The Star-Herald

Chocolate or stuffed?

This time of year, we always try to do a simple reminder as there are thoughts of Easter eggs and especially Easter bunnies. What is the best decision for your family — a real bunny, stuffed bunny or, better yet, a chocolate bunny?

On more than a few occasions throughout the year we have rabbits dropped off at the shelter. There is nothing cuter than a baby bunny, but unfortunately, like all animals, they grow into adults and require constant care during their lifetime. Purchasing a real bunny for the children can be a spur-of-the-moment decision and can be especially tempting at Easter time. Past experience will show that once the “novelty” of a real rabbit wears off, the shelter becomes a dropping-off place a few months later. 

Our kennel technicians offer some important advice. 

Consider all aspects when looking to adopt a rabbit. Most families that adopt a rabbit don’t realize the amount of work that is involved, and the majority of those surrendering a rabbit say “it’s a lot of work.” 

Cleaning a rabbit’s cage should be done every other day. They urinate frequently and the odor can be quite strong. Some personalities can be aggressive and kick. Rabbits are chewers by nature, so their play area should be carefully rabbit-proofed. 

Our technicians also suggested that young children should not have rabbits. A good age should be 6 years old and up. 

If after researching and educating your family you decide to adopt, the House Rabbit Society at www.rabbit.org has these suggestions. 

– Rabbits are intelligent, affectionate and inquisitive. Their personalities range from bold to timid, gentle to rambunctious and everything in between. 

– Rabbits can be litter box-trained and they can live with domesticated cats and well-behaved dogs. They are social animals that thrive in the company of others. 

– Rabbits tend to be better pets for adults rather than children. Noisy households and people who are looking for something they can carry in their arms and cuddle for hours are likely to be disappointed. As ground-loving creatures, rabbits feel most comfortable on the floor or may prefer to sit beside you rather than on your lap. 

– Rabbits should be spayed or neutered to prolong their lives; this prevents or solves many behavior problems, such as house soiling, destructive chewing and digging, and aggressiveness. 

– Rabbits can live 10 years or more and should live indoors. 

– Rabbits are prey animals and even the most urban areas have predators, including raccoons, feral cats and dogs. Domestic rabbits that are kept outdoors are also subject to fleas, ticks, parasites, extreme weather and neglect by their caretakers (“out of sight, out of mind”). Try adopting from your local shelter instead of a breeder or pet store. 

As their popularity increases, rabbits are paying the same price as other companion animals because there are more rabbits available than there are responsible humans to care for them. 

If after careful consideration you are sure a rabbit would fit into your lifestyle, call or stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society, 24 Cross Street, Presque Isle. Our hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check us out on Facebook. Please be responsible: spay/neuter your pets.

Gloria Towle is the secretary of the Central Aroostook Humane Society board of directors.

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