Be Prepared for The Costs
Sarah was eight years old when she persuaded her parents that she was ready for her own pet rabbit. They agreed to go ahead, but after the visit to the pet shop, they were surprised to find that they had spent nearly €200. Not only was there the rabbit, but there was also the hutch, water bottle, food bowls, toys and the first month’s supply of food.
As they left the shop, Mr Quinn was quietly thinking to himself that he should have checked out beforehand about the cost of all the extra rabbit-keeping paraphernalia. He had only been thinking of the €25 to buy the rabbit in the first place. He was also reflecting on something else that the shop assistant had mentioned: they really ought to visit the vet to have Fluffy vaccinated. He was delighted that Sarah was so happy with her new pet, but he just wished that he had looked into all the different costs. I met the Quinn family a week later when they brought Fluffy for vaccinations against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases. These viral infections are common in Ireland, and vaccination is important to prevent them. By this time, Fluffy had settled in well. Her cage fitted neatly into the utility room, and Sarah had become a dedicated rabbit owner, feeding Fluffy twice daily, and spending time petting her and playing with her. As I gave Fluffy her injection, I explained that the Quinns ought to have her spayed in a few months’ time. Female rabbits can often become aggressive as they grow older and their hormones become active.
Spaying is the best way to make sure that they remained calm, friendly pets. In addition, three out of four unspayed female rabbits develop uterine cancer by six years of age if they are not spayed. The Quinns agreed that it was important to go through with the operation, but when I spoke to Mr Quinn about the cost, he told me that this was something else that had not been on the initial budget. The spaying operation is a major procedure, with full-scale general anaesthesia, sterile surgery and carefully planned pain relief. It is not a two-minute task, and of course, there are high costs attached to it. As the months went by, Sarah remained as attentive to Fluffy as ever, and the rest of the Quinn family gradually bonded with their new pet. She was allowed to hop around the family home, and she became litter trained in the same way as a cat. She was soon old enough to be spayed, and I met the Quinns back in my clinic. The operation went well, and a week later, when Fluffy came in for a final wound check, she had returned completely to normal. It was at this visit that Mr Quinn took me to one side – he said he wanted to talk briefly about three things. Firstly, he told me that he thought pet-keeping was the best thing ever for children. He told me how Sarah had come out of herself socially since Fluffy had come into her life. She loved showing other children her new pet, and she had become more confident and talkative. Secondly, he explained how he had been given a financial shock by the costs of keeping a rabbit. He was fine now, but he asked me to send out a message to folk whenever I could: do up a full budget before leaping into pet ownership. And thirdly, did I not agree? Wasn’t Fluffy just the cutest rabbit ever?
- Rabbits can make great house pets, living in the home like a dog or cat
- The costs of rabbit keeping can be surprisingly expensive
- Spaying, neutering and vaccinations are essential