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Pregnancy & Rabbits
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Pregnancy & Rabbits
by Jinny Tan

After the excitement of informing our friends and relatives of our pregnancy, suddenly, these well-wishers (regardless of whether they have their own children or not) became pregnancy and childcare gurus and started giving me advice on the dos and don’ts during pregnancy.

Like many first time mums-to-be, I already had a lot of things to worry about, for example the health of the unborn baby, the ever expanding waistline and the impending responsibility of taking care of the baby.

I also now had the headache of sieving through those dos and don’ts which I heard from various people. Having been educated in the science stream all my life, it was easy for me to dismiss the more illogical advice given by some – for example, I was supposed to refrain from eating dark soya sauce otherwise the baby would have dark skin.

However, there were some advice which bordered on fact and myth, which were a little more difficult to discern. One of which was “Get rid of your rabbits! The fur is bad for the unborn baby and also bad when the baby is born!”

As both my hubby and I were disturbed by the possibility of giving up our two bunnies, I was determined to find out if bunnies were indeed harmful to the foetus. I surfed the internet and read various books and magazines, hoping to find something.

The only information I found was that cat faeces (which can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis) can pose a danger to the developing baby.

I found some consolation at the lack of information regarding the alleged harm bunnies could do to the unborn babies, and convinced myself and my hubby that it was not necessary to give up our precious bunnies. Even the gynaecologist said she was not aware of rabbits being harmful.

Although we faced pressure from our parents to give them up, we were both very stubborn and did not do so. We had in December 2002 lost two rabbits, and the thought of giving away our remaining two rabbits was something we could not and would not accept.

However, we did make a small adjustment to the bunnies’ living area. Initially, their cage was in our bedroom. In order to silence those who still maintain that the bunnies’ fur is harmful, we decided to move their cage to the living area, away from our bedroom.

Prior to my pregnancy, I was more involved in cleaning their litter pan, feeding and caring for them.

During the first trimester, I was always feeling tired. No matter how much sleep I got, I still found it very difficult to wake up in the morning when the alarm rang. My hubby, in order to allow me more time to sleep, would wake up earlier just to feed the bunnies, add water to their water bottles, and also to clean their cage.

As the pregnancy progressed, my tummy grew bigger and bigger. It became increasingly difficult for me to bend down to reach into their cage. I either had to squat or sit on the floor in order to feed them, or even pat them. However, squatting down was difficult as my increased weight added a lot of pressure on my ankles. And whenever I sat on the floor, it was difficult for me to stand up afterwards.

Having a big tummy made mobility very restricted and every single task that seemed to be so easy before pregnancy, became a chore.

However, my hubby became more involved with the bunnies as my pregnancy progressed. He realized that it was difficult for me to do the things that I used to do, and he would often volunteer to help out with the bunnies.

I was really fortunate that my hubby was really supportive throughout my pregnancy, and helped me out in whatever he could.

I was also glad that our bunnies were both litter-trained and therefore cleaning their cages was not a difficult or time-consuming chore.

Moreover, both our bunnies had been neutered and they bonded very well. Thus, even if we had “neglected” them in anyway, I am sure they were not lonely and found solace in each other’s company. They were like husband and wife, often lying down together side by side, grooming and licking each other.

The only thing which my hubby could not help me out in was grooming our bunnies. One of our bunnies, Tare, never liked being carried, and my hubby was never successful in carrying her, let alone being able to groom her.

Then one day when the sight of their ever-growing nails and unruly fur started to irritate me, I decided to groom them on my own accord. Picking them up from their cages was difficult with my big bump. Moreover, Tare was so feisty that she started to struggle as I picked her up. She did scratch me quite a bit on my arms and my tummy. Even our unborn son started getting feisty in my tummy and kicked me very hard at the same time. However, once I cradled Tare in my arms, she was docile as a lamb. Perhaps she felt comforted as she rested on top of my tummy.

Our other bunny, Tira (whom we have always nicknamed as being “humsup” i.e. lecherous) lived up to the nickname which we had given him. As I cradled him in my arms, his face turned towards my chest and his tongue started to lick my blouse as I groomed him. Carrying him, I wondered to myself whether it would be the same feeling as carrying our son in my arms.

Just before the expected due date of delivery, I stocked up the bunnies’ supplies at home. We ordered bags of hay, pellets, and litter, enough to last at least 1 month. It was good that our supplier was able to deliver the bunny supplies to our home, as I surely could not carry that entire load from the pet shop!

Throughout my pregnancy, I never got ill. In fact, I was in better health than ever before. After 39 weeks of carrying my baby inside my tummy, I finally gave birth to a very healthy baby boy. I was even more convinced that having bunnies in the house did not affect my baby’s and my health.

After giving birth, I was in the hospital for 4 days. During those 4 days, my hubby stayed with me at the hospital. However, he would go home twice a day – once in the morning and another in the evening, just to take care of the rabbits.

Our relatives and friends were amused by our devotion towards our bunnies, and were surprised at my hubby’s dedication for making two trips to home each day just for the bunnies.

Even with my hubby’s 2 trips home each day, our bunnies sensed that there was something different from the usual routine. Perhaps they missed me? Or perhaps the house was really too quiet since we were not home? They ate very little, and drank very little water in our absence. They even started peeing outside their litter pan.

However, this “rebellious” behaviour stopped soon after I was discharged from the hospital and was back home.

Our bunnies are like our babies. In fact, sometimes, I think having bunnies prepared us for parenthood. Our bunnies have helped us experience the joys and worries of taking care of them, understand the concept of responsibility, learn how to share tasks in taking care of them, and how to love them unconditionally.

We are very glad that we were stubborn enough to continue keeping our bunnies. Our son is now almost two months old when this article is written. He is a chubby little boy who has put on a whopping 1.5kg in his first month! My only wish now is to see him grow up quickly so that he too can spend time with our bunnies and learn to love them as much as we do.

 

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