SAN DIEGO, April 11, 2017— Bunnies are easily trained to perform minor tricks, even to use a litter box. They make loving, quiet and adorable pets with a potential lifespan of 7, 10 or more years, making the lure of giving children an adorable live Easter bunny is easy to understand.
There is great potential for an Easter bunny to become a wonderful member of a loving family. All that said, however, parents must proceed with great caution when considering buying a live bunny for their son or daughter’s Easter basket.
As with most pets, the novelty of a new pet declines once the work begins. While they seem placid and easy-going, rabbits can be difficult and expensive to properly care for, and, just as kittens become cats, that baby bunny soon becomes an ever-growing adult.
The naturally timid nature of a domesticated bunny can also be problematic for children who might not be patient in letting their cottontails adapt to their new home. Remember, rabbits can’t yelp, bark or meow when distressed.
Children and adults alike might not be aware that it is best to limit picking the bunny up, as they generally do not like being handled, tending to scramble out of fear, trying to quickly get loose in a “flight to safety” response that could result in a child being scratched or bitten. When that happens, the bunny can be easily injured in the scramble, possibly breaking its spine in a worse-case scenario.
Clearly, it is best to take a slow, careful approach while engaging with a new bunny, always beginning with a calm demeanor and petting it first, slowly developing a trusting and meaningful family relationship. That can take time. And patience.
The good news is that bunnies love to be petted and in time Fluffy Long Ears may soon hop into your lap for affection.
Sadly, though, horrific Easter bunny stories abound across the United States every year. According to the San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control Program document, “Easter Pets”:
“The San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control Program would like to ask the public’s help this Easter by reminding residents to please not give pets as presents. Too often, fluffy baby bunnies, fuzzy chicks, and cute little ducklings are bought and given as Easter pets with no thought of the responsibility of caring for them. Most of these animals suffer and die within a week or two due to improper care and handling. Those who do live are usually soon unwanted as they grow larger, wilder, noisier, and messier.”
Unfortunately, rabbits are also the third most euthanized animals in the United States’ animal shelters following dogs and cats, according to petMD.com.
The ASPCA notes that rabbits can live, if properly cared for, from 7 to 10 years and require as much long-term care and expense as a dog or cat. However, unlike the average dog or cat, rabbits have very specific dietary and veterinary needs. They require a lot of care.
Living quarters for an Easter bunny need to be indoors and approximately 4-by-4 feet in size for a small to medium-sized animals. The rabbit pen needs to be large enough to accommodate a rabbit pellet food bowl, clean water bowl and salt lick. The living space for the bunny also needs to be cleaned regularly.
Depending upon its location and prevailing temperatures in your area, a well-built outdoor rabbit hatch, preferably situated off the ground on legs, can also be a viable option for an Easter bunny residence. A suitable outdoor rabbit hatch must have a secure, waterproof roof and partial siding to protect the animal from the elements. It must also protect your rabbit from predators or other “scares” that could literally frighten them to death.
Keep in mind that extreme temperatures will likely be devastating to a vulnerable Easter bunny and lead to its inevitable death, so be sure you have a backup plan.
But remember: rabbits are sociable animals. You can’t just put Peter Rabbit in the hutch outside and forget about him. He needs to be allowed out and have opportunities to interact with his family as much as Rover does.
Some Easter bunnies are allowed to roam the family home. But you have to remember, bunnies are chewers. It is necessary to cover or conceal any electrical wiring, legs of furniture and draping fabric touching the floor to circumvent a rabbit’s natural tendency to nibble and gnaw.
As an alternative to a live bunny, “Make Mine Chocolate” is a program started by the Columbus House Rabbit society. They believe it is much safer and more responsible to give a child, especially a young one, an Easter bunny made from scrumptious chocolate instead chancing the many pitfalls and expenses involved with live rabbit ownership.
Contact the Make Mine Chocolate program for further suggestions on ways to please your bunny-lover. You can also suggest that instead of getting chocolates, your child help the Easter bunny by adopting a pet through one of the many rabbit rescues organizations. A simple search for “adopt a bunny rabbit” will return worthy groups in your area where your child can make a donation or volunteer to help care for the lonely bunnies waiting for a forever home.
But before your Easter bunny joins the thousands of bunnies abandoned to shelters or cruelly let go in the wild where they will almost certainly die, make sure your home is ready to commit to the animals for the long term.
Bunny rabbit ownership is similar to owning a small dog or cat. Like these pets, a rabbit can hold a special place in family life if other animals are not present. To learn more about the proper care of the family Easter bunny and how to locate one, visit:
Or consider contacting the closest animal rescue shelter for guidance and education.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!