Easter generally conjures up images of fluffy chicks and sweet bunnies sitting in baskets with plenty of straw. While these images are adorable, they’re actually hiding a darker secret—a majority of these animals will be gone within a year. That’s why we need to stop the tradition of buying rabbits at Easter.
Statistics show that almost 80 percent of rabbits at animal shelters were once Easter pets. And according to the Humane Society, rabbits are the animals most commonly given to shelters, right after dogs and cats. If that doesn’t impress upon you the severity of the Easter rabbit situation, I don’t know what will.
“This is the time of year that many people rush out to buy a bunny,” Lisa Whitty from rabbit welfare organization Make Mine Chocolate, told The Telegraph. The organization who has launched a campaign to encourage people to buy chocolate, rather than real, bunnies “Within a few months of Easter, the already over-stretched rabbit rescue centres are then inundated with unwanted bunnies.”
It’s easy to see the benefits of a small, fluffy bunny: They’re cute and small and lots of fun. But they’re also an immense amount of work. While many can be litter box trained, rabbits are not always the neatest of creatures.
They live for eight to 12 years, require specialty vet bills, need to be spayed or neutered and also go through a hormonal “teenage” phase. They also chew incessantly because their front teeth are always growing.
They eat expensive pet food—not grass and carrots—just like dogs and cats. They can bite, they are timid and, for the most part, they dislike small, grabby hands.
“Rabbits are not good pets for children,” Courtney Smith writes for PETA. “They are nothing like the precious E.B. from ‘Hop’ whom your children are imagining when they beg for a bunny. Even the ‘Hop’ website has put a disclaimer discouraging viewers from running out of the theater and going straight to the pet store to buy their own ‘rock ‘n’ roll bunny.'”
And if you’re thinking about just releasing the Easter rabbit back into the wild, think again. Pet rabbits are domesticated, and they won’t be able to survive outdoors, unlike wild rabbits. These poor animals rarely survive for long when abandoned, the Humane Society says.
“Bringing the rabbit outside, it’s a horrible, horrible death—I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Marcia Coburn, president at the Red Door Animal Shelter in Chicago, told DNA Info. “From owls, foxes, raccoons, you know, dogs, cats, all kinds of predators.”
The moral of the story is this: Bunnies are not a “starter” pet. They are a lot of work, and they don’t stay small forever. If you’re sure a rabbit is right for you and your family, look up adoptable animals at your local animal shelters and rescues to find your match. Hoppy Easter!