It’s that time of year again… when parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles think it would be “cute” to get their child an easy to manage holiday-themed pet! Do you think a bunny would make the perfect gift for Easter? Well, I’m here to tell you DON’T do it, unless you are fully prepared to care for these delicate, living creatures.
As a bunny mom myself, I will be the first person to advise against getting a pet bunny unless you are willing to give it what it needs. In many ways, rabbits need more care than a dog or a cat.
While you can potty-train your bunny easily with a litter box, it also needs to be cleaned more often than a cat’s box. And kitty litter is an absolute no-no–It can be toxic to rabbits!
Plan on sticking your new bun in a cage? Think again! It is inhumane to keep your rabbit confined to a cage. Rabbits need plenty of space and run time. A decent-sized pen is more appropriate, like this one or this one. Even still, you need to interact with your rabbit and let him explore outside of his/her enclosure. Also, outside hutches and cages with wire bottoms are not a solution. Rabbits are too vulnerable to weather conditions and predators outside. Not providing a smooth surface for your bun’s feet will damage them. I recommend a small area rug or mat to put under your rabbit’s pen.
As for food, rabbits need unlimited amounts of hay, which is crucial to the majority of their diet. They require up to 2-cups of leafy greens a day and a small amount of grass-based pellets. Treats like carrots, banana and apple should be limited and given in small pieces.
Rabbits aren’t as warm and cuddly as you think, either. Some buns can be downright aggressive, especially if improperly handled. Rabbits are prey animals, which makes them easy to scare. Most rabbits hate to be held, even if they’ve established a relationship with you. My rabbit tolerates me picking him up only if it is necessary. If I abuse the power too often, he will give me the cold shoulder. He literally will hide or turn his back to me when I am in the room.
Rabbits will bite and scratch when threatened or frightened. You need to respect their space, boundaries and learn to read their body language. Children aren’t usually the best companion for a sensitive bunny. Their mere energetic presence could frighten a rabbit.
As for other care, rabbits need regular vet check-ups, their nails clipped, things to chew to keep their teeth short (bunny teeth never stop growing), and when out roaming your house, they need to be watched constantly. Rabbits are naturally curious and will “taste” things by chewing on baseboards, doors, furniture, wires… these things can not only be bad for your bun, but quite destructive to your home.
All that said, if you are prepared to respect a rabbit’s needs and give it the love and patience it requires, by all means please adopt a bun from a local rescue. If you are not prepared to take care of a rabbit for 8-12 years, then just don’t.
My rabbit, Zuko, is a rescued bunny believed to be a discarded Easter present. The rescue I got him from in Nashville found him cowering in a parking garage unable to fend for himself. Zuko has major trust issues, but has learned to rely on me in the 3 years we’ve been together. He is a lot of work, but also my pride and joy. He loves when his head and ears are stroked and when I have conversations with him.
Remember to never dump a domesticated rabbit outside — they don’t know how to take care of themselves and you are leaving them utterly defenseless. If you must get rid of a pet, take them to an animal rescue that can find a good home.