With Easter around the corner everyone quickly turns to thoughts of pastel colours, chocolate (lots of chocolate), and those cute creatures with long ears. Yes, I am talking about rabbits. Many of my friends growing up had rabbits and as a kid I really wanted one too. They’re so cute and fluffy and small. So why wouldn’t they make a great pet for a kid?
It wasn’t till I was in high school working at a pet store that I found out why buying a rabbit for a child is not a good idea. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits require a lot of work. PETA explains why buying a rabbit on a whim is not a good idea: “These complex animals are often purchased on a whim, especially in the spring, and potential caretakers rarely understand the specific needs of their new companions. Once the novelty has worn off, many bunnies are neglected, relegated to outdoor cages, dumped at animal shelters, or simply turned loose in the wild, where they have little chance of surviving.”
So why shouldn’t you buy a rabbit this Easter?
Rabbits get easily scared
Kids have a lot of energy and can be loud. Rabbits are creatures that can be easily scared. The House Rabbit Society explains that rabbits are “ground-loving creatures who feel frightened and insecure when held and restrained.” When frightened rabbits go into a flight response, it can result in both the child and rabbit getting hurt. All this results in stress for rabbits which can develop into health problems later on.
It’s expensive to own a rabbit
You have to buy them a cage/home that is big enough for them to run around in or else they won’t get enough exercise. Remember their cage is their house and it should be a mansion not an apartment. Then comes the litter for the bottom of the cage, food dishes, toys to chew on so their teeth don’t get too long, and a hut for them to hide/sleep in. Don’t forget the food. Rabbits have a main diet of hay, and one bowl of bunny kibble a day.
And these are just the main things that rabbit owners buy. There is also treats, leashes and harnesses, litter boxes for easier clean up, brushes, carriers, hay baskets, and more. The initial costs without the extras mentioned can be anywhere between $200 to $300 (this includes the price of the rabbit as well). But the cost doesn’t stop there, items will need to be replaced and food will need to be replenished and then there are vet checkups resulting in an expense that doesn’t end.
Rabbits are high-maintenance
You can’t just stick them in a cage and be done with it. They need exercise, they need stimulation, and they need love. Taking care of a rabbit is equivalent to taking care of a dog or cat. Yes, you read that correctly, owning a rabbit is the same as owning a dog or cat, they need the same level of attention and care.
It’s hard to find a rabbit specific vet
There are five veterinary colleges in Canada which barely cover anything about rabbits specifically. Rabbits are usually placed under the small animal category which means most courses focusing on small animals cover multiple animals, not just rabbits. This means not many veterinarians are focusing on rabbit health. This is why the Hoppy Hearts Rabbit Rescue in the London area says “it is VERY important to find a veterinarian that is not only qualified but experienced in rabbit care and is rabbit savvy (because not all are).” So if you think that finding a rabbit vet is as easy as finding dog or cat vet, think again.
Owning a rabbit can be around a ten-year commitment and they should not be left solely under a child’s care. So this Easter, instead of buying a rabbit for your kid, stick to chocolate. It will cost less and still keep your child happy. Happy Easter!