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Rabbits at Easter

by Amy Shapiro

A smiling child in an adorable outfit clutches a cute baby bunny in her arms. What's wrong with this picture? Contrary to Eastertime hype, rabbits and small children are not a good match. The natural exuberance, rambunctiousness and decibel-level of even the gentlest toddler are stressful for the sensitive rabbit. It is the rare child who will enjoy and appreciate the rabbit's subtle and sensitive nature.

Another misconception is that rabbits are passive and cuddly. They are ground-loving creatures who feel frightened and insecure when held and restrained. Children like a companion they can hold, carry, and cuddle, just as they do their favorite stuffed animal. It is unreasonable to expect a child to be able to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, or to make a 10-year commitment to anything! All too often, the child loses interest, and the rabbit ends up neglected or abandoned.

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Some people think rabbits are a "low-maintenance" pet. In fact, they require almost as much work as a dog. They must be housetrained. The house must be bunny-proofed, or Thumper will chew electrical cords, rugs, books, and furniture. They must be spayed or neutered, or they will mark your house with feces and urine. They must live indoors, as members of the family. Rabbits kept in hutches outdoors have an average lifespan of about one year; house rabbits can live 8 to 10 years. Predators abound, not only in rural areas but in urban and suburban locations as well. Outdoor rabbits become bored and depressed from isolation. To consign these sensitive, intelligent, social animals to life in a hutch is to miss all the joy of sharing your life with a rabbit. Unless he's part of your daily routine, you will not have the opportunity to really get to know his subtle personality.

Clearly, rabbits are not for everyone! Are you a gentle adult who lives in a quiet household? Are you eager to get to know rabbits on their own terms - to spend time down at their level, on the floor; to allow the rabbit to initiate gestures of friendship and trust? If you think you are one of those rare individuals who would enjoy sharing life with a rabbit, please visit your local animal shelter or rabbit-rescue group. As rabbits have increased in popularity, they are suffering the same fate as our other companion animals - abandonment. You can also check your local veterinary clinic and "Pets" classifieds of your newspaper. It's a sad fact that no matter where you live, you are within 10 miles of a rabbit who needs a home. The effort made to find that special bunny means you are saving a life.

So if little Susie is pleading for a bunny for Easter, do a rabbit a favor, and buy her a toy rabbit that she can snuggle to her heart's content. Let's make Easter a joyful time for our long-eared friends.

A Poem called, "The Easter Rabbit" is also available on-line.

Help us spread the word!

  • If you know of someone who is thinking of purchasing a rabbit at Easter, let them know it's a bad idea. Print out this article or The Easter Bunny Poem and give them a copy. We've designed specially formatted of printing versions of these documents to make it easier.
  • If you have your own homepage, participate in our "Easter and Bunnies don't mix" education campaign by adding our graphic and link to your homepage.

  • Post flyers at your local animal hospital, pet supply store, supermarket, school, or church. Several different flyer designs are available to download.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Tell them in your own words about the truth of rabbits at Easter.

House Rabbit Society is a nonprofit rescue and education group.
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