Easter is right around the corner and lots of cute rabbits will fill pet stores and online ads. The temptation might be too much for some, but taking on a rabbit is a huge commitment and here are 10 reasons why getting a rabbit for Easter is a bad idea.
Rabbits aren’t good pets for young children
Rabbits bite and scratch and have powerful back legs that really hurt if they kick you. They don’t like being picked up either, so there goes the idea of having a cuddly bunny! When rabbits reach sexual maturity, their behaviour will change dramatically if they aren’t neutered and will spray urine, growl and even lunge and bite. Getting your rabbit neutered is so important, not only for health reasons, but for behaviour too! Rabbits need lots of time, care and cleaning out, which is why children cannot be expected to take care of them on their own. This means it’s down the the parent to make sure the rabbits are being taken care of correctly.
They need lots of space
Most pet stores sell cages and hutches, but most don’t sell any that are big enough. The RWAF (The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund) recommends a minimum hutch requirement of 6′ x 2′ x 2′ with an attached run, so you will need to research hutches before bringing bunnies home. Most hutches at pet shops are made of flimsy wood meaning they will leak and not last. This means you will have to make lots of adaptations for the colder weather to make sure they stay warm. The hutch needs to be strong, with thick mesh and locks to keep it fox proof as foxes can break in to weak hutches and they can also dig underneath runs too.
Rabbits are smart creatures and need lots of toys to keep them busy and entertained. If you are thinking of keeping them indoors, you will have to rabbit proof your home and wires and furniture can be destroyed by rabbits. They can be messy and you will need to clean them out every day, even when you are tired or if it’s raining outside.
Rabbits need company
Although most pet stores will be happy to sell you a rabbit on their own, rabbits need company of their own kind. Until you have two and see them interact, groom and snuggle up, you won’t realise how much happier they are in pairs. Both rabbits need to be neutered, vaccinated and health checked by the vet which means double the cost. In the wild, rabbits live in complex social structures, so keeping them on their own is alien to them, and whilst it won’t kill them to live on their own, it isn’t fair on a social animal to be kept alone.
On the flip side, a pet shop may sell you two rabbits, but they could have been sexed incorrectly, meaning your rabbits could breed and you could end up with lots of rabbits. The male will mate with the female as soon as she has given birth, which could mean you are overrun with rabbits very quickly! The baby males and females need to be split when old enough and again, if not sexed correctly, could mate again making the numbers increase.
Rabbits can reach 10 years of age
Rabbits live between 6-10 years, depending on the breed. 10 years is a long time to own a pet. Will you still have the time for rabbits in 5 years? What about 10? They are a huge, expensive commitment and should not be purchased on a whim.
They are complex animals
Do you know what diet they should be on? (Hint – it’s not carrots). Did you know that they are classed as exotic animals, so you will need to find a vet who specialises in rabbits as not all vets know how to treat them. Although they may not have initially cost much at the pet shop, they can end up costing hundreds of pounds to care for. A decent hutch and run will be a few hundred pounds, then there is the cost of vaccinating, neutering as well as the food bills. Rabbits are not cheap or easy pets to have as there are lots of health issues they can have which costs a lot of money to treat.
You are contributing to already overflowing rescues
If you cannot keep your rabbits for the rest of lives, it raises the question of what to do with them. Free ads are a gamble as they might get a nice home, or they may not. Setting them free is a death sentence. Having them put to sleep isn’t only morally wrong, but most vets will refuse to euthanize a healthy animal. This leaves rescue centres and whilst many could argue this is what rescues are for, each rescue only has limited space and cannot take every single animal they are asked to take. Some will have waiting list, so you may end up holding on to that rabbit for a long time. Most rescues dread the months following Easter as this is when the novelty wears off and bunnies are dumped on their doorstep.
This Easter, stick to cuddly toys and chocolate, however, if you really want rabbits do your research and wait until after Easter when the bunny hype has died down. Rabbits make wonderful pets, but should not be given as Easter gifts, neither should chicks or ducklings.