Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter bunny or not to bunny this Easter...?

A rescue rabbit, waiting to be adopted.

Today we stopped at our local feed store to look at pet food. We were greeted by the resident duck and overwhealmed by the number of chicks, ducklings, and baby rabbits being sold.

The feed store visit got me wondering... are baby animals really a good Easter addition?

Millions of rabbits (and ducks and chicks) are sold every year during the month of April. Right now, pet stores and feed stores all over the country are preparing by stocking up on baby bunnies for expectant children yet again.

But do bunnies make a good gift?

Cute as a bunny
Baby animals are  adorable, especially furry bunnies with their long ears and twitching noses. And while rabbits can make wonderful pets when spayed and neutered, there are a number of cautions and drawbacks to rabbit ownership.

Rabbit rescues often receive a wave of unwanted rabbits following the Easter holiday. According to The Bunny Rescue of Nashville, "Contrary to Eastertime hype, rabbits and small children aren't a good match. The exuberance of even the gentlest toddler is stressful for the sensitive rabbit. Children like a companion they can hold, and cuddle. That's why stuffed animals are so popular."

Children quickly lose interest in their pet rabbit when the bunny is reluctant to be held and cuddled like a toy. But being picked up is frightening and often uncomfortable to the bunny. Some rabbits end up neglected and forgotten.

Many new owners also don't realize what happens when rabbits mature. Rescuers warn that "If left un-neutered they will chew, spray or dig." Some even become territorial of their cage and will lunge and bite.
Rabbits are certainly not for everyone, so before buying a bunny ask yourself the following questions:

Rabbits are not "low-maintenance" pets. Are you ready to be the main caretaker? (cage cleaning, providing fresh water/hay/pellets/veggies daily, vet visits, exercise out of the cage, etc?)

Are you prepared for a pet that will live 10-15 years?

Rabbits must be neutered or they will mark your house with feces and urine. Are you prepared for this cost? Do you know a rabbit-savvy vet?

Rabbits should live indoors (for many safety reasons), as members of the family. Do you have room for a large cage and space for them to roam?

If after carful consideration you still believe rabbit ownership is the right decision for your family, please think adoption first. Some rescues will make families wait until after Easter to adopt, but there are too many unwanted rabbits waiting to find a new family.

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