The holiday season is about to start and many of us will want to put up a Christmas tree and other decorations. When a curious little bunny hops around and feels like everything was put up as a giant snack, there are a few things to consider.
First of all, rabbits can eat from all natural pine and fir trees in small amounts. They generally are not harmful. BUT (and here comes the important part) most Christmas trees available at stores and markets around this time are treated with pesticides and other chemicals (to prevent fires, repel insects, etc.) and/or sprayed with pine scent to re-create the yummy smell. Those are NOT okay for rabbits to eat. They are made to look pretty and last a long time, not for anyone’s consumption. If you are getting your tree out of grandma’s backyard, directly out of a wild forest, or from a reliable source that does not use chemicals, you are good. Otherwise, better keep the rabbit under strict supervision, keep it out of the room completely, or place the tree out of reach (build a play-pen fence around it, for example). Another option is to get a smaller tree and place it on a side table or other elevated surface too high for those bunnies to hop on. And just because the question came up, chemicals will NOT disappear by leaving the tree outside in the rain.
Also make sure all ornaments are safely out of reach and do not have parts that may fall down and get chewed on. Better pass on the tinsel altogether. It easily falls from the tree and can cause indigestion and even death when swallowed.
Most Christmas trees will ultimately have candles or electrical lights attached. For their safety and yours, it is best to keep rabbits out of the room when using real candles. Electrical lights are fine as long as you keep the cables out of reach. Small bits of PVC pipe from home improvement stores can serve as a great way to protect cables. They are really cheap, too. Or just wrap the lights around the tree in such a way that they remain towards the top.
As if this wasn’t enough, there are even more death traps around during the holiday season. Be careful when it comes to other seasonal plants that may enter your house. Mistletoe, ivy, and hollies are toxic. So is potpourri (yes, some rabbits will eat that). Keep other plants such as poinsettias away as well. Be aware that those plants don’t even have to be real. Fake plants and decorations look and smell really yummy to a rabbit, Bunny included. It’s best to put them out of reach, because they are just as bad as the tinsel.
Of course we don’t want to run around the house, carefully watching our rabbits, and shouting “no” every 2 minutes. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative entertainments out there. A simple piece of wrapping paper, newspaper, or tissue paper is great fun and can be torn apart. And if your rabbit insists on chewing, why not go for a walk and bring him a piece of all natural apple, pine, or hazelnut tree?
One last possible danger that should be mentioned: Visitors. Rabbits will not understand why the house is suddenly full of screaming children and children and adults may not be educated in how to treat a rabbit. We personally know someones who accidentally killed a small rabbit as a child by picking it up wrong and since they like to hop between unsuspecting feet, they could easily get stepped on. Let’s not have that happen. Better keep the rabbit in a quiet room while people are around or warn them previously.
Now that this depressing post is out of the way, have a wonderful and happy holiday season! We already have Bunny’s gift picked out!