Watch out for the Easter Bunny trap! Bunnies are cute little buggers and, especially at Easter time, that's the pet that kids want most. But be careful of falling for this plaintive cry, "Oh please, Mom (or Dad)!" Before you buy that bunny you need to know what you're getting into.
There are several breeds of domesticated rabbits that make great pets for the right families, but most people don't realize the amount of care and expense that pet rabbits require to be happy and healthy.
Here are just some of the things you may not know about those little Easter bunnies!
1. Rabbits can be terrific pets, but they need time, attention, and a lot of care. Though you can adopt a pet bunny, it will still take time for her to adjust to a new home and family.
2. Rabbits are shy and skittish by nature. They frighten easily, especially with new people and new circumstances. They are not like puppies who like almost anyone who pays attention to them; it takes time and patience for bunnies to adjust to people, and then probably only to the people who care for them.
3. Bunnies need quite a bit of care. They need to be outfitted with cages, toys, gnawing blocks, and bedding material. Their cages should be cleaned 2-3 times a week and maintained daily. They need veterinary care at least once a year, vaccinations, grooming, and most of all daily exploration and obstacle-free exercise. They are curious creatures that get bored easily.
5. Rabbits also need to roam free for a few hours a day, so you will need to "Bunny-Proof" your home; for example, you'll need to protect your baseboards from being gnawed off. Surface areas for your rabbit should be carpeted so your rabbit doesn't slip and hurt himself. Rabbits are fragile.
6. If you're not home for hours at a time, your rabbit will need company. If this will be the case, get two young neutered rabbits at the same time. Bringing a new rabbit home to your current bunny might lead to territorial problems.
7. Unless you can secure a rabbit in her own space, she should not be in a household with dogs or cats. Even if your larger pets are 'friendly,' they will intimidate the rabbit.
8. Rabbits eat fresh vegetables, mostly dark greens and hay, specifically "Timothy grass" hay. Contrary to popular opinion, rabbits do not eat carrots, except a small amount as a special treat. A rabbit should munch on fresh hay, tree bark, and twigs much of the day to keep his teeth trimmed - they have 28 teeth and they all grow outward - unless your rabbit keeps them trim chomping on her hay, bark, and wooden toys. If not, you will have to cut them periodically.
9. Rabbits are not necessarily less expensive to care for than other pets. It is estimated that a happy, healthy rabbit will cost about $800 per year, not including veterinary bills.
10. Rabbits need to be handled carefully. They should not be picked up by the neck, ears, or scruff. Some don't even enjoy to be picked up or held; it depends on the individual bunny. You've achieved something if your rabbit lets you pet him or sits on your lap. Here's one way to get a rabbit up to your lap:
Mopsy, the rabbit, sharing an apple with his owner. (Photo by Ed Gray, Wikipedia)
(Watch this excellent video, How To Handle A Rabbit, here.)
There's even more to learn about rabbit care, believe me! If you are not turned off by what I've shared, you may want to visit these sites that provide extensive information about the proper care of rabbits: My House Rabbit, The Cape Coop, and BunnyHugga, for starters!
If you decide to get a rabbit, a must-see is 4 Favorite Puzzle Toys For Pet Rabbits.