Every year, just after Easter, animal shelters like Chicago’s Red Door are inundated with rabbits found outside. As it turns out, many of these abandoned rabbits were given as Easter presents.
Since Easter 2015, Red Door has taken in 83 pet rabbits abandoned outside after the holiday. And those are the lucky ones. According to shelter president, Marcia Coburn, many face a much worse fate, such as being attacked by predators or facing disease.
Simply put, the rabbits we bring into our homes aren’t like the rabbits you might find hopping around your backyard. To “free” your pet rabbit is usually a cruel bunny death sentence.
But let’s say you’re set on getting a bunny. There are some basic things anybody considering getting a pet rabbit needs to know.
1. They’re an 8-12-year commitment.
When given proper care, rabbits can live up to 12 years. So before you go out and pick up a cute and fluffy friend, make sure you’re ready to give it the long-term love it needs.
2. You’ll need to find a veterinarian who deals with exotic pets like rabbits (obviously), ferrets, birds, and mice.
“The medicine is completely different for them from cats and dogs,” says Coburn. “Even some of the basic antibiotics they give cats and dogs can be fatal to a rabbit.” That’s why it’s important to find a vet who knows what they’re doing.
Oh, and it’s really important that you get your pet rabbit spayed or neutered.
3. They’re not exactly a great pet for little kids.
They don’t like being picked up, they get very territorial, and they might not be the best choice of pet if you’ve got young ones living at home. Which is just one reason why bringing home an Easter rabbit for your kids is just not the best idea.
4. You can’t keep rabbits caged up all the time at least you shouldn’t.
Yes, this means “bunny-proofing” your apartment, and yes, this means dedicating some time each day to the rabbit. “Rabbits are very social animals, and they need to interact with people down on the rabbit’s level,” Coburn adds.
5. They can’t live on carrots.
Rabbits need to have fresh hay and salads. When it comes to carrots, however, that should be an occasional treat. “Bugs Bunny really did not do rabbits a favor because everybody thinks [they eat carrots], but really, it’s the equivalent of us eating 20 Snickers bars,” says Coburn.
Shelters like Red Door do everything they can to save these lovable creatures, and the best thing you can do to help is to think long and hard about whether a rabbit is right for you before getting one.
They’re lovable creatures, and they deserve equally loving homes. Some peg the amount of rabbits purchased on Easter that end up being abandoned as high as 80%. Do your part and think through whether a rabbit is right for you before getting one.