Rabbits make wonderful pets. They’re affectionate and playful, and can be easily litter trained. Our little dude turned 6 in February, and he brings us SO much joy! But I get so upset when people think a rabbit is an appropriate Easter gift. They’re not a toy – they’re a 10 year commitment, and they need a lot of love! I want to remind people they they they deserve to be loved for a lifetime, and not just a long weekend. So while there are bucketloads of benefits to owning a rabbit, here are my top 5 reasons for why they shouldn’t be an impulse purchase this Easter:
1. Rabbits have a lifespan of 10-12 years. This is really important to consider, because if they’re cared for properly, and manage to avoid any serious health complications, they could happily stick around for up to 12 years. This is a big commitment, and plenty of people don’t realise they can live that long!
2. They’re not low maintenance. They need to be spayed/neutered, receive yearly vaccinations, plus they need regular grooming and nail clipping. Health problems can occur quickly, and you must be near a small animal vet, as regular vets don’t have the knowledge required to treat rabbits. Health problems can also be expensive! We were forced to have Biscuit’s incisors removed (poor gummy bunny!), as they were diseased and causing him pain, which is a common problem for rabbits – and did not come cheap.
3. Your house needs to be bunny-proofed, as they will happily chew everything. And don’t ignore this because you plan on keeping it outdoors – rabbits are social animals, and they should live indoors as members of the family. Biscuit lives in a hutch on our balcony, but it’s open whenever we’re home and he roams inside the apartment (only the bedroom is off limits – he knows this, and likes to sit on the threshold staring longingly at the crawl space under the bed!). If you have to keep it outside, then you need to ensure they get daily exercise in a room or enclosed pen.
4. Rabbits are prey animals, and can give themselves a heart attack if in danger. This is particularly important to note if you want it for a child, whose “loving” actions of cuddling and carrying it around are the same actions that will frighten a rabbit, causing it to bite, scratch, or hurt itself. It is also why we had to ‘bird-proof’ Biscuit’s cage, so they couldn’t see him and swoop close enough to scare him.
5. They have complicated dietary requirements – including NO lettuce, and carrot only as a treat! Despite what Bugs has you believing, carrots are high in sugar and should only be fed as an occasional treat, not as part of a rabbit’s staple diet. And lettuce will leave you with a pretty gross litter tray to deal with! There are plenty of lists available online, which we still consult when we’re unsure, as plenty of fruits & veggies can play havoc with a rabbits’ digestive system. But they need fresh veggies daily, so make sure you’ve accounted for the additional cost to your grocery shops.
Look, there are plenty of people who purchase rabbits for their children, and who keep them outside, and I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing – I had 3 rabbits as a child, and they all lived outside. But they were all traumatised by wild animals in different ways, and I definitely didn’t get to experience the best parts of owning a rabbit. I didn’t get to know their unique personalities, or see any binkies, or have them run around my feet every time I opened the fridge! The only way to experience that is to keep them as indoor animals, and to love them like a member of your own family.
So this Easter, buy your bunnies in chocolate form!