Seeing the constant updates about rabbit abuse in Singapore on my newsfeed made me feel really unhappy, as such I decided to do something as a blogger to help raise awareness for this cause.
Earlier, I called Jackie and Lynne – the founders of Bunny Wonderland – to find out more information and stories about rabbit abuse. They shared that most of the abuse is caused by irresponsibility – neglect and the lack of initiative to find out about rabbit care before keeping one.
I decided to compile some of the stories of rabbit abuse in Singapore into this blog entry and hope that it would be useful to anyone who is keeping rabbits, intends to keep a rabbit or who has a loving kind heart and doesn’t want to see animals being unnecessarily abused.
Here are some of the five common misconceptions about rabbits which has led to their mistreatment.
Myth 1: Rabbits enjoy being cuddled and carried. As such, they make good starter pets for children
Many people buy rabbits for young children under the age of 10 to make their kids happy. However, this is a major mistake for several reasons.
Firstly, as prey animals by nature, rabbits are afraid of height and being suddenly picked up. They will struggle when they are lifted and handled roughly. There are several cases where by children pick up rabbits and drop them because the bunnies struggle out to fear. This has led to severe injury and lifelong disability.
This rabbit is named Troy.
Troy suffered a spinal injury due to mishandling and it left his hind legs paralyzed for life. The dumbass irresponsible owner decided to put this young boy to sleep (as though disabling him wasn’t enough).
He signed the paper, and left. The vet saw sparkles in his eyes and couldn’t bear to let him go. She called Jackie. Without a doubt, Jackie gave him a second chance.
Troy had to have his left hind leg removed as it was a burden to his body. It had been deteriorating and causing him discomfort and a lot of inconvenience. . However, he stayed strong.
“In my opinion, not easy for a human who lost a leg to learn how to accept the fact and balancing in future walking, and left alone a tiny little bunny. But, our Troy did it.” said Jackie.
Always remember that rabbits and perhaps all other animals as well want to interact with humans on their own terms.
Rabbits prefer to communicate quietly, on the floor. Loud voices and quick, sudden movements — in other words, normal childhood behaviors — are frightening to a rabbit.
They also do not like to be picked up and cuddled.
If you want to buy a rabbit for your child, make sure they are responsible and mature enough to understand the rabbit’s needs.
If you see any childcare centre keeping rabbits, speak to them and tell them about how children’s insistence to touch, handle and loud screams are often traumatizing to these poor animals. It is not educating these kids at all. It just teaches them not to respect animals and their need to have personal space and communicate on their own terms.
Myth 2: Rabbit should be kept in cages and/or outdoors
Bunny Wonderland has encountered several families which keep their rabbits along the corridor. This is problematic for several reasons.
Firstly, keeping rabbits outdoors exposes them to the elements like sun, rain, temperature changes etc. Rabbits may be able to thrive in the wild in countries like Holland. However in Singapore, it is a totally different story. They have a thick fur coats and could get heatstroke under the sun.
The humid condition is also favourable to mites and parasite growth. These are two rabbits Faith and Hope who were kept outdoors. They were badly infected with scabies and highly contagious mite disease.
Thankfully Bunny Wonderland took them in and cured them, saving them from both disfigurement and death.
Being outside also exposes rabbits to the dangers of predatory animals like cats or even ants. This year, 6 lionheads that were cruelly dumped in Bishan Park and Bunny Wonderland had to search for all of them.
One of the rabbits, Anthea, was found all covered in red ants and all her fur were horrible matted. She was very skinny and weak. It was beyond us how anyone can do this to a innocent little rabbit. Thankfully, she is all recovered now!
Another bad thing about keeping rabbits outdoor is that they don’t become part of the family. It increases the likelihood of you neglecting and forgetting about them.
There was a recent case in Bunny Wonderland whereby two rabbits Momo and Smallie were left in uncleaned cages, not groomed and barely fed because the stupid owners had ‘no time’. Yea right, got time to watch tv and no time to feed a rabbit?
The cage was left uncleaned and the rabbits went hungry. Bunny Wonderland noticed that Momo had a very bloated stomach and Smallie was not moving much. Fearing for their survival, the owners concluded they are unable to care for it and requested that Bunny Wonderland take them away.
Momo was diagnosed with a gas accumulation in her tummy as well as a serious ear infection. Smallie also has a ear infection but it was the horribly stained butt that shocked us. There were at least a week’s worth of soft stool stucked on him and he could not move because his fur were clumpy and his skin were all red. It was a truly heartbreaking sight to see both rabbits in such condition. Both rabbits are now on long term medication to nurse them back to health.
So, if you see people keeping their rabbits along the corridors, here is what Bunny Wonderland advises you to do
At BW, we choose to educate than to reprimand. If you are confronted with such cases, we suggest you approach with caution and if you feel comfortable enough, talk to the neighbor with a ‘smile’ and find out why their pets are housed outdoor. Talk to them about how rabbits are domesticated as indoor pets. Suggest to them ways to keep rabbits clean by litter-training and offering the right diet. Most importantly, educate them on sterilization to ensure their rabbits don’t multiply and create more unnecessary lives that can be harmed . If you require further assistance, please contact Bunny Wonderland and we will try our best to help.
Keep your rabbits in a playpen and allow them to come out everyday to exercise.
