On this blog, we’ve mentioned that rabbits have rich, unique personalities. They can show love, affection, and kindness and are often renowned for their smarts. That has you wondering, are rabbits a good choice as an emotional support animal?
Indeed, rabbits make an exemplary emotional support animal. Here are some reasons we might consider this four-legged friend for your own support or that of a loved one:
- Big personalities and adorable looks
- Widely available for adoption
- You don’t need to take them outside for them to do their business
- The lifespan of at least a decade
- Easy training if you put the time and effort into it
- Natural cleanliness, so no need for frequent baths
- Little if any noise
- Very loving towards their owners
If you’re in need of an emotional support animal, we gently encourage you to continue reading. In this article, we’ll explore the history of emotional support animals as well as touch on the laws of owning one. Finally, we’ll delve deeper into the reasons mentioned above on why a rabbit makes a great support animal.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal and Why Are They Needed?
Sometimes called support animals or assistance animals, emotional support animals aide those with severe emotional disorders and/or mental health issues. These people may have panic attacks, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder. These conditions get in the way of the person’s life, preventing them from engaging in the types of activities they’d prefer to do.
By giving someone like this an emotional support animal, they get comfort and support. While most emotional support animals are dogs, that’s not always the case. Some people prefer cats and yes, even rabbits to fulfill this role.
It’s important to mention that an emotional support animal isn’t the same as a service animal. The latter go through special training that allow them to aide in certain tasks. The most common example is a service dog assisting a blind person in navigation, but service animals can do so much more.
Emotional support animals rarely go through specialized training before they get introduced to their new owner. Their purpose is more to give love, reserve judgment, and provide companionship.
Laws and Requirements for Support Animals
To receive an emotional support animal, a medical or psychological professional will recommend it first.
Many animals can help with emotional support, but they’re not always recognized for it. If you prefer, you can get your emotional support animal registered. They may have to wear a vest and you should carry an identification card wherever you go.
If you want to travel and bring your emotional support animal, you must register them first. Otherwise, they cannot join you in the cabin of the plane. This official law, the Air Carrier Access Act or ACAA, requires documentation on emotional support animals before declaring whether they can fly with you. You should check in with your airline as early as possible to get the confirmation you need before your flight. This way, you’ll know you can bring your emotional support animal.
If you live in a home or apartment that has a no-pets policy, an emotional support animal is often excluded. This law, the Fair Housing Act, states that building managers, owners, or landlords should allow your emotional support animal to a certain extent. For instance, you must have the documentation to prove you need such an animal to be granted these rights. Also, a landlord or building manager can turn down bigger animals.
13 Reasons to Consider a Rabbit as an Emotional Support Animal
Now that you know more about support animals, if you’re in need of one, you might get a rabbit. Here’s 13 reasons to convince you.
1. Few Issues with Traveling or Housing
As we just talked about in the prior section, bigger emotional support animals can sometimes cause issues. You may have to pay extra to bring a large dog or other support animal on a plane. In some cases, the airline could move your seat. Depending on the animal you use for support, an airline can deny flight access altogether. This typically only occurs if you have a truly large animal like a horse.
With rabbits, there’s no such size concerns to stress over. Rabbits aren’t very big, even when they’re fully-grown. That means they should get granted the necessary permissions to fly with you.
When it comes to lodging, rabbits won’t cause any trouble there, either. Their small stature should incur no extra housing fees.
2. A Big, Winning Personality
When it comes to pets with personality, most people think of cats or dogs only. Those who have read this blog know different. Rabbits can show just as much if not more personality than these common pets.
A bunny’s anything but boring to have in your life. While each rabbit has different personality traits, yours can act as a friendly companion when you need a mood boost. You can spend hours watching them romp around their cage, play with toys, or even doze and take a little bunny nap. They fill any heart with joy.
3. They’re Utterly Adorable
Admittedly, a pet’s looks don’t determine whether it will make a good support animal. That said, considering you’ll spend every day with this animal, they should have an agreeable, affable look you like.
If that’s what you’re looking for, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with a rabbit. Everything about them screams adorable. There’s their fluffy bunny face, complete with their shining eyes, precious button nose, and long whiskers. Although you shouldn’t touch them much, you can appreciate watching a rabbit’s ears and how they use them.
Bunnies also have big, fluffy bodies, little paws (except their rear legs, as those feet are much longer), and a fuzzy tail. Add that to their smaller size and you can pick up and carry a bunny anywhere and everywhere. Just know that some bunnies require training to get used to handling, as it’s not always their favorite thing in the world.
4. You Can Get a Bunny Just about Anywhere
If you’re looking for a rabbit to adopt as an emotional support animal, you have plenty of options. You can check a local shelter or even ask an animal expert to point you in the right direction. Also, you can do some research into rabbit breeders in your area.
