Every year when Easter rolls around, many kids and parents consider the idea of getting a rabbit as an Easter gift. It makes sense, the Easter Bunny is a huge part of the celebration and rabbits are so adorable. But what many people who have never owned a rabbit don’t realize is they are actually a huge responsibility. Often the public assumes rabbits are a simple pet that sit in a cage all day like a mouse or hamster. But bunnies are more similar to cats (and even dogs) in regards to their exercise requirements, care needs, and vet costs. In addition, they have special needs that their own will have to address with regards to food, litter boxes, house wide bunny proofing, and day to day care.
Rabbits should never be purchased or given as a gift on a whim. Like other big family decisions, you should fully research the responsibilities and costs that come with a pet rabbit and make sure everyone in the household understand and agrees to those responsibilities before you add a rabbit to your home. Rabbits make a fantastic pet, but you need to know what you’re getting into when you buy one. Here are the top reasons not to get a pet bunny for Easter.
7 Reasons Not to Buy a Bunny for Easter
1. Most Rabbits are Surrendered or Abandoned After Easter
In the months after Easter, shelters are flooded with surrendered bunnies from owners who didn’t realize what they were getting into. Often children get bored as their cute baby bunnies grow into adults or parents didn’t realize how destructive the rabbit’s chewing habits would be.
Rabbits are the third most popular pet, but also the third most euthanized pet in the USA after dogs and cats. (Check out these stats on rabbits in shelters from the House Rabbit Society to learn more.) Even worse, some people will dump their rabbits in woods or empty fields assuming they can survive. This is a death sentence for domesticated rabbit breeds that have none of the skills needed to survive in the wild. Do not add to this alarming trend and dangerous trend.
2. Rabbits are Expensive Pets
Over the course of their lifetime, you’ll spend as much as you would on a pet dog. In addition to the “start-up” costs of cages and other supplies, rabbits require fresh vegetables and rabbit pellets daily, as well as destroyable toys. Many owners estimate they spend almost $1000 a year on their bun. And if your rabbit has health issues or emergencies, they can become even more costly as a proper exotics vet that treats rabbits is harder to find and often more expensive.
3. Rabbits Live as Long as Dogs & Cats
The average age range of most rabbits is between 8 and 14 years. That’s a long-term commitment that requires more thought than a passing thought. Your child may quickly outgrow the rabbit, leaving you with a pet to care for when they head off to college. If you’re not ready for that kind of long-term commitment, you are not ready for a pet bunny.
4. Rabbits Have to Spayed or Neutered
For their health and to curtail aggressive behaviors, rabbits need to be fixed when they reach sexual maturity. Most rabbits sold for Easter are too young to be spayed or neutered, so that responsibility falls on the new pet owner. This is not optional, especially for female rabbits who have a 60% chance of uterine cancer after the age of three (learn more)). Be prepared to pay up to $250 for this procedure at an exotic vet.
5. Rabbits Don’t Like to Cuddle
Rabbits are prey animals, which greatly informs their behaviors. They easily startle and do not like loud noises. Often the natural behavior of rambunctious children can terrify a rabbit. They will run and hide, living in constant fear. Bunnies also don’t like being picked up or cuddled. They will struggle to try and get away, possibly scratching their owner or even injuring themselves. It takes patience and time to help your rabbit learn to trust you and become comfortable with being picked up.
Bunnies need to be approached and loved on their own terms. If you’re considering a rabbit for a child who just wants a bun to cuddle and fawn over like a toy, a stuffed animal is a much better choice.
6. Rabbits Need Out of Cage Time
Many people just picture their rabbit sitting in a cage all day and while an appropriately sized cage is a good home base for a bun, they do best with lots of out of cage time. If your rabbit isn’t going to be free-range, then you need to be able to provide 30 hours of out of cage running time per week in a rabbit-proofed space or exercise pen.
7. Rabbits Chew–On Everything
Because they have ever-growing teeth, rabbits need to chew to keep them worn down. As a result, baseboards, furniture, power cords, books, and other items are often “customized” by these little pets. To own a rabbit means not only providing safe wood and toys to chew on, but rabbit proofing their play areas to keep them away from toxic and dangerous items. (Learn about how to stop rabbits from chewing to decide if you can handle this side of rabbit ownership.)
Easter Gift Alternatives to Pet Rabbits
There are plenty of other fun and festive ways to include rabbits in your Easter festivities without getting a pet rabbit. Make Mine Chocolate is a campaign started to inform the public about the responsibilities of rabbit ownership and discourage the gifting of pet bunnies on Easter. Check them out for more information and to join the cause. But their idea is the first on our list:
The best bunnies to give on Easter are the candy kind! Chocolate rabbits are a longstanding Easter tradition and a tasty alternative to a pet rabbit. Tuck one or two into an Easter basket to celebrate the holiday.
This is a great alternative for young children who really want a bunny of their own. Stuffed animals are cute and cuddly and require no care or further expenses!
Rabbit Themed Gifts
You can even get creative with your rabbit gifting, by giving other rabbit-themed gifts like t-shirts, mugs, or jewelry. Check out our article on bunny gifts for tons of ideas.
The cartoons on this page are from Make Mine Chocolate.