Raising Rabbits

Rabbits are small mammals that belong to an order called lagomorphs. They are are very intelligent, curious and sociable animals that are instinctively most active during dawn and dusk. They are prolific breeders, and probably for this reason, are often used as a symbol of fertility (think Easter bunny), and playful sexuality (think Playboy bunny). Out in the wilds, rabbits are prey animals and because of this have evolved to become constantly aware of their surroundings. For instance, they have developed a remarkably wide field of vision and very powerful sense of hearing. A male rabbit is called a buck, a female is a doe, and a young rabbit is a kitten or a kit. Their normal life expectancy is about 9-12 years. There are many species of rabbits but the only type to be widely domesticated as  a pet and for food and fur is the European rabbit. The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) currently recognizes 47 unique breeds of domesticated rabbit with such names as the American fuzzy lop, Belgian hare, checkered giant, English Angora, Florida white, lilac, mini satin, Rhinelander, silver marten, tan, cinnamon, and harlequin. Since the early days, rabbits have been bred and raised for their meat, fur and wool. More recently, they have also been used for laboratory experiments and medical testing. Commercial rabbit meat, which is high in protein, tastes like chicken meat and is similarly classified as either Fryer, Roaster or giblets. Rabbit wool, called Angora, is said to be 5 times warmer than sheep's wool. Rabbit fur made into pelts go into the manufacture of clothing and accessories like hats, belts and scarves. And at the laboratory, rabbits are used in the production of antibodies for vaccines as well as for research, especially in regard to the male reproductive system. Aside from their commercial use, domesticated rabbits have also been raised as household pets. They are less expensive to maintain than dogs and they can be easily litter-box trained. Pet rabbits can be kept outdoors or indoors. Accommodations can range from an outdoor hutch to an indoor cage or pen to the free run of the home. Of course, if kept indoors, you must rabbit-proof your home as they love to chew on electrical cords, plants, telephone cords, wires, your furniture. As for feeding them, a pet rabbit's diet typically consists of unlimited hay, a small amount of pellets, and lots of fresh vegetables. They should also have unrestricted access to fresh clean water. Take note that rabbits have [...]