29 Mar Gifting An Easter Bunny – Is it a good idea?
Many families who celebrate Easter are very familiar with the charming icon “The Easter Bunny” who delivers sweets for children the morning of Easter Sunday. This link of rabbits to Easter has led to parents gifting more than chocolate to children. Rabbits make great pets and can bring a family joy for years. Before taking that step, consider these important facts on rabbit health and husbandry.
One of the most important factors to a rabbit’s health is adequate housing. It is important that rabbits get at least 5 hours of exercise every day. Having a large pen with lots of room is preferred to caging. If you would prefer to cage your rabbit, a good rule of thumb for housing is a length of at least 4 times the full length of your rabbit by 2 full lengths. This will allow adequate space to jump, play, and exhibit natural behaviors such as burrowing, hiding, and nesting. Although your rabbit may be small as a young kit, he could grow up to 20 inches long and can weigh over 10 lbs (depending on breed). Make sure you have enough room to keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
Once housing is established, your rabbit’s environment will have to be cleaned often to keep him healthy. Living in a dirty environment can predispose your rabbit to respiratory infections, bacterial infection of the feet, or even depression. To help keep their area clean, rabbits can be litter trained like cats. This litter will need to be changed every day, along with complete cleaning of the environment weekly.
Just like dogs and cats, rabbits need to visit the vet too! Although there are no commercially available vaccines, rabbits have specific health conditions that need to be monitored annually by a veterinarian. For example, rabbit’s teeth are continuously growing and need to be monitored throughout their lifetime to detect any overgrowth that could lead to serious dental disease. Rabbits are not as low maintenance as they seem. They need daily care and are a long term commitment with an average lifespan of 10 years. Rabbits need to be mentally and environmentally enriched each day which takes serious dedication and investment. Unfortunately, this commitment is often not realized at the time of purchase and Easter rabbits end up being surrendered to the shelter.
Please contact your local veterinarian to discuss whether a rabbit is right for your family.
Further sources with information on what to expect when caring for a domestic rabbit: