By Franny McKeever
Easter is approaching and, as a rabbit lover and rabbit rescue volunteer, I am writing to request you do not buy a rabbit for Easter!
If you are interested in having a rabbit, it should be for all the right reasons and not because of a holiday – and certainly not as a gift. Bunnies fill our animal shelters in the months following Easter. The unlucky ones get dumped outdoors to fend for themselves after families realize what is involved. They do not survive.
Rabbits are every bit as nice a pet as a family cat or dog and will live with you as a companion for eight to 10 years, if cared for properly. However, they are not low-maintenance starter pets, as some people assume. They have traditionally been kept in outdoor hutches or cages, and so it is no surprise that they are neglected without much thought. Rabbits are actually wonderful, sociable, skittish, demanding pets. They need a person to understand them and take them seriously!
First, rabbits need to live indoors. They will need a bunny-proofed area in your home to be free and exercise for at least four hours a day. Ideally, they will have a large exercise pen, bunny condo or bunny-proofed room in your home to call their own. They will have a litter box that is changed every couple of days and stocked with hay twice daily.
They will also receive a large leafy green salad of bunny-safe vegetables and fresh water. They need bunny toys to play with and chew on and lots of attention on their terms. They will need their nails clipped every few weeks and they will need to be brushed. They will also need an exotic pet vet, and you will want to have a separate fund or pet insurance, as exotic vets can be very expensive.
Bunnies are very fragile prey animals that should never be picked up by a child. They don’t generally want to be picked up at all. If they do not get enough attention, they often do better with a bunny friend that they must gradually learn to trust in a process called “bunny-bonding.” This will not work with every pair of bunnies, since they are very particular about which bunny they can work things out with!🐰This can only happen after they are spayed or neutered – which is a necessary procedure to keep bunnies healthy and well behaved pets.
All bunnies should be spayed or neutered, and one way to avoid the $200 to $500 cost is to adopt a bunny!
Adoption is the very best way to bring a spayed or neutered rabbit into your home! You will be giving a bunny a home and at the same time perhaps become one less person perpetuating the bunny breeding business that causes the overpopulation of bunnies in the first place.
So if you are truly interested in having a bunny for the eight to 10 years they will live with you, absolutely do your homework first!!
Learn all you can about the care involved. Decide first if you have the time to dedicate to these wonderful, funny and spirited animals that need the same love and room to run around as any larger animal does.
Please understand that a bunny is not a novelty pet to be purchased as a seasonal holiday gift but rather a long-term commitment to be loved and cared for every day of their lives!