Each spring, hundreds of thousands of parents buy their children a baby bunny for Easter. Within a few months, the novelty wears off and most of these innocent rabbits end up in animal shelters. Others are heartlessly tossed out to fend for themselves in parks or wilderness areas. Parents, who end up caring for their kids’ bunnies, have no clue about the anguish they cause these domesticated creatures. Most dumped rabbits die of diseases or predation. Those who manage to survive the hard winter breed explosively until land owners have to call in an exterminator. Tragically, a large number of bunnies die from mistreatment or neglect. Far too many acquaintances have callously told me, “We had a bunny once but it died.” If they’re that blase about the death of a pet, I shudder to think what sort of friend they would be to a person like me.
In this age of the internet, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing about rabbit care. Websites abound with practical information. Media outlets run stories each Easter about the inadvisability of buying a bunny for children. Book stores stock all sorts of “how to” manuals. Unfortunately, people figure they know how to care for a rabbit, probably based on watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and hearsay. How absolutely stupid! Rabbits are prey animals with fragile bones. Children play too roughly with them. Bunnies can even break their own backs if they are picked up incorrectly. These animals need space to run and play too. Keeping them in tiny cages, as I once did, is cruel and reprehensible. From living with house rabbits, I’ve learned that they love company but on their own terms. If people must get a pet for their kids, get a dog.
No matter what the prize is for being the world’s stupidest person, it’s not worth the price paid by innocent bunnies sold by unscrupulous breeders. Visit www.rabbit.org first before considering having bunnies as pets. Be prepared to have the animal neutered or spayed. Learn how to litter train them and how to rabbit-proof their living space. Rabbits live for as long as 10 years, not the short time that popular opinion says. They experience the same emotions as other pets and they need just as much care. For more information about my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir, please visit my www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison page. Don’t make the same stupid mistakes I did for years but learn from my experiences.