The Star-Herald

Just say ‘no’ to the Easter Bunny

With Easter approaching in just a few short weeks, there are many of you who are surely attempting to find the perfect Easter gift for your children and loved ones.  Images of furry bunnies and soft downy ducks and chicks are all over the television, on advertisements in the paper and on the web. And as spring approaches, these little guys are increasingly available for purchase from local farms and retailers.  

But should you buy a live animal as an Easter gift for your children or loved one?  

While it might seem like a cute and fun gift idea, sure to bring lots of smiles on Easter morning, the Central Aroostook Humane Society encourages you to do your research first.  

(Courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics)

One of the most common live animal gifts given on Easter is of course an “Easter bunny.” Who could resist the fluffy fur, long velvety ears and pom-pom tail?  Rabbits really do make wonderful household pets, but according to the Humane Society of the United States; behind cats and dogs, rabbits are the animal most frequently surrendered to animal shelters across our country.

We recommend you take the following into consideration before bringing a rabbit into your home:

Many people think the average lifespan of a rabbit is two to three years.  However, a well-cared-for rabbit can live 7-10 years. This is not unlike many breeds of dogs.  Be ready for a long-term commitment when considering a rabbit as a pet.

Rabbits are social animals. They need daily monitoring and attention from pet owners and companion rabbits.  They require daily exercise to stretch out their legs and many resources recommend at least 30 hours or more a week of play time out of their pens.

Rabbits require routine veterinary care and should be spayed or neutered to decrease the likelihood of the animal spraying and of course to prevent breeding.  Both female and male rabbits are known to spray.

A rabbit requires a pen or cage that is at least six times the adult size of the rabbit.  There should be plenty of room for water and food bowls, toys and a litterbox. Rabbits are incredibly clean animals and will readily use a litterbox, but this needs to be cleaned out daily.  Their diets should include unlimited fresh grass hay, 1-2 cups of fresh veggies and about 1/4 cup (per 5-pound rabbit) of plain pellets each day.

Proper handling is required.  Rabbits need to feel safe and secure.  Often times, young handlers are too rough and do not provide all the necessary support a rabbit needs to feel comfortable.  This will lead to your rabbit becoming defensive by nipping, kicking and scratching if they do not feel safe.

While rabbits require a great deal of time and care, they make wonderful family pets to households everywhere.  Should you and your family choose to get a rabbit as a pet, we at CAHS encourage you to adopt a rabbit rather than purchase one from a pet store.  If you decide after careful consideration that a bunny rabbit isn’t the best pet for your family, you can always purchase a chocolate bunny for Easter morning.

Please be responsible pet owners: spay and neuter.

“To err is human, to forgive, canine” (Anonymous).

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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