8 Best Reasons to NOT Give a Live Bunny for Easter
With Easter coming up, those precious bunnies in the pet stores are about to start looking all the more appealing to consumers looking or an interesting gift for their children. No doubt some parents will fall victims to the craze of wanting to do something different for their child this year, and as a result, bunnies across the country will be miserable. Some will die and others will languish because of a poorly considered decision to purchase a rabbit as a gift for a child at Easter.
Please think carefully before purchasing any live animal as a gift for a child (or an adult).
This page lists the reasons why you should not purchase a rabbit this Easter as a gift for a child. These reasons are specific to bunnies because many new owners lack knowledge about this species of animal and their care requirements, and pet stores aren't in a hurry to fill you in.
Bunnies are Cute, and They Make Good Pets
Admittedly, bunnies are adorable and tempting, and they make amazing pets for people who have the right personality type to take care of a rabbit. Affectionate and generally sweet-natured, many breeds fit right into family life with adults and older children.
Which begs the question: Why not purchase a bunny as a gift for a child this Easter? If rabbits make such good pets, then why should they be avoided specifically at this time of year. Is there something wrong with Easter?
The only thing that's wrong about Easter is that this time of year, everybody wants a rabbit. People aren't thinking about the commitment of ownership or the meaning to the rabbit or the family when this animal is brought into the home. At other times of year, parents may be more cautious or considerate, may view this as a live animal in need of care, but at Easter, the rabbit is often regarded simply as a prop, a toy, something "Easter-y."
Rabbits make amazing pets and if you want to buy one, by all means, you should get a rabbit -- at another time of the year when they aren't being mass produced in "farms" to be sold at Easter to undereducated pet owners.
Alternatives to Pet Rabbits for Easter
If you really want to give a rabbit for Easter, nobody's going to stop you. You should still probably read through this article to get a feel for the reasons why it's not a good idea to get a pet for a holiday, but in the meantime, please consider some alternatives to live rabbits as pets for your children this Easter.
- Stuffed rabbits are an excellent option. You may even be able to purchase stuffed rabbits made of real fur, if you don't have a moral objection to fur being used on your stuffed animals. These can be found on Ebay and Etsy and while relatively expensive, they are often beautiful. Maybe you could even make your own!
- Chocolate rabbits are seasonable and easy to find at Easter! Who doesn't love some Easter candy? Chocolate rabbits are a great gift for children, and in particular those who either don't get to have a lot of sweets or who have been abstaining for Lent. Better yet, they don't take up any space at all once eaten!
Without any further ado, reasons not to get a rabbit for Easter:
#1 Rabbit Don't Do Well with Young Children
In general, Rabbits don't make good pets for young children. Younger children have a hard time learning how to handle smaller animals, and may be kicked in the process of learning to handle holding a rabbit. Furthermore, bunnies don't always want to be held, and young children can be particularly hands-on and "grabby."
While rabbits can make great pets for older children, teenagers and adults, children under the age of 9 or 10 may not be ready for the responsibilities of taking care of a rabbit and could accidentally hurt the animal. If you absolutely must consider getting a live rabbit for your child this Easter, please do so with older children instead of the younger ones!
Make sure to neuter your bunnies when keeping them in pairs! If you absolutely must purchase an "Easter bunny" for your child, do the right thing and alter your child's pet!
#2 Rabbits are Social Creatures and Should be Kept in Pairs
In the wild, rabbits have a complex social structure. They've carried this into their domesticated breeds as well, and bunnies will always do best if they're kept in pairs with one another. Impulsive purchases of "Easter bunnies" make this prohibitive, as young rabbits are difficult to sex and keeping two bucks (male rabbits) together is ill-advised, as the bunnies may fight one another, particularly if they aren't neutered. Social as they are, rabbits can also be territorial.
If you are seriously considering purchasing a rabbit, you may wish to look into your local House Rabbit Society so that you can obtain a bonded pair. They are often available through rescues and already altered. This makes your job much easier!
Myths about Rabbits You Should Know Before Buying an "Easter Bunny"
#3 Rabbits Shouldn't Just be Left Outdoors
While rabbits can be put in a hutch outdoors to live, this is not an advised practice. Rabbits are highly social creatures (as mentioned above) and require interaction with one another and with their humans. Putting your rabbit outdoors means that they are susceptible to parasites, predators, and that they (probably) get less interaction with you. Keeping your rabbit indoors is the best practice for their well-being and for your enjoyment.
Rabbits are happiest when kept in the house. They can be given the run of the house if they are litter box trained (which is a relatively easy process with rabbits) and the house is "rabbit-proofed."
#4 Rabbits Need Space
Rabbits are not the kind of pet that can be put into a cage and forgotten about. Unlike small rodents, they need to have room to stretch their legs, and a wheel or other type of device won't be satisfactory for these animals. Because their back legs are strong and powerful, bunnies need room to stretch their muscles and to move around. It's best if they can spend some time outside (where they can nibble on vegetation as well) with the supervision of their caretakers, but if kept indoors they need space to hop around in.
Please don't expect to be able to purchase a rabbit with a "starter kit" and leave your rabbit in the hutch or cage all the time. Your rabbit will be miserable and you will have wasted a life.
#5 Rabbits Require Specialized Veterinary Care
Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits require special veterinarians who have studied lapine medicine. Most exotic veterinarians can see rabbits, but you'll want to make sure that you have one available in your area.
Talk to your vet before purchasing a rabbit to make sure that your veterinarian of choice has experience with rabbits and that he or she is able to perform the desired services, such as neutering your pet(s) in order to prevent the marking of territory or the production of kits (baby rabbits).
#6 Rabbits Require a Lot of Work
Young children in particular may not be able to handle the work load that comes with rabbit ownership. Litter boxes need to be changed, cages need to be cleaned and rabbits need to be fed, watered and exercised. They also need quite a bit of company when kept by themselves, and young owners aren't always conscious of the needs of the creatures surrounding them.
Rabbits are most appropriate for people who understand the rigors (and joys) of owning these amazing little creatures. They should be reserved for older children, teens and adults who are fully prepared to put the work into taking good care of a pet.
Live bunnies aren't toys. If you don't think that your child is prepared to take care of a live animal, perhaps a stuffed rabbit is more appropriate.
#7 Rabbits Live Long Lives
If they are properly cared for and are not in some way put into the way of danger (i.e. kept outdoors where predators or extreme temperatures can harm them) rabbits can live to be between 10-12 years old. Rabbits have a life span similar to large dogs! When purchasing a rabbit, this is something to take into consideration. That cute little bunny you bought your daughter for Easter is going to grow up and live for long enough that she may have to leave the bunny at home when she goes to college. Are you prepared to care for an animal for this long?
Just like you see with dogs and cats, the message is this: A pet is for life.
#8 Rabbits Should be Neutered, Like Cats and Dogs
Your rabbit will need to be neutered. This process isn't inexpensive, and while low-cost neutering services exist in most areas for dogs and cats, you'll have to pay the full cost to neuter your rabbits.
Some vets do a discounted neutering if you're altering two rabbits, as bonding is important for this species. However, neutering may run as much as $500 per rabbit. Are you prepared to put this much of an investment into a treat you bought your child for Easter? If not, try getting your son or daughter a stuffed rabbit instead.
© 2014 Becki Rizzuti
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