Sure, everyone has that vision of that smiling child in an adorable outfit holding a cute little bunny in her arms. How often have we seen such pictures on calendars and in advertisements during this time of year?
But, contrary to popular belief, rabbits and small children are not a good match. Many loving moms and dads can't resist these sweet little pets for their young children, but often aren't prepared for the long-term commitment. The natural exuberance of even the gentlest toddler is stressful for a sensitive creature like a rabbit.
Another popular belief is that rabbits are passive and cuddly. Actually, they are ground-loving creatures that feel frightened and insecure when held and restrained. Pet rabbits are domesticated prey animals that are highly sensitive to their environment. They are sociable, inquisitive animals requiring hours of playtime each day for their well-being. They need this from their human friends, but without high noise or stress levels.
Bunnies rarely tolerate being carried around and do not play interactively. Rabbits have fragile spines that can break if dropped by a child. Even the gentlest children do not have sufficient eye-hand coordination to handle a pet rabbit. A frightened rabbit can kick and scratch, injuring a child who doesn't handle it correctly.
Pet stores stock up for the annual Easter rabbit parade. Although many people are aware of the cat and dog overpopulation problem, very few people know about rabbit overpopulation. One of the causes is Easter.
Bunny mills swing into production, turning out thousands of cute baby rabbits with which you fall in love while looking in the et shop windows. Rabbit mills are just as notorious breeding places as those of puppy and cat mills. Animals live in filth, illness and misery.
Another cause for rabbit overpopulation is that many people who adopt rabbits never bother to have them spayed or neutered. And rabbits will be rabbits and multiply-like rabbits!
Just two rabbits can become 20 rabbits in no time. Rabbits have a gestation period of only 30 to 32 days and can become pregnant again within weeks.
Rabbits enter puberty at an early age and become a little more aggressive and can snap or nip at their owners. They must be spayed or neutered or they will mark your home with feces and urine. This is about the time when a beginning rabbit owner decides that a rabbit isn't such a good pet after all.
This so-called 'low-maintenance' pet, in fact, requires work. They must be housetrained and the house must be bunny-proofed, or the cute, cuddly bunny will chew electrical cords, rugs, books or furniture.
Rabbits make good pets for the right home, but it is important that their new owners understand what they are getting into. The life span of an indoor rabbit is seven to ten years. They require a lot of watching, a specialized diet, exercise and stress prevention.
It isn't reasonable to expect a child to be able to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, or even to make a 10-year commitment to anything. Often the child loses interest and the Easter rabbit ends up neglected or abandoned.
Each year, the lucky ones get dropped off at the shelter, while the others become easy prey when they are left to fend for themselves in the wild.
If joining the Easter rabbit parade is a must, a nice long-eared stuffed pink or blue bunny might be a better choice.
Taken from Flagler/Palm Coast New-Tribune