Seeking serious advice

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Liamallory

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(Content warning for talk about depression and anxiety)

Hello. This would probably be a long read, but I’m deeply grateful to anyone who will stick through to the end. Even more so to anyone who can give me advice for my situation. I know that parts of what I’ll be talking about are topics that many of you and other people who are aware of misconceptions people have about rabbits may find frustrating, but I hope you’ll give me a chance to explain.

I aimed to take in a rabbit one day, and I’ve been making sure to do my due diligence and research (about their diets, behavior, other important needs, etc.) , and I told myself that I’ll only take in a rabbit once I’m stable, educated, and confident enough to give it the proper care it deserves. One major reason I have not seen myself as ready is the fact that I’m battling clinical anxiety and depression, which all the recent global events haven’t helped any.

Unfortunately, my parents decided to give me a pair of baby rabbits out of the blue around early December, without any knowledge of the special needs and considerations of taking care of one (let alone two). It was enough to send me into a panic, but I was thankful to have enough savings and to have done prior research on reliable stores to be able to get a cage, playpen, a couple of soft mats and blankets, and hay for both of them within a couple of days and a visit to the vet (who’s currently got them under treatment for slight mange on their feet).

My parents seem to have realized their mistake, but that doesn’t change that right now I’m caring for two rabbits, and I could tell that it’s set off my anxiety and depression to very high levels. (Just today, I’ve had anxiety attacks four times, which is why I decided to write this down and seek advice from this forum.)

I won’t lie. They’ve only been with me for a couple of weeks, but I’m considering rehoming them. Mainly because I don’t think I’m fit enough to be their parent/caretaker. I’ve been reading researches and tutorials and watching videos nonstop since I got them, to make sure I’m doing what I can, but I fear that I might be starting to break down.

And what frustrates me is the rabbits don’t deserve any of this. I know I’ve already agitated them several times over my panics (especially just yesterday, when I feared one of them may have had bloat, and the nearest emergency clinic was at least three cities away, and everyone at home was too busy with Christmas preparations). Our home isn’t big either (as I currently live in my parents’ home with two other siblings, although I am a working adult – it’s kind of a customary thing in my country), so I’m not sure how much exercise I’m allowing the two of them to get in my tiny room. (Sadly too, no one else at home seems keen on being taught how to properly care for rabbits – not even my parents, even if they realized their mistake.)

I’m very VERY well aware of the widespread maltreatment of rabbits being ignorantly given as holiday gifts only to be abandoned months later and how overwhelmed the small pool of volunteers in my country (where there is very little rabbit awareness) already are, and that’s what I’ve been drawing from to try and fight to care for both of my rabbits, but I’m not sure it’s enough. I truly want them to find a place where they’ll be well taken care of and loved by someone who knows just how much care and love they need, but I struggle with thinking of how they’ll most probably have to be on a waitlist for it, and that they’ll find their way on that waitlist in the first place because of me. But I also know I can’t gamble their care on my mental health.

So this is where I’m at right now. I don’t know which direction to take, and I thought I’d seek the advice of people who’ve a lot more background than me on caring for rabbits. If there are any fellow Filipino/Philippines-based rabbit caretakers who’re reading this, I hope you can give me advice and suggestions on potential fosters I can look into in case rehoming ends up being the decision I make. I know Rabbit Awareness Philippines is a common go-to, but I also know they already have a number of other fosters they’re taking care of and are still waiting for furever homes, so I don’t want to overwhelm them further. I’m willing to pay what I can for their care (and will also hand over the supplies I currently have: cage, pen, food, some toys/rugs, etc.) and potentially even the cost of spaying (which I have already inquired the price of at their vet clinic, Vets in Practice Alabang).

Thank you for reading.
 

Preitler

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I’ve been reading researches and tutorials and watching videos nonstop since I got them, to make sure I’m doing what I can, but I fear that I might be starting to break down.
I would stop that entirely. Caring for rabbits isn't complicated, by now you've got an idea what it's all about. All those clips and snippets are opinions you don't need, all those "you need this or that", feed this super science stuff (that's just marketing). Chose a simple hay based diet, a few pwllets and veggies, and stick with it. You don't need to buy much stuff for rabbits, or to keep them entertained.

I got rabbits for vagually similiar reasons, I can't have an own dog because all that attention, depending on me etc would be to muc, can deal with it for some weeks but I#m pretty worn out when I return foster dogs to their owners. Rabbits are ideal for me, not really pets but room mates, and they entertain and groom each other.
 

Diane R

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On the positive side, you have done your research about diet, etc. It is very unfortunate your parents think it is OK to give pets as presents. Never a good idea! However, now that they are there, I do believe you can take care of them and don't need to rehome them. The priority should be to get them to a good rabbit vet and make sure you know what sexes they are. Get them neutered as soon as you can. The last thing you need is more bunnies... If they are male and female you need to keep them separate until 8 weeks after the last one is neutered. Even if they are the same sex, it's not safe to keep them together unless you can get them neutered very young. Anyway, you can do this! You may find that when you spend more time with them, they really help your mental health. Join the Philippines FB group here for support: Rabbit Lovers Philippines
 

Liamallory

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I would stop that entirely. Caring for rabbits isn't complicated, by now you've got an idea what it's all about. All those clips and snippets are opinions you don't need, all those "you need this or that", feed this super science stuff (that's just marketing). Chose a simple hay based diet, a few pwllets and veggies, and stick with it. You don't need to buy much stuff for rabbits, or to keep them entertained.

