Each Easter, well-intentioned parents give into their children's pleas for a pet rabbit without a clear understanding of the responsibilities involved in caring for the animal. And a few months from now, animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies. The Central Dakota Humane Society asks that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about two important facts:
First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and timid. An active child who expects a cuddly pet can easily terrify or even injure a rabbit.
Second, a well cared for rabbit should live as long as a large dog (ten years or more) and will require just as much love, attention and veterinary care as a dog or cat would. So don't give an Easter rabbit to a child unless you know that the child's parents will be happy to take on a decade-long commitment.
Rabbits are a common, but misunderstood creature. Contrary to popular perception, they are not cuddly pets happy to be toted around by their young owners. Nor are they low-maintenance animals, content to sit idly in their cages. Rather, rabbits are highly social, but often fragile creatures that require regular interaction with their human family, an appropriate diet and veterinary care provided by a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. Like cats and dogs, they must be spayed or neutered (at a cost of $100 or more) for both behavioral and health reasons. Also, pet rabbits cannot be set "free" - it's a death sentence. Think twice before you take that cute little bunny home.
If you want to make a child's Easter happy, don't give a live rabbit unless you know it will be loved and cared for throughout its natural life. If there's any doubt, give a stuffed or chocolate bunny instead.
This article, for the most part, can also be applied to giving chicks and ducklings as gifts. Happy Easter, and let's make it a happy Easter for bunnies, chicks and ducklings too!