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Should You Get an Easter Bunny?

Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 1:00pm
grey and white rabbit

Domestic rabbits are delightful companion animals. They are inquisitive, intelligent, sociable and affectionate. But did you know that cute baby bunny you’re thinking of buying for your child on Easter may still be around long after your child has grown into a teen? Rabbits can live as long as small dogs. Should the novelty wear off, you’ll have an adult rabbit in the house that needs your care and attention every day.

Before you fill your Easter basket with a live bunny, check out our top tips for how to take care of a pet rabbit.

  • Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile, and require specialized veterinary care.
  • Where’s the only place for your rabbit’s cage? INDOORS! Rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator.
  • Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box.
  • The most important component of your rabbit’s diet is grass hay, such as timothy or brome.
  • The best place to get your bun? Adoption is your first, and best, option! There are many homeless companion rabbits at shelters and rescue groups all across the country.

Go to your local shelter or rescue group and find out how to adopt a rabbit (or even better, a bonded pair). For info on bunny care and rescue groups, head to the House Rabbit Society.

Black and white rabbit being heldWant to stay up-to-date on the latest news about rabbits?

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, ASPCA News Alert - you'll receive important updates on what's going on and how you can make an impact to save animals' lives!

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Charles

Wendie, kids can learn how to clean the litter box. Parents are the ones responsible for food and water - there is no way a rabbit can be trained to use the box or share it with a cat...let alone get in the way of cleaning.

Heather

Rabbits should be kept indoors not just for safety but because they are more likely to flourish in terms of the amount of human interaction they get. People think rabbits are dull or unexpressive or not affectionate mostly because they have not had the kind of interaction with them that brings out their personality -- and this is more likely to happen if the rabbit is a part of the family life instead of banished outdoors. Furthermore, I'm disappointed that the ASPCA didn't note that rabbits should not be confined to cages all the time, but should have at minimum an exercise pen and ideally a rabbit-proofed room.

saundra

I had a velveteen rabbit named boots, because his feet were black and his legs were white. He was the sweetest softest critter I had ever had as a companion. He was so smart, he knew when my son brought his three rottweilers to visit, they would not hurt him, so he played beneath their feet. It was so comical, because the dogs were shaking with the want to chase, but they never ever harmed him. Boots loved to sit w/ me and watch TV. After 12 years, he finally crossed over the rainbow, and left me in tears. A beautiful, loving furry friend. I still miss him.

Emma

My parents got me two bunnies for my birthday once when I was younger. My family takes pet care very seriously (we've had tons of pets such as dogs, cats, and even horses) and we are not the kind of people who just get rid of an animal. Unfortunately we didn't do a very good job socializing my bunnies when they were young so they were basically wild bunnies that didn't like us at all. We took care of then to the very end though, making sure they had extra bedding in the winter and ice packs in the summer to buffer them against the climate (we live in So. Cal so that wasn't much go an issue lol). Basically if parents are going to give their kids a pet for a gift then they have to be willing to stick with that animal no matter what. The bad lessons that get taught to kids are when the parents discard of the animal once it is no longer a new, shiny thing. Having to take care of those bunnies that absolutely hated me actually made me more serious about pet ownership because I know what a drag it can be to when it goes wrong.

DIANE HUEY

There are many rabbits up for adoption. Why not give them a home instead of supporting pet stores that sell animals for profit?

Sharon

Had a rabbit growing and they are sweet and gentle animals but are alot of work and responsibitly and feel that pets are shouldn't be given to small children who are not ready for pets

Lesley E.

My Californian Rabbit is 2 years old, he just got his adult colors in during his last molt. I adopted him from a young couple when he was less than a year old, they could not keep him, at the time they thought he was a she, it wasn't until she (he) was older that I realized that she was a he. Rabbits are a lot of work, more than a hamster. They require more maintenance, and grooming. Hamsters take care of their own grooming, BunBuns need more than they can do themselves. Their nails need to be kept trim, and their fur needs regular brushing, they need to be neutered/spayed like cats and dogs, and they have a stronger smell, if it is too strong, you can buy a product you can add to their food/water that reduces the smell of their leavings, which is something I personally prefer over surgery to remove their scent glands. The best starter pet for a child personally is a goldfish or hamster. I had many hamsters growing up, they are easy to take care of, and can be held. They are a great pet to get when you want to teach your child how to care for an animal, and handle one. My decision to get a rabbit is because hamsters do have short lifespans and I couldn't handle them dying after 2 to 3 years. So, I got my BunBun, he is a handful, but I love him. But his cage is actually a medium dog kennel because I could not find any rabbit cage that was big enough for him, Californians can get up to 10lbs. The thing is his is a breed that is often bred for their meat and furs, and I can not fathom anyone breeding them for the sole purpose of killing them for their meat and fur, they are lovable, and don't bite (hard). Mine nips at you for attention sometimes, but mostly he will hop up and nudge your leg with his nose, it is so endearing. It is true they are physically fragile, rabbits have spinal problems, and they can actually fracture, or even break their spines, if they kick their back legs with too much force. So, when holding them you have to hold them in a way to prevent them from kicking, I often hold him so his stomach is too my chest, or I brace his back feet against my forearm, I hold him firmly, but not in a way to hurt him, just enough to keep him from kicking out if something startles him. Also, keep in mind they are destructive, s if you want to give your bunbun free roam of the house, be sure to bunny-proof everything, your walls, loose wires, anything he can chew, they will chew everything, even your clothes and shoes. I found that limiting him to the room with that he can do the least amount of harm to the best way to let him have his roam time and reduce the damage to my house and belongings. So, bunny-proof house, have a large enough cage for your bunny's size, and make sure you can provide basic grooming needs, I have yet to find a local pet grooming salon that will groom bunnies. Also bunnies are sensitive to extreme temperatures, anything hotter than 80 degrees will be hard on your bunny, but you don't want to freeze him either.

Murray

I'm thrilled that this conversation is going on. I work with a Rabbit Rescue called Luv-N-Bunns and we dread Easter and the weeks that follow since this is when there's a great increase in the number of bunnies that come to us. Sadly, we can't take them all and many get euthanized. What we do participate in is the "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign to try to educate people about the up side and down side of adopting rabbits. This article goes a long way to that purpose and I thank you for it.

Murray

I'm thrilled that this conversation is going on. I work with a Rabbit Rescue called Luv-N-Bunns and we dread Easter and the weeks that follow since this is when there's a great increase in the number of bunnies that come to us. Sadly, we can't take them all and many get euthanized. What we do participate in is the "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign to try to educate people about the up side and down side of adopting rabbits. This article goes a long way to that purpose and I thank you for it.

Bernice

My kids both had a bunny that were housed inside when they were young. They were fun, I would stick to the dwarf with the smaller children, and now they spay or neuter which in my days they did not. I recommend them. I usde to have a cat at the time too and the cat and 1 of the bunnies would paly and run around the house together it was funny.

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