Myth 3: Rabbits eat mainly carrots
Perhaps due to the way they are portrayed in cartoons, many people think that carrot should be a staple to rabbits.
They also feed rabbits colourful pellets thinking it is healthy and nutritious to them. I also made this mistake initially when the seller gave me colourful pellets as part of my bunny starter package. After being informed by some experts, we switched to non-coloured pellets immediately.
Both carrots and colourful pellets should not be fed constantly as doing so is very unhealthy. Can you imagine only feeding your child chocolate for breakfast lunch and dinner?
This is Bubbly who was one of the rabbits at Bunny Wonderland. When he was surrendered to them in July this year, he had awful teeth issues and bladder stones. All that was due to poor diet of no hay and colorful pellets.
Rabbits should get unlimited hay, pellets and servings of fresh green vegetables. Young rabbits under the age of 6 months should eat Alfafa Hay. Older rabbits can eat Timothy Hay or Oat Hay.
Myth 4: Rabbits don’t breed as much as hamsters
This is totally wrong. Rabbit’s strategy for survival is to keep reproducing. It is simply the way they have evolved over time. A female rabbit can get pregnant the moment she gives birth.
Very often, irresponsible pet owners don’t sterilize their rabbits and allow them to breed. They then give away the babies to their friends or sell it to people for profit. Very often, these new owners do not know much about rabbit care.
Either that, or they keep the whole family of rabbits in small cages where they have little space to move about.
This was what happened in July this year where Bunny Wonderland found 11 rabbits cramped in 2 cages: 3 females, 6 males and 2 babies. Their fur were covered in dirt and they looked lifeless. No hay was in sight and food were mixed with dirt. It was truly heartbreaking.
Overcrowding has also in some cases led to rabbits being stepped on, causing damage to their eyes. An example would be Trixie. Trixie was found squeezed at the bottom of a small cage with 9 other rabbits. She suffered from severe eye injury and her limb was fractured. She lost one eye and cannot hop anymore. =(
With the increasing rate of abandonment in Singapore, it is a proven fact that we have too many rabbits and too few responsible owners. Bunny Wonderland hope more rabbit owners will sterilize their rabbit to stop the over population.
Even if you don’t intend to breed your rabbits and both are females or males, please sterilize them. Rabbits have very active reproductive systems and without sterilization, they are likely to get ovary cancer, usually after the age of 4 years old.
Myth 5: Rabbit low maintenance and don’t need companionship
This is wrong. Despite the fact that they do not really talk, rabbits are social animals who live in groups in the wild. Unless you are ready to devote lots of time to your pet, please have two or more.
This is one case of negligence where the owner assumed the rabbit could be left alone.
In June this year, Bunny Wonderland was informed about a potential negligence case in Toa Payoh.
The rabbit was found to have heavily matted fur and his bottoms was covered with sore hocks (which forms when rabbits are kept in cages with wire flooring)
He had ulceration on his lips and his teeth were in bad shape. There were no water and the pellets were moldy.
They learned that the rabbit was adopted by the owner’s son who started working long hours and was unable to give attentive care for the rabbit.
Bunny Wonderland brought the rabbits to the vet who found sharp spurs poking into his tougue causing painful ulcers. She found bladder stones as well as skin irritation caused by urine burn. He had shortness of breath (likely due to heat stroke) and was placed in oxygen tank.
Not all rabbits are as lucky as this one to be found by Bunny Wonderland. Please don’t neglect your rabbits, educate yourself about diseases they get and constantly look out for signs.
These rabbits will end up going through a slow painful death. If you truly want an animal, please be responsible and keep them healthy. If they are sick, bring them to a good vet. I can’t help wonder what was their owner thinking.. It’s amazing how cruel this world can be.
Rabbits are innocent animals and if you decide to keep them as pets, make their life a fulfilling and happy one.
Animal abuse is not only socially unacceptable but it also reflects a lack of respect for life itself. If you’re interested to help bunnies in Singapore, here is what you can do to help.
1. Donate to HRSS or Bunny Wonderland to help them
Bunny Wonderland has an operating cost of $8000 per month ($2000 on food and $6000 on medical bills). If you want to make a difference to the lives of these rabbits, please donate some money.
2. Adopt and not buy
Before you adopt a bunny, be sure to read every single thing you can about rabbits. Equipping yourself with knowledge is the basic fundamental of being a responsible and good pet owner. This is a great resource put together by HRSS which teaches you everything you need to know.
3. Don’t eat rabbits or buy rabbit fur products
Farm rabbits are treated much much much worse than rabbits in Singapore. The rabbits raised for meat at these restaurants spend their lives in tiny cages, live short, unstimulating lives, and simply get culled when they get sick.
They never get to run free, hop in the grass, stretch out in the sun, dig a hole, chew up a phonebook, do binkies on a fluffy bedspread, have their ears groomed by another bunny, or grow old. They’re born, they spend some time in a cage, and then they die. That’s it.
4. Share this blog post to educate all your friends about the nature of rabbits
By spreading the word and informing them about what good rabbit care should be like, you are preventing another rabbit from being abused intentionally or unknowingly.
Hope this post has helped you gain a better understanding of the state of rabbit abuse in Singapore. If you have any questions about bunnies, do leave your queries in the comments below and I’d be glad to help.