1. If you acquire a rabbit, be prepared to give it as much time and care as you would a dog or cat.
2. Rabbits, if spayed or neutered, have a lifespan of seven to ten years. Spaying and neutering are simple operations that tend to reduce or prevent territorial behavior, spraying by males, moodiness, aggressiveness, digging and chewing. They can also improve litter box habits.
3. Brush your rabbit regularly to avoid fur balls, which they may swallow but cannot regurgitate.
4. To keep their teeth healthy, rabbits need hard items to chew on. Bunny-proof your home to protect wires and furniture, and provide the rabbit with plenty of chewable items.
5. Rabbits are afraid of predators, and they can literally be scared to death. So when you pick up a rabbit, hold it securely so it feels safe. The reason many people, especially children, get scratched by rabbits is that they don't hold them properly.
6. Rabbits should generally be kept indoors and supervised while outdoors because the outside world is a dangerous place for them. If given the opportunity, they may dig up your yard and eat the flowers and plants.
7. Rabbits, by nature, are clean and neat. They can also be affectionate and social, intelligent and sensitive, playful, curious and mischievous. Many rabbits get along with cats and dogs, but the animals involved need to be trained, and you should closely supervise early interactions between rabbits and other pets.
8. Be sure to find a veterinarian who is trained in rabbit care, as rabbits are considered exotic pets.
Learn more on the Rabbits message board.
About the book: Smudge Bunny is the story of Smudge, Dr. Bernie Siegel's beloved pet rabbit, and her journey to reach her home and family. In recounting her tale, Smudge comes to realize that sometimes the paths in life that look like detours are really just different ways to get to where we were meant to be all along. After enduring heartache and loss, Smudge ultimately finds happiness, hope and the discovery of her true home.
Reprinted from Smudge Bunny by Dr. Bernie Siegel © 2004. Permission granted by New World Library.
About the author: Dr. Bernie Siegel was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Colgate University and Cornell University Medical College, where he graduated with honors. In 1989 he retired from the practice of general and pediatric surgery to travel around the world, speaking to patients and their caregivers.
In 2003, he released a new book, Help Me to Heal, and in spring 2004 we will see the debut of Bernie's first children's book, Smudge Bunny, published by New World Library/HJ Kramer.
Dr. Siegel lives with his wife and their dog, Furphy, and bunny, Smudge, in Connecticut. The Siegels have five grown children and several wonderful grandchildren.