10 Reasons Not to Buy an Easter Bunny
By Brittany May of Happy Days Farm
Did you know that most rabbits purchased for Easter presents will not live to see their first birthday, even though their lifespan should be around ten years? Those that do survive are generally living in less than desirable conditions, or end up in the shelters. Why you ask? Because people purchase rabbits expecting them to act one way, and they get upset when they do not.
Here are a few things to consider prior to purchasing a rabbit
1. Rabbits are not easy, starter pets. They need adult care, and it is best for them to live indoors in a climate controlled environment. Rabbits are extremely clean animals, and they can be trained to usea litter box within days. They can easily get too cold if outside in the winter, or die from heat strokes in the summer.
2. Baby rabbits grow up fast. By the time they are six months old, they are in their temperamental, hormonal teenage years. This is the point most rabbits end up in shelters. They start snapping and charging their owners. This is just hormonal behavior, and will pass after they are spayed/neutered, or when they reach the 12-18 month mark. Rabbits taken to a shelter will probably be euthanized. Please consider adopting an older rabbit if you do decide to get one.
3. Rabbits need specialized vet care that is only provided at an exotic pet clinic. Their health can deteriorate quickly if they get sick, and any ign of respiratory or stomach distress is an emergency.
4. Rabbits need to be spayed or neutered at a specialized clinic to protect their long-term health. This needs to be done by a specialist who has done it many times. Rabbits do not react well to anesthesia, and can easily die if the vet isn’t experienced at giving it to rabbits.
5. Most rabbits do not enjoy being cuddled and held. You must not force them, or they will never trust you. Also, if they struggle to escape, they can easily break their back. Instead, get on the floor with them, and allow them to sniff you, jump on you eventually, and get to know you on their terms. It can take several months for a rabbit to bond to a person. So, don’t give up, just do it on their terms, with a nice treat waiting for them.
6. Rabbits are prey animals, and they react that way. If something scares or startles them, they will run and hide. A rabbit does not understand that a screaming child chasing them is only wanting a cuddle. The rabbit fears for his life, and can actually die of a heart attack. For these reasons, I do not recommend rabbits to families with small children.
7. Rabbits have specialized diets and delicate digestive tracts. Pellets are not enough. They need fresh food and timothy hay. (Fresh food meaning romaine lettuce, spring lettuce mix, vegetables, fruits, etc.)
8. Hutches and cages are not enough. Rabbits need to be out of their cages as much as possible, with a bare minimum of two hours a day. They require lots of exercise and stimulation. A rabbit that is left alone will suffer greatly. They are very social animals, and can easily become depressed, and can develop arthritis from inactivity.
9. Rabbits can become destructive, i.e., chewing cords and doors, etc. They need chew toys, tunnels, boxes, etc, to help gnaw their teeth down. In the absence of this, the baseboards work just fine. Their teeth continually grow, just like their nails.
10. Rabbits are incredibly smart, loving, and entertaining pets. They don’t give their trust like a puppy, you have to earn it. Once you do, you will have the best pet ever, but don’t think this is easy. It takes time and effort on your part. You cannot force a rabbit to love you. But once a rabbit does love you, you should have a loyal friend for ten years.
Only buy a rabbit if you think ten years is not enough time with such an amazing friend. If you aren’t sure, please just buy a stuffed animal, not a real one.