Easter is no treat for real rabbits
There are many reasons why pets do not make good presents. Yes, a fuzzy baby rabbit would look adorable in your child's basket on Easter morning. But please think twice before giving a live animal away as a holiday gift, especially to a child. Rabbits are not the snugly, easy to care for pets that most people think of them as.
Did you know that an estimated 95% of rabbits given as gifts for Easter will not survive to see their 1st birthday? A sad statistic, considering that the average life span of a domestic rabbit is between 8 and 12 years, with some of them even living well into their teens. Often times purchased on a whim, many owners decide in the weeks and months after Easter time that little Peter Rabbit is not what they expected him to be. The numbers of rabbits relinquished to shelters and rescues skyrockets right after Easter time, and those are just the lucky rabbits. Many many more are faced with grimmer fates, such as being "released" into the wild where they face almost certain death, or being left in inadequate cages where they receive minimal care and are never allowed to obtain the exercise and social interactions that they thrive on. Even the rabbits that do make it into shelters face an uncertain future. With the sheer numbers of rabbits being dropped off after Easter time, most rescues are hard pressed to find room for them all.
Did you know that rabbits should receive regular vet care, the same as a cat or a dog? Having them spayed or neutered is important, especially for the females, and usually goes a long way towards making them better pets. However, because rabbits are still consider exotic pets in the veterinary world, vets that are trained to treat them can be not only hard to find, but expensive. Rabbit vets are normally even more expensive than your average cat or dog vet.
Rabbits require special attention be paid to their diet. They have sensitive GI tracts and teeth that never stop growing throughout the rabbit's life. If the proper diet is not provided, serious health conditions and even death can occur. Rabbits also require much more space than your average budget rabbit hutch. They should receive at least a few hours per day of time outside of their cage to exercise and explore. Rabbits are very social animals, and benefit from having a (spayed or neutered!) companion if their humans are not able to pay them a lot of attention. Being a prey species, many rabbits do not like to be picked up and most of the time you will have to earn their trust before they will be comfortable spending time with you.
Many people think of rabbits as easy to care for, cute and cuddly, low maintenance pets. They may be right about the cute part, but most rabbits are not cuddly, low maintenance, easy, or cheap! Please, like with any pet, if you are interested in owning a rabbit make sure to thoroughly research their care ahead of time. And consider adopting one from a shelter, not only will you be helping to save a life, but you'll save yourself some money because most shelter rabbits have already been seen by a vet and fixed.
If you aren't sure if you (or your child) is ready for the often times 10 + year commitment that comes with buying a new bunny, than consider other alternatives this Easter. Stuffed animals can be just as adorable as the real thing, but are much easier to care for! Not to mention that it's okay if your child looses interested in them. Or take a tip from the Make Mine Chocolate campaign, and opt for a chocolate bunny over the real thing.
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