photo courtesy of nblumhardt
by Whit Honea
Children love bunnies. They're soft and cute, with the tails and the ears and the way they squish their little noses. Okay, everyone loves bunnies, especially at Easter. And pet stores are stocking their shelves with a surplus of the fuzzy creatures. But sadly, many only make a brief stop in a loving home on Easter before going to an animal shelter cage.
Blame the frenzy on the Easter Bunny. He's fun and bouncy and has come to embody all things springtime. Plus, he appears to have an unlimited supply of candy. The truth is that real bunnies don't deliver eggs - or push cereal, chocolate milk or adult content - rather, they dig, claw and chew all the things you wish they wouldn't.
This isn't a knock on rabbits. They're animals and those animal behaviors are their thing. What isn't their thing is being held and cuddled by small children. Plus, they need to live indoors and out of their cage whenever possible. That can raise a lot of issues. Hence, the following five reasons for not buying your child a real rabbit for Easter:
1. Rabbits Will Chew EVERYTHING
Congratulations, you've got a rabbit. Now you need to rabbit-proof your house or every electical cord, sofa, book and toy within hopping distance is going to be mauled and it won't be pretty.
Let's not forget the safety of the bunny! Chewing an electrical cord is not advised. House plants can be toxic. Small toys can cause choking and harm the digestive track.
2. Rabbits Love Multiplication
We're not talking times tables. Rabbits are very social and do well in the company of other rabbits. Sometimes they do too well. Rabbits, like any pet, should be spayed or neutered.
Females that are spayed have a much greater chance of avoiding a host of cancers. Males that are neutered won't spray. All altered rabbits will be calmer, easier to train and less likely to fight or be aggressive. And you'll have a lot fewer rabbits!
3. Eh ... What's Up, Doc?
It's too bad that rabbits don't really survive on colorful cereal and chocolate milk since there's a decent chance that you're buying some of those products already (don't worry, we don't judge). Even carrots aren't as high on the suggested diet list as pop culture would have us believe.
What do they eat? Hay, and lots of it. Many experts suggest that you feed rabbits hay in unlimited supply. Granted, we're talking rabbits and not cows, but it still adds up. The other main food group for your rabbit is pellets, which is basically bunny chow and should only be fed in moderation. Like any manufactured pet food, there are different levels of quality and you get what you pay for.
4. The Straight Poop
Of course, what goes in must come out and the carpet is as good of a place as any. Luckily, there are other options. Many rabbits, especially those that have been spayed/nuetered, can be trained to use a litter box. Younger rabbits generally require a little more patience.
But picking the right kind of litter is very important. Many of the features people appreciate in cat litter, e.g., clumping, can actually kill a rabbit. Why? Because rabbits, apparently, eat litter. Go with a natural, wood-based litter.
Many rabbits also like sleeping in their litter box which isn't so much dangerous as just gross. To each their own.
5. Tell Me About the Rabbits
Rabbits have a life span of roughly 10 years (less if not altered), assuming they don't chew the power cord. The fact is that rabbits are pretty fragile and anything from a curious puppy to a heavy petting child can pose a real threat.
A high percentage of rabbits that are given as Easter gifts wind up in shelters or returned to pet stores. Many are euthanized or sold as food for reptiles.
This Easter you may want to consider a bunny made of chocolate. Or maybe some jelly beans.
If you would like more information on rabbit-proofing your life and the pros and cons thereof, please visit House Rabbit Society.
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Whit Honea is a Seattle-based writer with all kinds of blogs, awards and indie street cred. He has two little boys and a very understanding wife.