Many cherished Easter traditions, from the Easter bunny to decorating and hunting for eggs, have been around for centuries. Let’s begin with the infamous Easter Bunny. The exact origin of this mythical mammal is unclear. There’s no story in the Bible about a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature. Nor is there a passage about young children painting eggs or hunting for baskets overflowing with delicious Easter goodies. And real rabbits certainly don’t lay eggs. However rabbits, because they are prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. Easter eggs are linked back to centuries of traditions. The egg, also an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.
Fast forward to this century and now people buy rabbits for their children for Easter, many of whom do not even know the history behind these long eared lagomorphs. Our culture is filled with images of children and rabbits, so many parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before you fill your Easter basket with a live bunny, find out what is involved with caring for this complicated animal companion.
Did you know?
- Rabbits can live ten or more years. That cute bunny you’re thinking of buying for your child on Easter could still be around long after your child has grown into a teen. Should the novelty wear off, you’ll have an adult rabbit in the house who needs your care and attention every day for the next decade or longer.
- They require as much involved, long-term care, and management as a dog or cat.
- Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile animals. They must be handled with care. This makes them inappropriate for families with young children. Adults should be the primary caregiver.
- We all know that children are energetic and loving, but “loving” to a small child means holding, cuddling, or carrying an animal around. These are precisely the things that frighten rabbits.
- Rabbits can’t cry out when distressed. Instead, they may start to scratch or bite to protect themselves from well-meaning children.
- Many rabbits are accidentally dropped by children, resulting in broken legs and broken backs. This is not as uncommon as you would think.
- Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. -They have very specific dietary and housing needs.
- Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies are abandoned to shelters or thrown into the wild each year when their novelty wears off.
- They require specialized veterinary care and they must be spayed or neutered.
- Rabbits can be messy, so you’ll need to clean their enclosure at least twice weekly.
- They require regular brushings to remove excess hair and keep their coat in good condition.
- Companion rabbits should live indoors with their human family. Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today that is not the case. A backyard hutch forces these social animals to live in unnatural isolation. Rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator. They are prone to overheating as well.
- They may be small, but rabbits require a lot of room for housing and exercise
- Rabbits need exercise for several hours EVERY day. They are designed for running & jumping!
- Annual cost of one rabbit per year is $730
If your family member has their mind set on getting a rabbit, and you have discussed all of the facts listed above, get a book on rabbit care. Do your research and homework first. Then you can make an informed and well educated decision. If children know what is involved and how high maintenance rabbits or bunnies really are, but are still begging you for a rabbit after the holiday has passed, hop over to the House Rabbit Society for information on bunny rescue groups to find out how to adopt the rabbit (or even better, a bonded pair) of their furry dreams.
Learn the details of what is involved with companion rabbit care HERE.