Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Tusayiwe Sikwese
A few months into my service, I started feeling a bit lonely and I wanted a puppy. So I thought, “Hey, I will ask some of the community members to help me find one.” One of the community members eventually offered to help and I got very excited. In my head I was going to take care of this puppy so well, probably suffocate it with love and she would be lots of fun, (I don’t know what gave me that impression). I waited for the puppy to come. Days turned into weeks, weeks into another month but she was nowhere to be seen. I kept asking about her but I eventually got tired of asking and just decided to wait.
In the process of waiting, I started thinking about just how bad I am at feeding dogs and other things that involve taking care of dogs. I realized that the puppy was probably going to starve to death, considering the fact that I was going to keep her locked up so she doesn’t run away. But I didn’t want that.
Luckily, I think, I saw rabbits! They were so cute. I just had to have one of my own. I went back to the house I saw the rabbits at and asked if I could buy one. The owner thought I wanted to buy one for food, I was shocked. It might come as a shock to some, but I didn’t know that people eat rabbits until that day. So I told her I just wanted one to keep as a pet. She was shocked too at that. She couldn’t believe that people could just keep rabbits for the sake of it. It didn’t make sense to her. This is because a few people in my community raise rabbits and use them as a source of income. It is not that common but it is a business that is slowly blooming.
Anyway, she agreed to sell the one rabbit I wanted but I ended up buying two. But before she did, she asked me if I had a place for them to sleep, if I knew how to feed them and take care of them. I honestly hadn’t thought of any of that. All I thought of was how cute they were and how it would be fun to hold them and play with them. And of course, the names I was going to give them. None of the other things had crossed my mind. I was under the assumption that rabbits were easy to take care of. When I got my rabbits, I put them in box on the first day and let them out the next day. They ran away on the second day. I panicked, (my fear was that they would be eaten by dogs roaming around the community) and so had my neighbors help me with finding them. We found them and I decided to lock them in a spacious room from that day onwards. Feeding them wasn’t easy. I would forget to give them food most of the times. I had to be reminded by my friends here. After a few months I started letting them out again, so they could feed themselves seeing as they were way better at it than I was. I figured they had now gotten used to their new home and would find their way back. Although I have learnt quite a lot on how to take care of rabbits, what kind of locally available plants they eat and things like that, I think I should have just gone for the puppy instead. Rabbits are just as difficult to take care of as any other animals but it takes a lot more commitment to take care of them, especially in a community like mine where they are exposed to a lot of danger like dogs.
As I am writing this, one of my two rabbits is missing. I was hoping that it’s just the usual stunt that she has been pulling off lately or maybe that she’s about to have her young ones (I haven’t seen her in month) but I am beginning to think she’s been eaten by dogs. I am still hoping that she will come back though.
Here’s a quick guide to raising rabbits (based on what I have learned)
*Have a good pen before you get your stock of rabbits
*Make sure the pen is spacious enough for your intended stock(the need space to run around)
*Use wire for external walls but wood for internal walls( demarcation is for when the female rabbit wants to breed and rear its young)
*Put dirt (if the pen is made in a cemented area or a cage) in the pen, it helps with urine absorption and makes it easy to clean
Your pen is ready for your stock
*Feed them plenty of food (they like to eat) and don’t forget to give them plenty of clean water too! (I always forgot)
Oh, they’re still so cute!!
Happy rabbit raising!