Behind the image of the furry ball of cuteness … a reality not all fluffy and wonderful.
Those little rabbits people see sitting in a pet shop's cage? Often times, they are frightened of the human fingers prodding in between the metal bars. Have you ever noticed the small, startled “jump” a bunny would make when someone touches him/her?
And those other rabbits hunched up with their front paws tucked underneath? They are probably in distress and discomfort, due to a severe stomach upset from the inadequate diet they have to eat every single day.
Facts regarding pet shops:
- From their point of view, animals are products; items which can be sold to yield profit. Even if several rabbits fall ill and die, “so what”?
- Given the reproductive abilities of rabbits (1 female can give birth to 6-12 kits monthly), the pet store can easily get new ones to “replenish stock”.
- Most of the times, pet shops also sell rabbits who are too young. These young rabbits aren't even completely weaned – yet having the appearance of adorable miniature plushes, they attract many, many buy-on-impulse sales.
Common misconceptions from pet shops:
"Why must rabbits eat hay? My local pet store only gives them a bowl of pellets each.”
Answer: High-fibre grass hay such as Timothy hay is crucial in maintaining the efficiency of a rabbit's digestive system. A rabbit's gut needs to be constantly moving, and hay provides the fibre needed. Sadly, the majority of the pet shops choose to feed only pellets for the sake of convenience and to save costs.
“Shouldn't rabbits be kept in a cage? I notice some pet shops even keep 5 – 6 rabbits in one.”
Answer: Rabbits may be smaller in size compared to dogs and cats (which gives the impression of being “compact”), but they require just as much space! In cages, rabbits can't stretch out or stand up on their hind legs properly. Not only is this mentally stressful, in the long-term ... it could lead to frightening physical health issues.
Erling was kept in a small hutch for 10 years. When Erling finally was rescued, he could hardly walk.
Radiographs revealed degenerative arthritis in his spine as well as his knees, hips and shoulders, incisor overgrowth and a sludgy bladder. This had probably caused pain and discomfort for several years. However, the most obvious was nevertheless his lack of abdominal muscles. Since the rabbit never had developed and maintained a normal musculature, there was nothing that kept the intestines and stomach in place. Radiographs of Erling looked more like a run-over frog than a rabbit.
Erling passed away soon after.
“Erling got to be 10 years old, but he only lived for 8 weeks.”
Marit Emilie Buseth, Ten years in a hutch and the effects of a sedentary life, <http://ww1.rabbit-behaviour-health-and-care.com/>
We have all grown up with the idea of pet shops – the “place where there are friendly, furry animals” … It is the lack of awareness that we unknowingly contribute to the suffering of more animals. All of us meant no harm, as many of our animals companions indeed came from pet shops.
They were the lucky ones. What about the others?
Look at the reality of pet shops, and let us not be the blind purchases of animals.