BARTONVILLE — There’s a lot people don’t know about rabbits, a fact The Charitable Rabbit is working to change.
The Pekin-based not-for-profit filled the floor of B.J. Karaoke Saloon in Bartonville with rabbits during an Exotic Pet Pageant Saturday afternoon. While there were also reptiles and guinea pigs at the fundraiser, the rabbits kind of stole the show. A variety of breeds were present, including lionhead, lop, Californian, dwarf and mini rex.
The group was raising money to further their mission. They provide vouchers to help people spay or neuter their bunnies. They also help people find a qualified vet to do the procedure. Even though bunnies are the third most popular pet worldwide — right behind dogs and cats — they are actually considered exotic pets, which means many vets don’t treat them.
“I work in the veterinary industry and I foster rabbits, and I realized there are not a lot of resources around here for rabbits,” said Charity Gullett, president of The Charitable Rabbit. “That’s why we started our non-profit.”
One of the area vets who treats rabbits collaborates with the group. Dr. Kourtney Grimm of Lange Animal Clinic in Pekin attended the fair Saturday.
“I go to an exotics conference every year to further my learning,” she said. “I also have other colleagues to reach out to with questions.”
Veterinary care is particularly important for rabbits because female rabbits have a high chance of developing reproductive cancers if they aren't neutered. Another reason to neuter is to find out the rabbit’s gender — it can be very hard to tell, said Gullett.
“I had a friend who thought they had two male rabbits and they came home one day to baby rabbits,” she said. Bunnies can reproduce every 30 days.
One of the issues facing pet bunnies is that most people don’t get the facts before they bringing one home.
“So many people just get them on impulse,” said Gullett “They think they are easy, and that is not the case. We want to make sure adopters are well-informed.”
Rabbits don’t make good pets for children, she said.
“They are very delicate — their bones are hollow — and they generally don’t like being held. They can break their backs when they struggle to get away,” she said.
Rabbits also don’t do well in small cages. They need to have more room to roam. And many of the commercial foods available at local pet stores don’t provide the right nutrition, said Gullett.
“People think carrots are OK because of Bugs Bunny, but they shouldn’t have them very much. Only as an occasional treat,” said Gullett. “The best food is Timothy Hay, which you can get at pet stores or online.” Rabbits also like fresh greens, like romaine lettuce, red lettuce, parsley and cilantro.
Bunnies often end up in animal shelters because people aren’t better informed, and that’s a shame, said Gullett, because they actually make terrific pets in the right situation.
“They are fun. Each rabbit’s personality is different, and they blossom when in the right environment,” she said. “They have all these goofy, funny antics.”
To learn more about The Charitable Rabbit, visit their Facebook page, or contact them at email@example.com
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.