We are a multiple pet, multiple species home – three humans, three cats, two mice and a dog. That’s four different species, down from five when Lulu, our bunny was still with us.
Easter makes me think of Lulu but not in a happy way.
Like thousands of other bunnies, Lulu was originally purchased from a pet store before Easter. When the kids grew tired of her, she became a classroom bunny. At the end of the school year, she was passed off to another family who dumped her at a shelter a few weeks later. By the time she joined our family, she was stressed, traumatized, terrified of kids, and pretty much (excuse my language) had zero shits left to give. We later discovered she also had injuries to her spine, which were probably the result of being handled roughly (or maybe dropped) while living in the classroom.
But even with all the craziness in her early life, Lulu was still one of the lucky bunnies. During her time with us, she had her own room with her own stuff and lived life completely on her terms. We never kept her in a cage or forced her to interact with us or our other animals (she and Ruby eventually became friends). She lived with us for seven years, passing away during surgery to remove a tumor on her chest last May.
Why Pet Rabbits And Easter Don’t Mix
Rabbits are the third most popular pet in America and sadly, also one of the most abandoned. While the Easter Bunny makes a great bedtime story for children – for the thousands of rabbits and baby bunnies (not to mention chicks and ducklings) bred, sold, and later abandoned the holiday is anything but fun. In the weeks after Easter, shelters around the country are often inundated with unwanted baby rabbits. Even more tragic are the thousands “set free” or abandoned outside. Domestic rabbits lack the survival instincts of their wild relatives and often die from the elements or fall victim to predators like hawks, coyotes, etc. As many as 80% of rabbits and baby bunnies purchased in the weeks before Easter are later abandoned.
If you are unable or unwilling to provide a lifetime of care (potentially 10-12 years), PLEASE choose a chocolate bunny instead.
7 Things You Should Know Before Getting A Pet Rabbit
Rabbits are not good starter pets. Although rabbits and baby bunnies are adorable, they are not toys, holiday decorations or stuffed animals. Rabbits are way more complicated than dogs and cats, not kid-friendly and truthfully, kind of high maintenance.
Rabbits are prey animals and usually don’t like being picked up or cuddled. Rabbits instinctively feel threatened when lifted off the ground (think of a hawk swooping down) and can actually die of fear.
Rabbit skeletal systems are fragile and they injure easily. If they fall, are dropped, or picked up incorrectly they can kick out and break their backs.
Proper rabbit diet includes hay (timothy hay, grass hay, or a combination of both) and greens. Pellets were originally invented for breeders as an inexpensive way to fatten up their animals. For most bunnies, pellets are optional and should be more of a treat. Many of the commercial so-called rabbit food sold in pet stores ate unhealthy and often toxic. You can find more information on proper rabbit and bunny diet here.
Rabbits need exercise and socialization (on their level) and ideally, should NOT live in a cage full time. Like dogs and cats, domestic rabbits live happier, healthier and longer lives indoors safe from predators, parasites, poisonous plants, and weather related dangers. Rabbits are also social and enjoy being part of family life rather than isolated in a hutch outside. You can find more information on proper habitat for pet rabbits here.
Rabbits hide illness. By the time you see visible symptoms, your rabbit is likely in crisis. Bunny caretakers must be super vigilant about what their pet rabbits eat and make sure food is moving quickly and easily through their systems – AKA pooping a bunch. If your rabbit stops eating or pooping, they are probably headed for Gastrointestinal Stasis, a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely.
Rabbits are living, feeling, long-term commitments just like dogs and cats. They can live 10-12 years with good care. Lulu lived until 13 and we miss her like crazy and will definitely adopt another bunny at some point. You can read more about why I love bunnies here.
Pet rabbits are not for everyone and should only be adopted after careful consideration and never on impulse or as an Easter accessory. If you are unable or unwilling to provide a lifetime of care, please choose a chocolate bunny instead.