Every year in the U.S., in the weeks after Easter, thousands of unwanted baby rabbits and chicks are dropped off at animal shelters or worse — dumped out in the wild to fend for themselves. Why? Because parents thought it was a good idea to give their child a pet they know nothing about and the child has grown disinterested. Most of these animals are purchased on a whim from pet stores or breeders when parents see how cute they are — “This bunny will be a great Easter present for little Billy!”

When someone gives up a gifted pet, any pet, such as an Easter rabbit, they are contributing to animal shelter overcrowding. When shelters cannot adopt out all those rabbits into loving homes or place with rescues, they are euthanized. Or you have signed its death warrant if you release a domesticated rabbit into the wild. They are prey animals and will not last long having to fend for themselves. Don’t be a part of the problem!

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Why is it not a good idea to give a bunny to your child as an Easter gift? Here’s why:

1. Rabbits are NOT toys

Rabbits, especially baby bunnies, are fragile and can easily be injured by an excited child just wanting to cuddle. Their bones break easily and the most common ways it breaks occur by being dropped or jerked around. Rabbits are living creatures that need open space to roam and play, therefore, keeping a rabbit locked up in cage that’s sitting on a shelf in your child’s room is inadequate. A rabbit cannot wait for a kid to want to take them out to play. A family must be loving and happy to supervise daily bunny-children playtime.

2. Rabbits are not “practice” pets

While most rabbits are smaller than other animals, it does not mean they make good “practice pets.” Joyce Kuhns, lead education and adoption coordinator for Southeastern PA-DE House Rabbit Society says, “Rabbits aren’t pocket pets, they are not low maintenance or low cost … they are very social and interactive. They need daily environmental and social interaction just as a dog or a cat would.” Bring a first pet into your home only after you’ve educated yourself and your family on what it means to be a good pet guardian.

3. Rabbits need daily, routine care

Small animals are not low-maintenance and require the same amount of care as other pets. Rabbit care includes providing food, fresh water, clean bedding, daily exercise and playtime, grooming, and routine veterinary check-ups. They require daily exercise in a big indoor playroom or in an area of the yard that is safe from predators, including family dogs and cats.

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4. Rabbits chew on things

Since many rabbits live indoors, rabbit-proofing your home has to be a priority. From wood furniture and books to shoes and toys, rabbits will chew on most anything. They will even chew on electrical cords which is dangerous and life-threatening. If you have a free roaming house rabbit, be warned they can hop up stairs, so either get a chew-proof pet gate or rabbit-proof the upstairs too.

5. Rabbits grow up quickly and live a long time

Like any other animal, bunnies grow up fast and may develop special needs or start needing other types of medical care. In general, a spayed or neutered domesticated rabbit has a lifespan of eight to 12 years which means you must be completely committed to being their guardian for at least that many years.

Ethical and Fun Easter Animal Ideas

  • From Rescue Chocolate on Rabbit House Society, buy a handcrafted, vegan, kosher, organic, and fair trade rescue chocolate bunny instead of a real Easter bunny this year!
  • Go and visit an animal sanctuary as a special Easter trip with your family.
  • Take a trip to your local animal shelter and ask a volunteer for a tour. Pick the shelter for knowledge about rabbits while you visit and hold one!
  • Read your child a book about or featuring bunnies, chicks, and other Easter-like animals.
  • Make Easter animal crafts from recycled and re-purposed household items.

There are good reasons to have these fluffy critters in your life and there may be a time when your family will be 100 percent ready to care for a rabbit. At that time, hop to adopt a rescued rabbit and be the best responsible pet guardian you can be!

Are you thinking that adopting a rabbit is in your future? Then, watch this!

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