about and want to do right by your buns. There has been some good constructive feedback among all the replies, so I’m not going to offer repeat suggestions for relatively minor yet impactful changes to your pair’s routine. I will just say thank you for fighting the good fight and I hope you guys find a middle ground that both you and the buns can feel good about.


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