To the Editor:
Easter is coming and many people are tempted to buy one of those cute little bunnies that appear at pet stores. But unless your child is over 12 and very responsible, you would be better off getting a puppy from an animal shelter.
Rabbits are relatively fragile animals; they have birdlike skeletons that are much lighter than those of dogs or cats. A rabbit can easily break its back if improperly handled or dropped.
Most baby bunnies are cute and cuddly and tolerate handling. But their childhood ends quickly. By June your Easter rabbit will start to become sexually mature. During this time most rabbits have drastic personality changes. The Velveteen Rabbit becomes an independent Bugs Bunny. At this stage, most rabbits refuse to be picked up or cuddled. Your child can be severly scratched by powerful hind legs or bitten by sharp teeth.
Un-neutered male rabbits like to spray to mark territory just as dogs do. Their urine smells strong, and often they can’t stop mounting. Many unspayed females have sharp mood swings and will bite any hand that dares to enter the cage. These females are mislabeled “mean” and end their lives in animal shelters. Your rabbit must be spayed or neutered to eliminate these undesirable behaviors. Many pet stores don’t tell you this, and thus every summer a steady stream of unwanted ex-Easter rabbits are discarded at animal shelters.
A rabbit is a long-term commitment. With proper care, rabbits live an average of eight to 12 years. Will your child still be interested in caring and playing with the rabbit after the novelty wears off? Or will bunny be abandoned in a backyard hutch come summer?
Under the right circumstances, rabbits are wonderful indoor pets. Many pet stores provide inaccurate information about rabbits. Rabbits need to be spayed and neutered, and they need to live in a safe and caring home. Save a life and don’t buy an Easter bunny. For more information, please call the Wisconsin House Rabbit Society at 608-232-7044.