Rabbits have long been iconic in pop culture—from Peter Rabbit to Bugs Bunny—so it only makes sense that people would gravitate toward these plush pets with distinctive long ears and fluffy tails.
Yet, in spite of the exposure many people have to bunnies in popular culture, they often may not recognize the amount of care and attention these creatures need in order to thrive.
“The most common misconception is that rabbits are easy pets to take care of,” says Claire Hamblion, account manager for Supreme Petfoods. “They make wonderful companions but have very complex needs which can easily not be met if the owner is not aware of rabbit welfare. For example, bunnies are highly sociable creatures and should always be kept in pairs.”
Of course, customers across the board want to ensure their rabbits live happy and healthy lives, but first, they’ll need to acquire the rabbit essentials and understand their value.
“That while cute and cuddly, rabbits like other pets, require serious commitment from the entire pet parent family,” says John Gerstenberger, vice president of product development for Ware Pet Products.
Advice for Rabbit Care
Before anything else, customers need to have the right food that addresses a rabbit’s nutritional needs. Rabbit food with fiber content (which is often obtained from hay and grasses) is imperative for their overall health. It’s important that these creatures have daily fresh water, and that pet parents give a limited amount of treats.
Retailers also need to recognize that every rabbit is different, and may have its own special dietary needs, according to Hamblion.
“Rather than looking for specific components, it’s helpful to look for a balanced daily diet that has been developed to suit a rabbit’s age, health status and environment,” she says.
Dental care is another important component for a rabbit’s health, as their teeth never stop growing.
“In the wild, rabbit teeth are subject to a lot of wear and tear through near-constant foraging, so it’s really important to provide rabbits with lots of hay and grass as part of their diet,” says Hamblion. “Most rabbits munch through the equivalent of their body size in hay and grass every single day!”
After providing rabbits with the food they need, the next priority is a proper hutch or cage to fit a rabbit’s needs. Both Hamblion and Gerstenberger highlight the importance of providing space for rabbits within a containment product so they can dig, forage and play to their heart’s content.
Once customers grasp the importance of rabbit essentials, they’ll want to have an easy way to access everything they’ll need.
“You may have lots of products competing for attention, so make it easy for your customers by ordering products on your shelves into good, better, best (GBB) from left to right,” suggests Hamblion. “Clients can quickly scan the products and make a decision based on price and quality.”
Even for customers that don’t quite grasp what being a rabbit owner entails, Gerstenberger recommends that retailers inform customers about what goes into rabbit care before they can welcome one into their family. “It’s so important to understand the 360-degree care needs of any pet before adding them to the family.” PB