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Easter is the worst for rabbits

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Rob Adamic

Easter is just a few days away and families are stocking up on candy, eggs, and baskets full of fake grass.  There will also be lots of bunny decorations and stuffed animals.  Some families will take it a step farther though and get a real rabbit as a pet.  This isn’t always the best idea.

“For people who aren’t doing their homework, rabbits aren’t really what they bargained for,” said Anne Martin, the executive director of The House Rabbit Society in Richmond.  “A lot of these rabbits end up unwanted …abandoned …in animal shelters and at risk of euthanasia.”  That’s because people often think of rabbits as Easter decorations and not as living breathing creatures.  They don’t realize the amount of responsibility that comes with owning a rabbit.

One of those responsibilities is feeding the rabbit.  Contrary to popular belief, rabbits really shouldn’t eat many carrots.  There is too much sugar in carrots and this can lead to the rabbit becoming overweight or even diabetic.  Rabbits should be fed fresh greens, a small amount of pellets, and lots of hay(Timothy or Orchard).  They also need plenty of fresh water.

Rabbits need lots of attention, but they like it on their own terms, similar to a cat.  They’re not like dogs who constantly want to play.  Rabbits like to lounge around for hours and often don’t like to be picked up.   However, they also like to be included in family time and can become depressed if they don’t get enough attention.  The best practice is to keep your bunny in an area where there will be interaction from family members throughout the day.

Your bunny should live indoors not outside.  While wild rabbits can do just fine outside, domesticated rabbits don’t have the tools to survive.  There are many plants outside that rabbits shouldn’t eat.  Wild rabbits tend to avoid these plants where as pet bunnies don’t have the instincts to avoid poisonous wild mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, almonds, and many other dangerous items.  Rabbits living outside are often attacked by other animals, many of which are predators, like cats, possums, owls, hawks, and dogs.  Rabbits also have a tendency to dig under fences and get lost in neighbors’ backyards.  The garage isn’t a good place for a rabbit either due to the fluctuating temperature and the car fumes that tend to collect there.  Rabbits should be kept inside the house, not in a small cage, but in a dog exercise pen so they have room to move and play.

Many of the young children that are given rabbits aren’t capable of taking care of them so that responsibility falls on their parents.  Even when a child does take good care of their rabbit, there is still a long term commitment that many aren’t capable of making.  “Rabbits are wonderful companions but they live eight to twelve [or even] sometimes as long as 14 or 15 years” warns Martin.  Within that span of time, a child may become less interested in the rabbit or even go off to college which leaves the family to care for the rabbit.  Adopting a rabbit should be a decision made by the whole family.

Rabbits are a bit mischievous and love to explore.  If left alone in the house, they will look around and end up in odd places like closets, shelves, and behind curtains.  They also love to chew on things like wooden furniture and wires.  Wires are especially dangerous because the rabbit could be electrocuted.  Before getting a rabbit, one should consider what it will take to bunny proof their home.

Since rabbits aren’t as common of a pet as dogs and cats, veterinary visits can be more expensive.  Rabbits also have a much more delicate body so surgeries can be much more difficult.  On average, it costs around $700 a year to have a pet rabbit.  A good vet who specializes in rabbits can be hard to find.  Anyone thinking about getting a bunny should figure out where the closest rabbit vet is before adopting one.  

There are quite a few positives to owning a rabbit.  Bunnies are hypoallergenic so they make great pets for people who are allergic to other animals like cats.  They also are extremely quiet so there won’t be any noise complaints from neighbors.  Rabbits can quickly be litter trained; even if they miss the box, their droppings are some of the easiest to clean up.  They also don’t need to be walked or even bathed.  Rabbits clean themselves and bathing them unnecessarily can actually be harmful.  Rabbits are also very loving and each have their own distinct personality.
 
 “At Easter time we really encourage people to do homework before considering adding a rabbit to their household,” said Martin.  Rabbits can make great loving pets, people just need to understand that they aren’t disposable stuffed animals and that there is a real commitment involved.

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Easter is the worst for rabbits