By Frances Goodman
Are You Sure You Want to Buy the Easter Bunny?
As Easter approaches, once again many will give in to the impulse to buy an Easter bunny.
Its an impulse purchase that all too often ends up badly for the cute, furry baby bunnies being offered in the pet shop or flea market.
Contrary to popular opinion, rabbits do not make a good first pet for children. They are delicate, ground-loving creatures (think burrow) and can be nervous when handled by children. This can result in scratches for the child, and injury to the rabbit if it is dropped. All too often, these highly social animals end up isolated in the basement or garage after the Easter holiday is over.
A few months later, Easter rabbits are typically surrendered to shelters or set free in a park or backyard to fend for themselves.
But because domestic rabbits are a different species from their wild cousins, they cannot survive on their own. They’re often killed within a day or two by a predator
. If you really want a bunny, and can provide the proper housing and socialization it should have, here are some important caregiver tips from the House Rabbit Society and the Humane Society of the United States:
- Rabbits can live for more than 10 years.
- Just like cats and dogs, it’s important for rabbits to be spayed or neutered. This not only prevents reproduction, but improves behavior, and reduces the risks of certain cancers.
- Being highly social, rabbits are far happier in pairs or groups than when kept alone.
- Domesticated rabbits are safer and happier living indoors as a part of the family. (Keeping rabbits outside in a hutch can be dangerous, putting them at risk from hungry and determined predators.)
- House rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, but never use clay litter, clumping litter, litter with deodorant crystals, pine litter or cedar litter, as they each are dangerous to rabbits for different reasons. See more about this on the web site noted below.
- Rabbits can be trained to do tricks or even run obstacle courses. Sadly, rabbits are the third most frequently surrendered to shelters, right after cats and dogs, according to the HSUS.
Adoption is the humane option for a family seriously seeking a floppy-eared friend. There are thousands of homeless rabbits available through shelters and rescue groups around the country.
For excellent guidelines on the care, feeding, behavior and health needs of pet rabbits visit the House Rabbit Societys web site at and that of their sister organization, “Make Mine Chocolate,” at . Both organizations are working to break the seasonal cycle of bunnies being acquired and then relinquished to shelters, by educating the public about the responsibilities involved in keeping a companion rabbit — before a rabbit is brought home.
Frances Goodman is a professional dog obedience trainer and pet care writer who lives in Royal Palm Beach. Email questions to her at
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