By Jacqui Dziak
It is that time of year again, and it is undeniable. If you walk into any store, be prepared to be greeted with all things bunny- bunny towels, bunny bowls, bunny dishes and mugs, stuffed bunnies- even bunny toys for Fido. Bunnies get a lot of attention at Easter, and they soar to the top of the “I want one!” pets. But before you run out to get a cute baby bun for your kids or yourself, please consider the following.
Baby bunnies, or kits, quickly grow into full-sized rabbits. If you are enamored with that sweet tiny bun that fits in the palm of your hand, know that Thumper will quickly grow into a larger rabbit and not necessarily want to be cuddled. Many Rabbits don’t particularly like being picked up. They may feel frightened or insecure when they are held or restrained. Rabbits are curious creatures and prefer it if you allow them to come to you. Because of this, it is best to get on the floor at their level to interact. Getting on the floor brings you back to childhood, and bunny playtime is fun time.
It’s true for people and it’s true for bunnies – the “teenage” period can be rough. When rabbits reach sexual maturity, they will likely be very messy. They will dig and chew, and may spray until they get spayed or neutered. Getting your bun “fixed” is very important, not only for the obvious reason, but it will make your bunny calmer and dramatically reduce the risk of cancers. The good news is that when you adopt a rabbit from the Pasadena Humane Society, they will be spayed and neutered before you bring them home. Once your rabbit is spayed or neutered, it is also easier to litter train – yes, rabbits can be litter trained!
Many people believe that rabbits can live in a cage or outdoor hutch. But rabbits confined to the outdoors become depressed and bored from isolation, and it also denies you all the joy of sharing your life with this sensitive, intelligent, and social critter. Rabbit kept outdoors also do not have as long a life span as a house rabbit. Indoor cages, depending on size, can also restrict rabbits when they need plenty of room to run, explore, and play. A good rule of thumb is to allow space enough for your bun to take a couple of hops in any direction and be able to stand. An X-pen is a good choice, and makes it easy for you to clean their area.
Rabbits are sensitive critters and need a lot of careful attention. Rabbits cannot be left alone for long periods of time, and certainly not for days at a time. Rabbits need their litter changed every day, fresh timothy hay, fresh greens and fresh water. Rabbits also require several hours of exercise each day. You will have to bunny proof your house because rabbits are natural chewers and will likely chew on electrical cords, rugs, furniture, and anything that looks interesting to chomp on. Giving your rabbit good things to chew on (rabbit friendly toys, apple wood, hay!) and exercise will reduce your rabbit’s “need” to chew on household items.
Rabbits are also the most abandoned pets, and in the weeks after Easter, the number of abandoned rabbits soar. Sadly, another misconception is that pet rabbits can be set free to fend for themselves, when in fact these rabbits lack the survival instincts of their wild cousins. Abandoning a rabbit is often a death sentence. Setting rabbits loose does not make them free, it makes them food. If you can no longer care for your rabbit, please bring them to the shelter where they will have a chance to bring joy in a new home.
And finally, if you have a fear of commitment, a rabbit may not be the pet for you. Most people guess that a pet rabbit will live two or three years. In fact, a well-cared for house rabbit can live 10+ years! That is a lot of hay, and happily, countless binkies in your future.
If you are caught up with all the bunny cuteness around this Easter and are considering an Easter bunny of your own – but aren’t ready for the long term commitment of having one as a pet, opt for the chocolate kind. If you think that you are the perfect rabbit-person, regardless of season, then please adopt. Do not buy a rabbit on Craig’s list, from a pet store, or from a breeder. There are many adorable rabbits in our shelter and trust us, once you see a bunny butt, witness a bunny flip in the air, or see a sweet bunny yawn, you will fall in love!