The Easter Bunny has been a symbol of Easter since at least the 1682 and delights children to this day. It's thought that the origin stems from the hare as a symbol of spring beginning. But what does this mean for real rabbits and how does the holiday affect them?
Many people consider purchasing rabbits as gifts for their children or other family members around Easter, as they are exceptionally cute and small as babies and it seems like a great idea at the time. But is it really okay to buy a rabbit as a gift? Please think again before you take on a bunny and consider the points below about whether you're really ready to take on a new pet...
Rabbits don't always make great first pets for children, as they can grow to be large animals and need specific handling to keep them happy and healthy. Remember that an adult will have to take responsibility for any animals and an unwanted gift will usually be discarded - in this case, bunnies left to fend for themselves in the wild, taken to the vets to be put down, or abandoned at rescue centres.
Rabbits are intelligent and complex creatures, who will take up time - they need cleaning out and feeding every day, they'll need grooming and one-to-one time with you, regular handling to keep them sociable, and these are just the basics. Rabbits can live up to 12 years old. Do you have the time to offer them for the rest of their lives?
Rabbits are social creatures, who should be kept in pairs or groups for their psychological wellbeing. They will need a large hutch and run at least, if not more space (such as a converted shed or access to a whole garden). They do not do well in small accommodation and need space to hop about and display their natural behaviours.
Pet shops are fairly cheap when it comes to purchasing a rabbit, but have you considered the cost of keeping a live animal for 8 to 12 years? Remember you'll need to buy suitable accommodation, enrichment and food, and vet bills can be a shock for those who haven't considered insurance for their pets.
Please don't buy a bunny as a gift this Easter - this reinforces the idea to children that animals are a novelty that can be discarded when they get bored. Consider adopting a rabbit and giving them a second chance rather than gifting them to family members, and never take on a pet on a whim! It's best to research their requirements and make sure you're ready for that commitment.
If you have decided you are ready to take on a new pet and are interested in adopting rabbits, please take a look at our rehoming pages, and you can find more information about their needs on our blog. Perhaps consider volunteering with bunnies as an alternative to buying one if you don't have the time, space or money to keep one - it's a rewarding experience that will benefit yourself as well as the bunnies you're helping.