Skip the Pet Store for Easter, Buy a Chocolate Bunny Rabbit  :  Published April 2007 All Rights Reserved


Skip the Pet Store for Easter, Buy a Chocolate Bunny Rabbit

With spring having arrived in the northern hemisphere, and the Christian celebration of Easter planned for 8 April 2007, there is one mistake parents make a thousand times over each year come Easter Sunday: Hand their children a fuzzy wuzzy live rabbit from a pet store.

In 2002 the Columbus, OH, House Rabbit Society chapter launched a campaign to turn parents away from rabbit ownership with an annual event titled Make Mine Chocolate for Easter Sunday.

In the best of circumstances –- if you do not anticipate still owning that pet store rabbit on Easter Sunday in the year 2020, then buy chocolate for your children instead.

For whatever reason, pet rabbits have long been the subjects of myth: Rabbits lack intelligence; rabbits prefer cage settings; rabbits fear all living beings… As more adults have adopted rabbits as household pets they quickly learn the bunny rabbit is more akin to an independent child than a mammal and he desires to be part of the family. Rabbits require more patience and understanding than cats or dogs, thus they are labeled “exotic pets.” Rabbits require your complete attention and do become depressed from loneliness and boredom.
Pet Store Bunny Rabbit
House rabbits require safe spaces to roam, hop, and dance, and they require special care that children --despite popular opinion-- are not educated enough to understand.

The disconnect occurs when parents buy a bunny as an Easter gift with the idea the rabbit can live in a cage, which is the recipe for disaster as any local animal shelter can attest. As is often the case – those live Easter rabbits mature and grow agitated living in a cage 24-hours a day so they can and do fight back against the host family, bite, scratch, and do anything to break free. The rabbit’s actions upset the host family and they in turn regret the pet store purchase.

The House Rabbit Society suggests giving of chocolate rabbits saves rescuing those live rabbits host families inevitably turn loose in parks and deserted highways in the months of May and June.

The Make Mine Chocolate website offers a questionnaire parents can check-off before running to the nearest pet shop and picking up a rabbit for their children. House rabbits (provided they are cared for) have a life expectancy of more than 10 years. ("Are you willing to care for the rabbit during the natural life span indoors?" The website asks.) In all likelihood, even if the child wants a rabbit for Easter, the parents must be ready and able to take on the responsibility for rabbit care as the child ages and changes his/her interests.

Trust is key to rabbit ownership

To be a model rabbit owner you must prepare to spend many hours laying on the ground (in the rabbit’s world) and have patience for the bonding process, and understand that the rabbit has his own agenda whether you are present or not.

Rabbit medical care costs for the lifetime of the bunny rival that of cats. It is a given that house rabbits should be spayed or neutered for their own health and well-being. (Before that time however be prepared for some wild times.) Rabbits are sensitive to household chemicals, they require careful dietary monitoring, and they are susceptible to hairballs and other digestive track problems, which could lead to premature death. (Unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit.) Rabbits require regular brushing, nail clipping, sometimes ongoing dental care, and are prone to eyesight issues as they age. Blindness is not uncommon in older rabbits.

They are not to be chased, spanked, or physically scolded for what humans believe to be wrong doing. Some rabbits never do get used to being picked up or handled above ground -- and that risk must be okay with the host family before adoption.  

There are benefits of course to rabbit adoption – once you’ve bonded with your rabbit (they trust you) the bunny is a curious creature by nature and some can become more affectionate than cats with their owners. To a rabbit owner there is no greater pleasure than having the bunny show he trusts by attempting to groom you. There is an old saying about trust and rabbits…if a bunny thumps and runs away from someone – you should too.

When the living environment is not threatening, rabbits can be more sociable than dogs. As many rabbit owners will attest however, each bunny has his or her own personality; some will become possessive of their owners and play pranks in order to get attention.

While rabbits are not dirty pets, rabbits are not as tidy as most dogs. As cats are prone to leave wet messes in one’s house,  bunnies love to scatter hay, will leave droppings lying about, and they are not always neat with their litter box. Rabbits can be trained for a lead to go outside with the supervision of the owner.

Adapt to the bunny or no dice

The House Rabbit Society also suggests that if you are not willing to incorporate a rabbit into the daily routine of the family (or center the family's life around the rabbit's needs) that parents should strongly reconsider adopting a rabbit. While hutches remain a popular way for which to house a rabbit, this is really a pet store’s marketing gimmick. The human mindset of creating a rabbit-safe environment in the home corrects a lot of the issues mentioned already. Climate controlled indoor service porches, kitchens, spare washrooms, or a spare bedroom make for perfect rabbit rooms if semi-confinement is necessary.

Pet gates work remarkably well in keeping a rabbit in a confined space as needed; however, confinement should not be the permanent goal especially after spaying and/or neutering.

More and more rabbit owners allow their pets the run of (or partial run of) the house. As long as the premises are rabbit proofed, and other pets pose no safety hazard, rabbits will make for a trainable and very pleasurable exotic family member.

Just be aware that fuzzy wuzzy ‘awe shucks’ cute-as-can-be bunny rabbit is a huge responsibility that likely extends well into the next decade. If the potential owner is not prepared for that commitment then chocolate bunnies serve you best the House Rabbit Society concludes.

To read more about rabbits
visit House Rabbit Society http://www.rabbit.org/

Make Mine Chocolate http://www.makeminechocolate.org/

For those in New York City visit the Yahoo! Group (nycbuns) http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/nycbuns/


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