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A Public Service Announcement

Kevin has graciously allowed me to use this space today to inveigh against one of the most pernicious creatures around: the Easter Bunny.

No, not the antrophomorphic critter that wanders from house to house, leaving baskets and multicolored eggs in his wake. I'm against the other Easter Bunnies. The cute, hopping, fuzzy critters, that some parents give their kids as Easter presents.

What's the big deal? A lot, actually.

The House Rabbit Society sums it up pretty well in a press release:

Every summer, the House Rabbit Society receives a barrage of calls from people who have tired of the "Easter gifts" they purchased for their children just a few months before. Adolescent bunnies who have outgrown their baby cuteness and worn out as a novelty are relinquished to shelters, "set free," or ignored in backyard hutches.

The problem occurs when well-intentioned adults are seduced by the cuddliness of soft, furry baby bunnies that are heavily promoted in pre-Easter sales at pet stores. On impulse, they buy a bunny to surprise their child at Easter -- not realizing that rabbits need adults as primary caretakers. Education and a little thoughtfulness could prevent the neglect, abandonment, and euthanasia that often occur in the months following Easter.

Are you starting to get the picture. Cute little bun-bun doesn't stay cute little bun-bun for long. Within a few months, cute little bun-bun is going to get bigger, start chewing on the walls and furniture, and being a rabbit, will probably direct unwelcome romantic attentions toward other housepets, the furniture, and possibly your leg. Sounds pleasant, no?

But since the rabbit is out of the basket already and families already have their cute little bun-buns, a few tips are in order.

First, consult the care section of the House Rabbit Society's Web site. There, you're going to learn much of what you need to know about caring for cute little bun-bun, including the importance of spaying, cute little bun-bun's proper diet, and how to litter-train cute little bun-bun.

Second, get the to the Yellow Pages. Look under "V" for "Veterinarian," and find gentle, experienced doctor who specializes in exotics. Take cute little bun-bun down to see the veterinarian ASAP for a general checkup -- to make sure cute little bun-bun isn't sick -- and to schedule an appointment for cute little bun-bun to get snip-snipped.

I can't emphasize how important this step is. Actually, let the House Rabbit Society emphasize this:

Altered rabbits are healthier and live longer than unaltered rabbits. The risk of reproductive cancers (ovarian, uterine, mammarian) for an unspayed female rabbit stands at is virtually eliminated by spaying your female rabbit. Your neutered male rabbit will live longer as well, given that he won't be tempted to fight with other animals (rabbits, cats, etc.) due to his sexual aggression.

By the way, they're not kidding about that one. A former co-worker of mine, sometime ago, discovered that little factoid when his cute little bunbun decided kittykat was a girl bunbun. Not very pleasant for the kittykat.

Third step. Look up your local chapter of the House Rabbit Society. Nobody knows domesticated rabbits better than the Society, so they're going to be an invaluable resource for you. On top of that, theyr'e the only people who won't say "You have a what?" when you describe your pet to them.

If you got your child a pet rabbit for Easter, you probably made a mistake. It's easy to think of cute little bunbun as a rather large hamster or guinea pig -- after all, the teeth are kind of shaped the same, and they all live in cages, right? Not quite. I know from experience that owning a rabbit is less like owning a rodent and more like owning a small, hopping cat, complete with a litterbox that needs cleaning, fur that needs petting, and, as bunbun ages, medicine that must be administered to an often uncooperative animal.

Please, if you bought a rabbit for your young children this Easter, take responsibility for the rabbit, educate yourself, and dedicate at least some of your time to its well-being. And by the way ... don't even think of setting bubun loose in the wild. If you bought bunbun at a pet store or from a breeder, then bubun has probably never known existence in the wild ... and like most domesticated animals, bunbun is going to lack some essential survival skills.


Comments (11)

Check this out:<a ... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:
Reputable pet shops don't s... (Below threshold)

Reputable pet shops don't sell rabbits at Easter. Precisely because only idiots buy an animal to coincide with a holiday.

Anyone who refers to Bun-Bu... (Below threshold)
drew:

Anyone who refers to Bun-Bun as cute and cuddly has never read Sluggy Freelance (www.sluggy.com) Read it and you will never look at rabbits the same again Ka-Click

Reputable pet shops don'... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Reputable pet shops don't sell rabbits at Easter. Precisely because only idiots buy an animal to coincide with a holiday.

But there are plenty of home breeders for whom Easter is the perfect time to unload their kits. I'm reminded of the woman in Roger and Me (Michael Moore is fat) who sold her rabbits for "Pets or Meat." I suppose if you're stuck with one, though, there's always myxomatosis (did I just write that? I'm a vegetarian!).

I have gone to a couple of ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I have gone to a couple of rabbit shows and become friends with a number of breeders, and most of what Pennywit posted is rather accurate. Rabbits do make wonderful pets, if cared for properly, but they are not good pets for young children and care needs to be taken in choosing a rabbit to join a household.
The House Rabbit Society has a lot of very accurate and useful informaiton on their websites, and taking the time to meet and talk with a breeder is something I will recommend. Most Breeders will have some rabbits they are willing to part with to someone who just wants a pet. (either an older rabbit that is no longer being breed/shown, or a younger rabbit that fails to meet the standards for show rabbits.) These people put a lot of care and time into raising their rabbits and can usually help get the right rabbit for their situation.
I currently have 4 rabbits, and other than a few dominance issues. (the oldest female doesn't like the younger does) they all have become loved members of the family, and are healthy and appear happy.

Absolutely correct!<p... (Below threshold)
Ted:

Absolutely correct!

We have a bonded pair of rabbits, and foster a third for the local rabbit rescue (although he'll probably be joining our family in the near future). All are fixed, all are microchipped, all are litterbox trained, and they're wonderful pets. They get along great with our two dogs.

Like any pet, you have to commit the time and effort to them that they require, and they'll reward you with love and companionship. Pennywit kept using the term 'cute', but the first word that comes to mind about our rabbits is 'hilarious'. Rabbits are fun and funny to watch as they interact with the family and each other.

And I'll put the plug for the local bunny rescue in here while I'm at it: www.bunnylu.org

They're in Manassas, Virginia.

Don't forget that ultimatel... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Don't forget that ultimately Rabbits, especially if hand raised and pampered are delicious. The meat is generally of high quality and decidely low fat.

Down with bunnies! Up with ... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Down with bunnies! Up with CHICKS! Growing up, we used to get chicks at Easter. Normally the co-op would use food coloring so we had little pink or blue or green chicks to play gently with, which were then released with the other chickens, to grow up and lay eggs until such time as the preacher was coming for Sunday dinner, at which time we had us some chicken and dumplings!

Another solution would be <... (Below threshold)

Another solution would be this

Cute little bun-bun does... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Cute little bun-bun doesn't stay cute little bun-bun for long. Within a few months, cute little bun-bun is going to get bigger, start chewing on the walls and furniture, and being a rabbit, will probably direct unwelcome romantic attentions toward other housepets, the furniture, and possibly your leg. Sounds pleasant, no?

Then, cute little bun-bun can become Lapine a l'Orange. Problem solved, and tastily too. :)

Lapin a l'Orange, I mean.</... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Lapin a l'Orange, I mean.




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