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.
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
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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