Spring is in the air, and now that Easter is here, it is time for one of the most useless and ultimately cruel rituals of the season: flocking to stores to buy bunnies as gifts for children. Last Easter, Laura Frisk summarized in great detail the problems associated with purchasing bunnies, including the fact that people take them home without understanding the animals’ needs. Animals simply never make good gifts.
But maybe you think that a rabbit is the right companion for you and your home. If that is the case, we have some advice for you as well: Please wait until a rabbit is available for adoption at a local animal shelter. You’ll have your pick from plenty of homeless rabbits, and you will be rescuing an abandoned animal instead of contributing to the cruel pet-trade industry.
Before you bring a rabbit home, consider the following facts on rabbits and make sure that you can fulfill your new companion’s needs.
Eager kids love to spend time with bunnies, but the attention span of children is short. Bunnies don’t react in the same manner that puppies and kittens do. As prey animals, rabbits don’t seek interactions; their instinct is to avoid them when possible. They do, however, like to play, and they will need plenty of toys in your home.
Little children may try to pick up small rabbits by the ears—this can cause serious pain and harm to the animal. You must teach children how to hold a bunny correctly so that the animal won’t jump away and suffer an injury such as a broken leg. (Their bones are quite weak, so breaks are common.) It is important, however, to socialize your rabbit because adult rabbits who are not socialized are a force to be reckoned with.
Unlike house cats, who will readily use a scratching post, rabbits are unable to trim down their own claws, so their claws must be clipped. This may prove challenging to a novice because rabbits must be held tight enough to restrain them, but not so tight that it causes them discomfort. While holding a rabbit in the correct manner, you must isolate the claw, find and avoid the quick, and clip the nail at just the right angle. Rabbits can squirm a lot, so this really presents a double challenge. You may want to consider visiting your local veterinarian for help.
Rabbits have veterinary needs that far surpass those of a dog or cat. They also have special needs when it comes to taking care of their teeth. Bunnies use their teeth for clipping and cutting as well as for chewing. In order to keep their teeth filed down in the wild, bunnies chew on all kinds of hard, tough stuff. But in your home, they will chew on anything from electrical cords to your wooden furniture. Keeping your rabbit’s teeth clipped and healthy while keeping your furniture intact can put you in a quandary (and can try the patience of even the most avid bunny lover).
Think that the above tasks are too challenging? Then perhaps an adopted bunny is not for you. There are many other adoptable animals in desperate need of a good home who may be a better fit for you.
Easter is a time to be kind … to all living beings. I hope that we all keep that in mind during this holiday season.
Have any of you ever adopted a rabbit?