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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.

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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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Diane

I love bunnies. I had several as pets when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I think parents or well meaning adults think it would be cute to give a child a bunny, chick or duckling for Easter. It is a good idea ONLY if the parents and child are willing to learn how to care for the animal and give it everything it needs even when it isn't a baby anymore. They need the right food and proper care and they need to be kept in a safe environment. Having one as a pet is a great idea, but ONLY if you are willing to be responsible about it's care.

Patricia Dehler

Nicely said. I am allergic to rabbits, or I'd have one.

Jane DePadro

I have had 4 pet bunnies over the years. They do have affectionate, distinct and amazing personalities. They can be frightened it is true, but they also are brave and can be aggressive in certain situations. It is TOO HOT for your bunny in most climates where the temp goes over 85 degrees F. Keep them indoors, if you have air conditioning. Let them run, they can be hilarious. Our first bunny gal, Wolfie loved my husband and was a great comfort in his last days. First thing, get your bunny fixed. They live longer and healthier lives. DO NOT LET little children pick them up, they can kick their back legs and break their own backs. They will play with toys. Get two when you adopt, and make sure they like each other. You will need a special veterinarian to take care of your bunny/ies. Enjoy them. Diane's comments are essential also.

Caroline

It is never a good idea to give a child an animal, any animal, as a "holiday" gift, whether it be Easter, Christmas, birthday or whatever, as it sends entirely the wrong message, and it's also a really bad time to bring an animal into the household. Receiving a living animal along with the toys and candy equates the animal with those things, and all the excitement and extra visitors are very unsettling for an animal already trying to adjust to a new environment. If the family wants to get a pet, then they should do their research beforehand, and then give the child a symbol of the pet as the gift - a basket, leash, cage, etc. After the holiday is over and all the hoopla dies down and the household returns to normal, that is the time to get the pet and, if possible, to involve the child in the choice of animal so that they feel involved with the process.

Tanja

I grew up having dwarf bunnies. Today I have 2 lionhead bunnies that are running the house. They are potty trained and run around the apartment. This is the first time I'm having two and it was the best decision ever, as they care for each other (cleaning) and getting into boys "squarrel" - with love. They had to get fixed as the hormones took over. They are delicate creatures where cables and hole have to be covered (heating convectors) to protect them. As having seen and heard too much of abandoned bunnies after Easter I could not agree more with the fact that they require care, and are not just cute soft to look at.... They can live for a long time and medical care can add up. Fortunately we have a very good vet that is not easy to find either as most vet don't specialize in "exotic" animals as this is what they are considered. My boys are also more nocturnal which often can be fun night entertainment. They are free to roam around in the place but usually keep in their living/dining room area. In sum they have character, can be trained to use the potty, are not barking/meowing( good for apartment living) , can be cuddly (not all are...just who they are) and are overall big bundles of love...but they are not fillers in the Easter basket... Happy Easter!

Molly

Rabbits should only be considered as pets after learning about their unique dietary and other needs. As this article points out, they are intelligient animals with individual personalities. This means caging them for extended periods is a poor quality of life for them. However, their chewing ways necessitate vigilance and putting anything, such as cleaning products, out of reach--away. This includes kitchen mops with cleaning fluid inside of them! They are lovely animals and can peacefully coexist with cats and dogs if those predatory animals are accepting. I found cats were no match for the speed of an agitated bunny--she was putting the fear of bunnies into the kitties one day by nipping at their legs. What I'm trying to say is read, or talk to people, ideally ones from a rabbit rescue organization, not pet store employees. Rabbit rescuers are invaluable resources for learning how to keep your rabbit healthy and happy. There are websites specifically about house rabbits. Learn about rabbits' life styles and special needs before acquiring one. Spaying and neutering are just as important for curbing undesirable behaviors in rabbits as for cats. Please consider finding a pet rabbit at a shelter or rabbit rescue. They have an abundance of very adorable rabbits that people tried out and rejected, often because the bunnies were an Easter impulse for a wheedling child.

Owner of two rabbits

1. Rabbits can live outdoors -- our two rabbits live in a large enclosure with a built-in hutch for security. There are coyotes, owls, and hawks in the neighborhood -- but a good enclosure can keep rabbits safe from predators. If your rabbit lives indoors be prepared for a smell.
2. Find out if your child is allergic to rabbits before considering a rabbit rescue. We learned the hard way.
3. Rabbits live a long time.
4. If you don't take time to socialize and spend time with them, they can be elusive and unfriendly (not mean).

Having had two rabbits for several years, I honestly don't think they make great pets. Never buy a rabbit as there are many available for rescue!

Heather

I'm not sure why you think indoor rabbits are smelly. I'm a long-time house rabbit owner and have had as many as three at once. I have not found this to be so, provided the litter box is changed regularly. It might make a difference whether the rabbits are altered (as they should be). All my rabbits have been spayed and neutered.

Charles

I'm not sure my cat, Billie would approve of a rabbit using her box - or get in the way when I need to clean it or when she needs to go.
In terms of being social; I doubt they would even get along as friends.

Wendie

Kids can't be the one responsible for any pet!! Adults are ultimately the one responsible for any & all animals!! A baby bunny (Honey Love) hopped in my yard & almost got killed by one of my cats!! Rabbits have no way to defend themselves and need to be protected!! I love my bunny but she is work!! I put her on a leash to roam the backyard(cable, she chews through everything else!) She is quite the digger and makes bunny holes all over my lawn!! She also doesn't like bunny chow & cost me a fortune in produce to fed her!! She is outside mostly, but I bring her inside if its real hot!! I do love my Honey Bunny & I'm glad she hopped in my yard, but they are not toys!!

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