5. You Don’t Need to Take Them Outside to Do Their Business
While many people prefer dogs as a support animal, there’s one downside to dog ownership: they have to go outside often. Considering that those who own support animals often suffer from serious mental health conditions, sometimes it’s hard to get out and take a dog for their regular trips to the bathroom.
With a rabbit, there’s no need for this. You only have to provide a bit of litter and the bunny will make waste there. It’s important to clean the litter often, but you don’t have to go outside to do this. That already makes owning a rabbit as a support animal a better choice.
6. Rabbits Live for a Long Time
Given the important role of emotional support animals, saying goodbye to one prematurely would cause a lot of undue heartbreak. Rabbits aren’t like most small pets that live for maybe three years tops. They have a lifespan akin to most dog breeds.
On average, you can expect to have your rabbit with you for at least 10 years. Some go even longer, sticking around for 12 years. While cats have a longer lifespan than dogs and rabbits, spending more than a decade of support with your rabbit means you have plenty of time to foster an amazing bond.
7. They Train Easily
With dogs, you can spend weeks upon weeks of regular, strenuous training for them to learn tasks like sit down and roll over. Cats don’t train with much ease due to their independent personalities (of course, this all depends on your individual cat, as personalities vary).
What about rabbits? They train exceptionally well. You or someone else will have to spend the time with the rabbit, repeating tasks. Rabbits need rewards in the form of food to incentivize them to repeat their good behavior.
You can train a rabbit to do just about anything, like pee in their litter box, sit, or lie down. The next time your bunny exhibits unfavorable behavior, remember you can probably modify it with a bit of training.
8. They Keep Themselves Clean
While it’s always fun to see a dog shake off all that water after a bath, cleaning one can take a lot of time and effort. Those with certain mental health afflictions might not have the inclination to bathe a dog regularly. If that’s the case, then a rabbit makes for a great alternative in the support animal search.
Rabbits are sort of like cats in that they take care of most of their basic grooming and cleanliness themselves. In fact, you should never wash a rabbit the way you do most pets. They could go into shock and die if they get submerged in water. Little spot-cleaning baths with a soft, wet cloth can remove stubborn stains around the rabbit’s rear. Otherwise, they’ll take care of the rest of it themselves.
9. You Don’t Need a Huge Residence for a Rabbit
Housing an emotional support animal takes careful consideration. While you can often bring one of these animals into lodging arrangements even when other pets are excluded, you may worry about space. For a dog especially, a lack of space becomes a problem fast. Canines need to get exercise and must have room to stretch their legs. If you don’t have a big residence, then quarters can feel cramped.
You only need a bit of space for a rabbit enclosure. Whether you live in a house or an apartment, you should have the room for a rabbit. While they like bigger cages so they can roam and play, a rabbit will settle for a smaller space if need be. Just make sure it’s not too constricting.
10. They Don’t Make Lots of Noise
Speaking of apartment life, your residence probably has strict rules about noise. No one wants a tenant with a loud, barking dog that doesn’t stop all day and night. By choosing a rabbit as an emotional support animal, you can prevent anymore noise complaints from the neighbors.
Rabbits aren’t mute, but they definitely don’t bark. They might squeak a little, but it’s not loud. That means you can maintain an affable relationship with other nearby residents.
11. They Show a Lot of Love
When it comes to affectionate animals, you might not think of a rabbit right away. That’s probably due to inexperience since bunnies love very big. They have huge hearts and will show happiness and affection in many ways. You could get little licks or kisses. They also gently nip and nuzzle.
Rabbits are handheld pets. While we said before that not every bunny likes handling, you can train them to get more used to it. With some time and hard work, you could get your rabbit comfortable to a point where you can sit down with them in your lap.
12. They’ll Become Your Best Friend
Rabbits, like many other pets, choose their person. When you come home from a day out, your bunny will look overjoyed to see you. They’ll love getting pets, nuzzles, strokes, and kisses from you. When you venture over to their cage, they’ll perk up and crave your attention.
Having a bond with your emotional support animal is paramount in making the experience as rewarding as possible. That bond becomes possible with a rabbit. It may take some getting used to and a bit of training, but the two of you can build a mutually fulfilling relationship.
13. They Know What Anxiety Feels Like
You can often feel alone if you suffer from anxiety. It seems like the whole world is going on just fine without any issues or cares while you deal with your experiences alone. When you have a rabbit around, you’re never alone.
Rabbits act as prey for a whole host of bigger, scarier animals. That’s why bunnies have learned to create burrows underground and only go foraging when there’s minimal light. They get spooked by loud noises and can experience sheer panic and fear much like you can. That camaraderie can go a long way towards making you both feel better.
While most people have dogs or cats as emotional support animals, rabbits are another great option. They know what anxiety feels like. Rabbits can also bond closely and love big, creating a fulfilling relationship. They don’t require a ton of difficult care, they won’t make much noise, and they’re trainable, too.
If you’re considering an emotional support animal, we ask you to think of getting a rabbit for this purpose.