Before you think about adopting a rabbit, especially during Easter time, here are a few things you should know. Sadly, according to the House Rabbit Society, many people purchase bunnies during the Easter season and then surrender them to an animal shelter soon after Easter.
Well-meaning parents will purchase an adorable bunny as an Easter gift for their children. However, rabbits do better as a pet for an adult. They need someone who has a long term commitment to their needs and is able to take the time to get to know the rabbit on their own terms. Due to the fact that rabbits can live 10+ years if taken care of properly, giving a rabbit as a pet for just a child to take care of would not be a good idea. Children can be inconsistent in their care and will lose interest very quickly. Changes to a rabbit’s feeding, cleaning, and exercise habits are stressful and can lead to illness. A child’s natural exuberance and activity level are also stressful for most rabbits. In adopting a rabbit, parents will need to actively support their child in the care of that rabbit.
Rabbits aren’t like dogs or cats. They aren’t as friendly, nor as trusting, as one would expect. Generally they do not like being held or cuddled, though once trust is gained, they might like being gently petted or burrow into their owner, all while on the ground, of course. Since they are prey animals, they often panic when being picked up or handled; this can result in the rabbit biting or scratching to get away. If rabbits feel threatened by children who do not understand the rabbits’ boundary space, they may bite, box, or lunge at a child.
Lastly, if you’re planning on adopting a rabbit, please consider adopting from a shelter or a rescue group. These rabbits need a great home and many of them get euthanized because they can’t find a good pet parent.
For more information, please check out the San Diego Chapter of the House Rabbit Society so that you know what it takes to be a rabbit caretaker! https://rabbit.org/
Lera Hill is a junior at Coronado High School, working towards her Girl Scout Gold Award on animal conservation and welfare. She is currently working with the local animal conservation group Zovargo to build an outdoor rabbit habitat and is working to educate the public about important animal issues.