‘Tis the season. Spring is just around the corner, and Easter follows soon after.
And about two or three months after that, my mother-in-law will launch into her busy season.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, you might recall that she has a rabbit sanctuary in the South Carolina Upstate. Every year for the past 50, shortly after Easter, Caroline is inundated with phone calls to “Please take this rabbit. We got it for our child as an Easter gift, and …”
Whatever the explanation that follows, it’s something that could have been avoided had the parents done a little research and given careful consideration to the novel idea of giving a live rabbit as an Easter bunny for a child.
Dozens of cute little live bunnies will have gotten too big too fast, or chewed through too many shoes or phone cords or curtains, or turned the house into a bunny bathroom.
In additino, the child doesn’t know how to (or doesn’t want to) care for the rabbit, the rabbit appears frightened of the child, the child might have accidentally hurt the rabbit.
The list goes on.
The intended pets will have quickly become unwanted nuisances.
Perhaps a chocolate bunny might be the wisest choice for most children – and their families. Or how about a soft and fluffy stuffed rabbit? The same goes for live ducks and chicks. Chocolate and toys are much better choices.
But it’s Easter, and pictures and videos of bunnies are everywhere. Bunnies are so cute, and they’re quiet, and what a clever gift. If this has crossed your mind, please pause and think before you buy.
Think about how your child expresses love by hugging. Watch how she hugs a favorite stuffed bear or doll baby. Now imagine if the child hugged a live rabbit that tightly.
As Caroline explains, the very way that children show love can injure a rabbit. Rabbits are delicate and fragile and they do not generally liked to be handled.
It’s not just children who don’t know about rabbits. Most adults don’t either. Rabbits require special food, including hay; special dental and veterinary care; and a special predator-proof environment.
Rabbits make wonderful house pets for people who understand how to care for them. In fact, they are the third most popular house pet in America, found in some 19 million homes (following dogs in 46.3 million homes and cats in 38.9 million households), according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The AVMA also says, “Cute and cuddly rabbits need proper attention and should never be an impulse buy.”
If you still think your family would enjoy a rabbit as a pet, do some research first. Learn what house rabbits need to be good companions. Talk to those who have had pet rabbits. Ask your vet if he or she is well-versed in specialized rabbit care. And be prepared to care for your pet when the children lose interest.
Most importantly, understand that a pet rabbit is not a toy. He is a real, live 10-year commitment. Rabbits are happy, wonderful companions when properly cared for, and miserable when they are not.
Here’s another option. You could virtually adopt a rabbit that lives at the Rabbit Sanctuary. The minimal adoption fee helps support the rabbits who live there. Visit rabbitsanctuaryinc.com to learn more.