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My Pet World: Five questions to ask before adopting a rabbit

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

The description on the website reads: "Alana and Andrina are a bonded pair. They must be adopted together. They are somewhat shy ... and are very sweet and playful. They are litter trained (excellent litter box habits) and neutered. Prefer experienced adopter. Indoor housing only."

While this sounds like a description for two cats or kittens, this is actually an online description for two rabbits at the House Rabbit Society of Chicago, a rabbit rescue group.

This time of year, close to Easter, pet stores often have young rabbits for sale. Their cute, and therefore, difficult to resist, which is why there are rabbit rescue groups all over the country. As the third most popular pet in the nation, they are also the third most relinquished pet too.

While house rabbits make great pets, they aren't the right pet for every family. Here are five questions to ask before getting a rabbit.

Do you have children? Children can be loud and rambunctious. Rabbits need quiet, low-stress homes to thrive.

Do you have other pets? As a prey species, rabbits are often scared of dogs and cats. Some cats and rabbits, however, can live peaceably together; some cats are scared of some rabbits.

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Are you ready for the commitment? House rabbits can live 8 to 10 years, about the age of a very large breed dog. (They sexually mature at six months old and become aggressive if not sterilized.)

Do you have time to play with your rabbit? You don't have to walk them, but rabbits need lots of supervised playtime outside of their cages every day to maintain their mental and physical health.

Do you have time to train your bunny? You can "clicker train" your rabbit to use the litter box, like a cat, sit and wait, like a dog, and touch a target like a bell, like a bird. Rabbits are very smart animals, and love learning with you. I believe if you train your pet, you will keep your pet. Visit the House Rabbit Society at Rabbit.org or get the book "Getting Started: Clicking with Your Rabbit," by Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin to learn more.

If it sounds like your home is well-suited for a rabbit, then consider adopting from a rescue group. Great rabbits, like Alana and Andrina, are waiting for good homes.

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