Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rabbit Personalities

One of the most helpful articles I read while planning to become a new rabbit owner was Your First House Rabbit: What to Expect by Dana Krempels, Ph.D. It’s a short article, but it really hammers home what the world must feel like from a bunny’s perspective. One of the lines that always stood out the most to me is:
"Probably the single most frequent question we get about rabbits as companions is, 'Is a rabbit more like a cat or a dog?' The answer: neither. Dogs and cats have been bred for centuries to not be afraid of humans. Rabbits have been bred primarily for meat, fur and physical characteristics. That means that when you adopt a bunny, you adopt a lovely, domestic animal with the heart and spirit of a wild animal."
Having originally gotten into the idea of rabbit ownership based on the misconception that a rabbit had a similar personality to a dog, this was disappointing to read. I somehow translated the notion that rabbits can be social, like dogs, to an idealistic opinion that rabbits love nothing more than to cuddle up with you or fetch your favorite pair of slippers.

It is true that parts of Walter’s personality remind me of dogs I’ve had in the past. Walter is excited when I come over to greet him. He’ll do almost anything for a special treat (usually a sprig of basil or mint). Sometimes he’s content to lie on the floor and receive pets. And when I’m sad or sick, sometimes I think he notices and cares.

But there are also many of Walter’s personality traits that are brand new to me in a pet. Walter holds grudges. If he thinks he’s been treated unfairly (kept in the cage too long, banned from the bathroom, etc.), he sulks. He won’t be friendly for hours. He’s disobedient. Walter never comes when he’s called. Walter is stubborn and willful. If he has his mind set on accomplishing something, like squeezing underneath the entertainment center to get to some wires, he’ll stop at nothing to do it.

Walter is more like a human than like any dog I’ve ever owned. It certainly makes rabbit ownership exciting – and frustrating! What were your misconceptions about rabbit personalities prior to owning your first rabbit? How did your rabbit surprise you?

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