I got rabbits for vagually similiar reasons, I can't have an own dog because all that attention, depending on me etc would be to muc, can deal with it for some weeks but I#m pretty worn out when I return foster dogs to their owners. Rabbits are ideal for me, not really pets but room mates, and they entertain and groom each other.
My main problem is I know next to nothing about rabbit care from experience and the people around me who have any experience growing rabbits have many misconceptions/lack of knowledge regarding caring for them, due again to there being very little awareness of rabbits as pets here. So all I can mostly rely on is information available online. You mentioned dogs, and coincidentally, I was thinking of how it probably would have been better/easier if my rabbits had been dogs/cats instead (this is not to say that getting any other type of pet as a gift for anyone is any less wrong than getting someone rabbits), mostly because there's wider access to and awareness of dog/cat needs and vets. I also wish I could see caring for them as uncomplicated as you've said, but the fact that they're generally more fragile and the less knowledge and resources about them available vs. dogs and cats has been weighing on me.
 

Liamallory

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On the positive side, you have done your research about diet, etc. It is very unfortunate your parents think it is OK to give pets as presents. Never a good idea! However, now that they are there, I do believe you can take care of them and don't need to rehome them. The priority should be to get them to a good rabbit vet and make sure you know what sexes they are. Get them neutered as soon as you can. The last thing you need is more bunnies... If they are male and female you need to keep them separate until 8 weeks after the last one is neutered. Even if they are the same sex, it's not safe to keep them together unless you can get them neutered very young. Anyway, you can do this! You may find that when you spend more time with them, they really help your mental health. Join the Philippines FB group here for support: Rabbit Lovers Philippines
It definitely was not a good idea on my parents' part, I agree. And I've already gotten the rabbits checked by a nearby vet and got told they're both male, but I've also scheduled with another one who's known to be more knowledgeable about rabbits for next week. The first vet told me though that we will need to recheck in a couple of weeks because they're still young and there's a large margin of error in sexing baby rabbits. The keeping them separate is another thing that has me concerned because I only have so much space in my room and I'm frightened that separating them might cause stress since they look to be littermates and close, and I've read about how another rabbit's companionship helps a lot with their stress. Thanks so much for the encouragement.
 

Diane R

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It definitely was not a good idea on my parents' part, I agree. And I've already gotten the rabbits checked by a nearby vet and got told they're both male, but I've also scheduled with another one who's known to be more knowledgeable about rabbits for next week. The first vet told me though that we will need to recheck in a couple of weeks because they're still young and there's a large margin of error in sexing baby rabbits. The keeping them separate is another thing that has me concerned because I only have so much space in my room and I'm frightened that separating them might cause stress since they look to be littermates and close, and I've read about how another rabbit's companionship helps a lot with their stress. Thanks so much for the encouragement.
You've got this! Get them neutered together at about 12 weeks, that way you don't need to separate them with any luck. And join the Philippines group. Lots of good local advice and support available there.
 

Preitler

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My main problem is I know next to nothing about rabbit care from experience and the people around me who have any experience growing rabbits have many misconceptions/lack of knowledge regarding caring for them, due again to there being very little awareness of rabbits as pets here. So all I can mostly rely on is information available online. You mentioned dogs, and coincidentally, I was thinking of how it probably would have been better/easier if my rabbits had been dogs/cats instead (this is not to say that getting any other type of pet as a gift for anyone is any less wrong than getting someone rabbits), mostly because there's wider access to and awareness of dog/cat needs and vets. I also wish I could see caring for them as uncomplicated as you've said, but the fact that they're generally more fragile and the less knowledge and resources about them available vs. dogs and cats has been weighing on me.
Oh well, I tend to forget how little I knew myself when I started. Back then I needed something in my life, something to care for, a reason to get out of the bed every day. Since rabbits were common lifestock where I grew up and because I had the resources available that was why rabbits. By the end of the year I ended up with a single rabbit being indoors in quarantine, sole survivor of a Myxo outbreak. Fury tought me the hard way how capable, determined, and diverse creatures rabbits are, kept her indoors through winter because she had no chance to grow a winter coat, and she pretty much wrecked my apartment :D
I still recheck their genders weekly when it's time to seperate them, and also get a fellow breeder to give me a second opinion, errors when sexing happen even to experienced people.

What I would encourage you is to trust your own intuitions, feelings and conclusions. Don't stress yourself. If you think something isn't quite right, reading online can give hints, different viewpoints and ways to approach the issue. The danger lies in just watching randomly and getting the feeling that averyone knows better, which really isn't true.

