No doubt about it, rabbits are freakin’ adorable! Who can resist that fluffy bundle of cute overload? Unfortunately, not a lot of people, especially around Easter.
Bunnies are bred for the Easter holiday, and many are sold to families who are unprepared for such a responsibility. This results in the increase of neglect, death, and surrender of rabbits to shelters where most will be killed (euthanized). I suppose being cute and wanted has it’s disadvantages after all.
So before you go running out to your local pet store to buy little Brady a bunny of his own (that you’re gonna be responsible for anyway), take a few moments to read the following suggestions:
1. Sponsor a bunny: Many rabbit rescue organizations offer the option to “sponsor” a bunny to help with the cost of care until they find their forever homes. Most gladly accept donations as well. In either case, this a great alternative that offers the opportunity to teach children about the importance of charity and compassion.
2. Chocolate!: What child is gonna turn down a chocolate bunny for Easter? As a kid I remember this being what I looked forward to on this holiday! Luckily there are vegan chocolate bunnies available at http://www.rescuechocolate.com/products/make-mine-chocolate-bunnies. Rescue Chocolate donates proceeds to various animal rescues around the US.
3. Do your research first: When you are thinking of buying a car, do you research various autos by year, make, model, and their miles per gallon? Of course! So why should a living creature deserve less? Rabbits are not low-maintenance and, like all animals, they have their own special set of behaviors, habits, and needs. A few examples of some of their needs are:
- Being social, rabbits need a great deal of interaction with their (guardians) and/or other rabbits to be happy.
- Daily playtime and exercise outside of their case are necessary.
- They are not low maintenance – it takes a good deal of work to properly care for a rabbit.
- Rabbit pellets alone are not a sufficient diet — they need lots of roughage in the form of good quality hay and a variety of fresh vegetables.
- They do need to chew, so lots of safe chew toys should be provided, and any spaces where the rabbit is allowed to run must be carefully rabbit-proofed.
- They need a relatively large cage. They are also better off indoors, where they can be more social with their family and also are also safe from predators (even in the city) and extreme weather.
- While they are generally quiet pets, rabbits are not a good match for active young children who may not be careful enough when picking them up or playing around them.
- Rabbits like to be near their people, but they often would rather not be held (which can be disappointing, especially for kids)
- They require some veterinary care, which can be expensive. They should be spayed or neutered (by a vet experienced with surgery on rabbits) and they may require vaccinations depending on where you live (e.g. in the U.K.; see Rabbit Vaccinations from RabbitRehome.org.uk for more on vaccines).
- Rabbit urine can have a strong odor so expect to change their litter box frequently (rabbits usually take quite well to litter box training though, spaying and neutering should help reduce the odor).
- For a more complete resource of rabbit behavior and needs visit: http://www.rabbit.org/index.html
4. Up for the task?: Then adoption is the best option. Petfinder.com is a great place to find a companion animal that is a good match for you and your family. There is usually some background information on the temperament and special needs of most adoptees. As with all companion animals, the more you know, the better the success rate, so many agencies adopting out bunnies will provide services to help increase your awareness of bunny care.
5. Pass it on!: Sharing is caring, so sharing this (or any) information on the dangers of buying bunnies for Easter is greatly appreciated.
I think it’s important to note that no animal is a present. Adding a furry, scaly, or feathered member to your family is a big responsibility that requires research, and a honest look at what you’re capable of giving (time, money, energy, love, etc.). If you realize that you are unable to provide a forever home but would like to providing support and love to animals in need of a forever home, sponsor one from a responsible rescue organization, volunteer your time at one, or inquire about being a foster guardian.