In the name of all the rabbits you have ever loved or admired, including Bugs, Peter, Br’er and Roger, not to mention Thumper and the Energizer Bunny, please think twice before getting or giving a bunny for Easter.
Real life bunnies are way cuter and cuddlier than their cartoon counterparts, and unlike make-believe rabbits, they are gentle living creatures who have a very different temperament and needs from dogs or cats. In short, they are not toys or holiday novelties, though sadly, many are acquired at Easter time as a gift for a child with not a whole lot more forethought than goes into picking up an Easter basket. The same goes for the little chicks and ducklings who turn up with bunnies at this time of year at pet and feed stores – not a great gift idea and one that usually doesn’t end well for the animal or the child for whom they are intended as a present.
As with any pet, please adopt rather than buy a rabbit if you decide that one is right for your family. Bunnies are great, house-trainable pets. They are intelligent, curious, quiet companions, with engaging and distinct personalities. They can live eight to 12 years, which makes bringing one home a substantial commitment. Rabbits require regular vet care, and because not all veterinarians treat rabbits or know much about them, it might be necessary to take a rabbit to an exotic animal vet. Just like human specialists, these vets can be harder to find and more expensive.
Before you jump on the bunny bandwagon, here are a few additional things to consider before you buy a rabbit to give as an Easter gift:
- Sad but true, rabbits are the third most euthanized animals in our nation’s shelters, right after cats and dogs. Many of the bunnies dying in shelters are the result of a well-meaning but not well-thought-through gift.
- Rabbits, especially baby rabbits, are very fragile animals and are not really suitable pets for small children. A good rabbit rescue will help you bring home a bunny who is just right for your family.
- If not handled properly, rabbits can easily be injured or injure a child. While kids love to hug bunnies, most bunnies don’t really like to be held because it deprives them of their only means of defense, which is to have their speedy legs firmly on the ground. A frightened bunny, struggling to free himself from being held in a painful way, can scratch or bite.
- Rabbits breed like, well, rabbits. Pet bunnies need to be spayed or neutered, and a good bunny rescue will make sure that the one you take home is already fixed.
- Until there are No More Homeless Pets, there is no good reason to ever buy a rabbit.
Senior Director, Communications
Best Friends Animal Society
P.S. Consider making Easter for the bunnies at the Sanctuary extra “hoppy” this year by purchasing something on their wish list.