Rabbits are not Easter Gifts!

What you Need to Know Before you Adopt a Rabbit.

Most of us think of spring flowers and birds chirping before Easter celebrations. One animal that comes to mind is the fluffy, furry, cute bunny rabbit! Some people buy rabbits during Easter as gifts for their children and other family members every year. Sadly, many rabbits that were bought as Easter gifts get dumped at animal shelters and surrendered to animal rescues. It’s not a surprise that rabbits can be misunderstood as pets. Many people buy bunnies impulsively without doing their research and think they can sit in a cage. However, rabbits are not docile creatures without personalities. Rather, rabbits are complex, varied, and loving family members. They can make amazing companion animals for families that are willing to make the effort to engage with them.

There are many wonderful rabbits in animal shelters and rabbit rescues in your area. We adopted a rescue rabbit, Zoey, (pictured here), when she was two years old (surrendered at a municipal shelter and saved by an animal sanctuary), almost four and a half years ago. Zoey is a beloved bunny and family member that we love. I learned a lot about rabbits through my personal experience with Zoey. 

Here’s what you should consider before you adopt a rabbit:

Rabbits need room to roam. Keeping them confined to a cage can be lonely and not instinctive. They like to dig, hop, chew, and play around. For instance, our rabbit, Zoey, is known as the basement bunny, as she can roam around freely.  The basement is bunny-proofed to make it safe for her. We added yoga/exercise mats for her paws and built her an enclosure from an exercise mat that is her “tippy” (hiding place) where she sits during the day. I think she feels safe and secure there. She has a cage that is quite large (meant for more than one rabbit) where she eats, drinks water, and goes to the washroom in her litter pen (rabbits can be housetrained easily).  Although rabbits can be similar to other types of pets, they are considered “exotic” animals and some vet clinics will not see them. You need to find an exotic animal clinic/hospital or check with your local veterinarian to find out if they can accept rabbits as patients.

It’s easy to take care of a rabbit. You need to provide them with fresh hay, water, and pellets which you can purchase at most pet stores. You can talk to the salesperson for some enrichment toys and treats. There are many options to keep a rabbit busy and happy too! Our rabbit loves apples and grapes as well as kale and spinach.

Rabbits are known to be most active during the dawn and dusk hours so during the day, Zoey is sleepy and calm. She gets hyper and is most fun to play with in the evening. I usually plan around that and started doing evening yoga with Zoey hopping around me which is so sweet!! Sometimes she’s so happy that she jumps and twists in mid-air with excitement (rabbits show their affection). Other times, she becomes relaxed when I am doing my yoga, and sits beside me.

Rabbits are individuals with unique personalities similar to other companion animals such as dogs and cats. For instance, Zoey is sassy and can be cuddly. She doesn’t like to be picked up but she will approach us when she wants affection. Zoey is more cautious with strangers and needs time to get to know people. When we first adopted her, she was very shy and seemed unfriendly. It took some effort for her to warm up to us but it was worth it. Now she jumps up for joy and is bonded with my family. She’s also very affectionate to us. If you take the time to research rabbits, you will quickly realize that they are wonderful animals that make amazing family members. I discuss rabbits in my book, “A Voice for Animals.” I give you more practical tips if you are considering adopting a rabbit. You won’t regret this decision and you can give a rescue rabbit a second chance.