Every spring, people fall in love with fuzzy baby rabbits. But for far too many, this love is a passing fancy. After the Easter pictures have been posted to Facebook and Instagram, many rabbits are abandoned to fend for themselves. This is heartbreaking because rabbits can be such sociable and entertaining pets (not to mention that fact that they’re, you know, LIVE ANIMALS). However, they are entitled to a long-term commitment from responsible caregivers who are willing to provide them with the love and attention they will need over their 8 to 10-year lifespan.
Before adopting that baby bunny for Easter, read up on their feeding and care. Make sure you have everything in place to guarantee your rabbit a healthy, safe and stimulating environment. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your rabbit indoors in a safe space. A spacious, well-equipped cage in a temperature-controlled area (not the garage!) is best. The cage should be big enough to house the full-grown bunny and allow it room to stretch out and move about without bumping its head.
- Place a litterbox in the cage. Use rabbit-appropriate litter (not clumping cat litter) and remove waste daily.
- Handle rabbits gently. They are not used to being constrained and their bones are very delicate. For these reasons, they are not necessarily a good pet for young children.
- Provide daily exercise. A rabbit’s most active time is around dawn and dusk each day so these are good times to let your rabbit out of the cage for some supervised play. Choose a closed room where it can’t chew on electrical cords, poisonous plants or household chemicals. Give your bunny some appropriate toys to play with and place some toys in the cage when playtime is over.
- Rabbits need to chew. Caged rabbits should have appropriate, untreated wood available for chewing. Make sure you offer them wood with no sharp corners.
- Two’s company. Rabbits are social creatures and do best in captivity when you adopt a bonded pair.
If you’ve done your best to make a home for your bunny but find that you just can’t sustain the commitment, please don’t abandon the rabbit outdoors. They are easy prey for dogs, cats, and wild animals. Find a local rabbit rescue through the House Rabbit Society. There are local chapters that will do their best to re-home unwanted bunnies. Most importantly, if you can’t make the commitment, consider a cute plush rabbit for those Easter photos instead.