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EASTER SPECIAL — How not to break a rabbit’s heart (and spirit)

We’ve all heard of a spouse following a spouse to the other side. How their life force finds a way to ‘follow their heart’ so to speak. A dog will mope for weeks upon losing it’s person. A cat? Well, it depends upon the cat. But a rabbit? A rabbit’s heart can break when their human goes on vacation for a month. When their heart breaks, death follows. This is something surprising and mysterious to many of us. How bonded a rabbit becomes to their human. Story after story confirms this from domestic rabbit owners I’ve come into contact with over the years. Rabbits are family oriented and extremely social. Given their prey disposition, once domesticated they are not likely to go out and find homage with another human or rabbit family. You’re pretty much IT for that rabbit for life. A domesticated rabbit can live 8-12 years or more. In the wild? 1 year average.

Easter is here. And its a time when many will fall in love with the little critters and take them home, only to release them in the woods or take them to the human society, or simply not know how to meet their needs. Rabbits require education. There are many quirks that aren’t in the general media milieu that can kill them. A broken heart for instance can literally kill a rabbit. It isn’t common knowledge how bonded rabbits are to their humans. When neglected or abandoned they can die, literally of a broken heart.

Things to consider to avoid breaking a rabbit’s heart.

  • Don’t adopt lightly. When rabbits are treated with love and respect they become as affectionate as a dog or cat. Like a horse, it requires patience, gentleness and faith. My shy-est rabbit used to cling to her mate and ignore me for her first months with us. Then one day it was all about me. She now flops on my bare feet in the morning and purrs or nudges my hand when she wants attention.
  • Give them at least 20 minutes of undivided attention and play time per day. They look like they are sleeping. They are actually politely waiting for your love.
  • Every night give them a little good night pet. They get lonely when you sleep so this is important.
  • When you go on vacation make sure someone is with them doing all the things you do and talk to them from your phone through the bunny sitter. It works really well for depressed rabbits. Leave your Bunny Suicides book behind and think positively.
  • Even though they look at you like you are scum (they can’t help the shape of their noses and mouths that imprint this judgmental, I don’t approve look). Let’s face it, most of them are put in a cold metal box to weather the outdoors and given a few fat filled pellets daily — their DNA memories warrant such an expression. But see past it. They are such sensitive, smart and affectionate creatures who want to please you.
  • On litter training: It takes all of 3 minutes to litter train them, and your home smells like fresh grass. And with their enthusiasm for veggies you wonder what you’ve been missing out on.
  • Inside pens: Also their’s no reason to pen them or cage them. They stick near their litter box. My rabbits don’t chew. I trained them out of it in 6 weeks. All these things are possible when love is involved. ; )

How Not to Break a Rabbit’s Heart? Just treat them with the respect and care you would any being you love…like you would a great meal, or your dog, or your child. And know rabbits are all about family. So if you treat them as such you’ll have an amazing addition(s) to your home.

—They love to sleep on soft cotton things too. Not sure why people put them in those really uncomfortable small metal cages.



  • Elaine on Apr 06, 2012 Reply


    Thank you for the informative article. Could you tell me how you trained your rabbits not to chew? I have a female who insists on chewing and my efforts have failed so far. Thanks!

    • nwadmin on Apr 17, 2012 Reply

      Yes. Every time she wants to chew, put a stick or piece of cardboard in front of her. When she chews that, give her lots of praise. And then leave “chewable” stuff around her. When she goes to chew on something that is “off limits” – say “no” and gently motion her, herd her back to her pen area and again put the “chewables” in front of her. Depending upon the rabbit this can take a week to 6 months to train. But once trained, that’s it… no more worries.

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