I'm going to jump on my soap box for this post. If you've been to the bottom of the homepage at eebeads.com, you'll see a banner that says "Easter and Bunnies Don't Mix". If you click on it, you'll get a page from the House Rabbit Society telling you why buns make a bad choice for kids at Easter.
Allen and I have the second house rabbit we've owned and his name is Domino. Let me start with the joys of owning this, and any other house rabbit. Once they're fixed, they're wonderfully loving, frisky and calm all in the same day. They're pretty easy to litter train (yes, they use litter boxes just like cats, but not cat litter). They can run, jump around and flip around (called binking) and then they'll settle down next to you. It's just the greatest feeling to be sitting on the floor and Domino will come up next to you and flop down for his petting...and talk about soft and snuggly...it just doesn't get any better than that.
Well, this sounds great! Why wouldn't I advocate getting a bun for a child at Easter? Here comes the bad part. Most house rabbits are quite fearfull of children. No matter if you tell your child to be quiet and calm around the rabbit (a must) you probably know that children are frisky and rarely calm. Even around adults, rabbits can be quite skittish (as Domino is). Another problem with kids is that children always want pick rabbits up and "cuddle" them. Rabbits are prey animals and feel trapped when picked up. The only time I pick Domino up is for a trip to the vet. And speaking of vets...if you get a baby rabbit, it'll eventually go into heat and you will have a frisky, biting, spraying (marking) bunny on your hands. Spaying (for females) will cost you a minimum of $200 (males are cheaper) and then do you even HAVE a rabbit savvy vet in your area? They're really hard to find...trust me. Spaying and neutering is just the beginning. Rabbits can have all types of illnesses...when we got Domino, he had an ear infection and required injections, that we had to give every day. Domesticated rabbits can't be kept outside in a hutch. They just can't handle the different temperature changes as well as other animals. And if left outside...they will eventually be forgotten (Domino was found abandoned and loose in a caring families yard that caught him and took him to the shelter). How will your bun jump, run and play if left outside in a tiny hutch? House rabbits can be kept in a big cage (larger than what the average pet store sells, Domino has a two story large dog kennel) for most of the day, but need playtime in the morning and evening. A minimum of 2 hours twice a day for them to run around a rabbit safe room or rooms. Rabbit safe you ask? Yep, they'll chew on all your cords and cables (so they have to be covered), they'll chew on wood furniture, dig on rugs and bedding. You've got to make the rooms safe and then supervise the rabbit when out. Rabbits can live about 10 years or longer, are you ready for that type of commitment?
A great option if you decide to get a house rabbit is to find a local rabbit shelter. There are House Rabbit Societies all around the country if you can't find a local shelter. We were lucky to have The Rabbit Habit shelter about 10 minutes from our home where we were introduced to, and chosen by, Domino.
I'm certainly NOT saying you shouldn't get a rabbit. Rabbits are my absolute favorite pet. When our first rabbit died, Allen and I discussed getting a dog (now that we owned a house) and opted for another rabbit. If you get one for your child, know that YOU, not the child has to be resposible for it's welfare. I touched on a few things, but the best site for information is the House Rabbit Society's website. That site will give you ALL the information you need.
Whew. Okay I said it. If you have to get a rabbit for your child this Easter, read the above links and consider getting a rabbit from a local shelter. Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a comment below and this year for your child, make your bunny a stuffed toy or a tasty chocolate one. Happy Easter!
p.s. A couple weeks later: I thought I was a bit harsh in this posting, but then I went on craigslist.org and just in the Philadelphia area (where I live) there were HUNDREDS of unwanted rabbits listed for free or for sale...just something to think about...I wish I could take them all in.