As Diane R. said, getting them neutered as soon as possible enhances the chances of them getting along, talk with the vets at what age they are willing to do it. I keep bucklings together for about 4 months, sometimes longer but then I can see tensions building up, and mine are in larger groups which makes things somewhat less risky and I have not to worry about them getting along long term if they happen to have an escalation.
Joining local groups is a good idea too, like, on facebook, there are quite some differences across the world regarding vets, diets, climate, breeds etc.
 
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Moonshadow

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While rabbits can be fragile, they are also “hardier” than what you read online. A lot of what you read are people who have something go wrong or are unsure about something, so they ask for help. That kind of skews everything to appear like bunnies are constantly injured, prone to diseases, etc.

With my first rabbit, he never got sick until he was six. When he was six, I saw him lose his balance and collapse. We took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with a minor ear infection. It was treated and he lived another two years.

In my opinion, rabbits are harder to care for than cats (who are generally fairly independent) but less work than dogs (who needs walks, to be taken out to the bathroom, etc). They’re sort of in the middle. Like all pets, bunnies all have their own personalities, quirks, and genetics. Some can go for years without having any problems while others need to be a bit more help from their owner to be healthy. Just take everything one day at a time, do your best, learn your bunnies normal behavior, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re unsure of anything.
 

Barbara

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My main problem is I know next to nothing about rabbit care from experience and the people around me who have any experience growing rabbits have many misconceptions/lack of knowledge regarding caring for them, due again to there being very little awareness of rabbits as pets here. So all I can mostly rely on is information available online. You mentioned dogs, and coincidentally, I was thinking of how it probably would have been better/easier if my rabbits had been dogs/cats instead (this is not to say that getting any other type of pet as a gift for anyone is any less wrong than getting someone rabbits), mostly because there's wider access to and awareness of dog/cat needs and vets. I also wish I could see caring for them as uncomplicated as you've said, but the fact that they're generally more fragile and the less knowledge and resources about them available vs. dogs and cats has been weighing on me.
I didn't know much about rabbits either. I have dogs and cats and my bun is easier to care for then those guys. I also find him to help with my depression as well. I can sit on the floor or couch with him and he loves me up. He is very entertaining with making me smile and laugh throughout the day. He gets a salad everyday, some pellets, hay and water and of course some treats here and there and he is one happy bunny. He gets locked up every night, for his own safety, then he has about a 6x5 extra play area while I am up. He was also very easy to litter train. I have found he makes me just as happy if not more than my pups and kitties. I would definitely give it some time. Once you realize there is no reason to stress about the buns you may notice they are actually very calming. Let them get to know you and you them before giving up on them. My guy really does bring joy to my life.
 

Liamallory

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While rabbits can be fragile, they are also “hardier” than what you read online. A lot of what you read are people who have something go wrong or are unsure about something, so they ask for help. That kind of skews everything to appear like bunnies are constantly injured, prone to diseases, etc.

With my first rabbit, he never got sick until he was six. When he was six, I saw him lose his balance and collapse. We took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with a minor ear infection. It was treated and he lived another two years.

In my opinion, rabbits are harder to care for than cats (who are generally fairly independent) but less work than dogs (who needs walks, to be taken out to the bathroom, etc). They’re sort of in the middle. Like all pets, bunnies all have their own personalities, quirks, and genetics. Some can go for years without having any problems while others need to be a bit more help from their owner to be healthy. Just take everything one day at a time, do your best, learn your bunnies normal behavior, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re unsure of anything.
Thank you for this. it helped me reconsider my thoughts a little, especially when you mentioned what can be read online skewing images of rabbits. Admittedly, most of the material I've been reading indeed center on rabbit injuries and diseases and I had a laugh realizing it's like a rabbit equivalent of looking up a tiny symptom on WebMD and seeing all the heavy illnesses connected to it. The anxiety's still here, but I think my perspective's shifted a little.

And what you mentioned about the differences between rabbits is something I think I'm learning right now. One of my rabbits is energetic and much friendlier and open to people, but the other one's had me worried pretty much since I first got him because of how nervous he is and his reactions to certain food.

I've only experienced having dogs as pets at home, so I might have a bias with thinking how easier they are to manage as pets. I'm honestly praying that eventually one day I'll look back to this time and have a good laugh at how I was too needlessly worried.
 

Liamallory

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I didn't know much about rabbits either. I have dogs and cats and my bun is easier to care for then those guys. I also find him to help with my depression as well. I can sit on the floor or couch with him and he loves me up. He is very entertaining with making me smile and laugh throughout the day. He gets a salad everyday, some pellets, hay and water and of course some treats here and there and he is one happy bunny. He gets locked up every night, for his own safety, then he has about a 6x5 extra play area while I am up. He was also very easy to litter train. I have found he makes me just as happy if not more than my pups and kitties. I would definitely give it some time. Once you realize there is no reason to stress about the buns you may notice they are actually very calming. Let them get to know you and you them before giving up on them. My guy really does bring joy to my life.
Your bun sounds like an amazing little guy. I would love for my buns and I to reach something like what you two have in the near future.
 

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