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31 March 1999 Issue
Rabbits at Easter

by Amy Shapiro

A smiling child in an adorable outfit clutches a cute baby bunny in her
arms. What's wrong with this picture? Contrary to Easter time hype, rabbits
and small children are not a good match. The natural exuberance,
rambunctiousness and decibel-level of even the gentlest toddler are stressful
for the sensitive rabbit. It is the rare child who will enjoy and appreciate the
rabbit's subtle and sensitive nature.

Another misconception is that rabbits are passive and cuddly. They are
ground-loving creatures who feel frightened and insecure when held and
restrained. Children like a companion they can hold, carry, and cuddle, just
as they do their favorite stuffed animal. It is unreasonable to expect a child to
be able to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, or to make a 10-year
commitment to anything! All too often, the child loses interest, and the rabbit
ends up neglected or abandoned.

Some people think rabbits are a "low-maintenance" pet. In fact, they require
almost as much work as a dog. They must be housetrained. The house must
be bunny-proofed, or Thumper will chew electrical cords, rugs, books, and
furniture. They must be spayed or neutered, or they will mark your house with
feces and urine. They must live indoors, as members of the family. Rabbits
kept in hutches outdoors have an average lifespan of about one year; house
rabbits can live 8 to 10 years. Predators abound, not only in rural areas but
in urban and suburban locations as well. Outdoor rabbits become bored and
depressed from isolation. To consign these sensitive, intelligent, social
animals to life in a hutch is to miss all the joy of sharing your life with a rabbit.
Unless he's part of your daily routine, you will not have the opportunity to
really get to know his subtle personality.

Clearly, rabbits are not for everyone! Are you a gentle adult who lives in a
quiet household? Are you eager to get to know rabbits on their own terms --
to spend time down at their level, on the floor; to allow the rabbit to initiate
gestures of friendship and trust? If you think you are one of those rare
individuals who would enjoy sharing life with a rabbit, please visit your local
animal shelter or rabbit-rescue group. As rabbits have increased in popular-
ity, they are suffering the same fate as our other companion animals --
abandonment. You can also check your local veterinary clinic and "Pets"
classifieds of your newspaper. It's a sad fact that no matter where you live,
you are within 10 miles of a rabbit who needs a home. The effort made to
find that special bunny means you are saving a life.

So if little Susie is pleading for a bunny for Easter, do a rabbit a favor, and
buy her a toy rabbit that she can snuggle to her heart's content. Let's make
Easter a joyful time for our long-eared friends.

House Rabbit Society Home Page and Rabbit Car...
http://www.rabbit.org/ 
Email: hrsdp@aol.com

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