Around this time of year it’s impossible to open a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a cute rabbit. They’re everywhere ‐ on billboards, in magazines, and on packaging up and down the aisles of supermarkets. It’s no wonder that sales of pet rabbits explode at Easter. It’s at this time of year that ‘pester power’ comes into its own, with children begging their parents for a lovely fluffy bunny.
But rabbits suffer because of their looks. They are seen by many to be not much more than soft toys, and so are bought without much thought of the responsibilities involved in caring for them. The sad fact is that in the weeks and months following Easter, already overcrowded rescue shelters are inundated with calls from owners wishing to offload their rabbit because the child has tired of it, and the reality of cleaning out, feeding and the expense of vet trips has set in.
Lisa Whitty, from Make Mine Chocolate! a campaign group with the aim of discouraging people from buying rabbits as Easter gifts, said, “There are tens of thousands of rabbits in shelters needing good homes. We have surveyed rabbit rescues up and down the UK and data shows that in almost 40% of cases of rabbits being given up to rescue shelters are within 6 months of being bought. This shows that many people simply aren’t aware of what’s involved in keeping a rabbit before they make the purchase”.
Anne Mitchell, from the largest domestic rabbit welfare charity, The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) had this to say: “Rescue shelters are overcrowded and under‐funded. If people genuinely want to provide a good home for a rabbit they should contact their local rescue shelter. They will be given advice on everything that’s involved, including neutering, feeding, and how to bond with another rabbit. Rabbits are social creatures and suffer if they are kept alone. It’s also cheaper to go to a rescue because the chances are that they will have been neutered already. Rabbits make wonderful pets but it’s a case of the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.”
So it seems that the Easter Bunny needs some help and the message from the people in the know is, think carefully before taking on a rabbit as a pet, and if you are going to buy one, then think about going to your local rescue shelter first.
For more information on what’s involved in looking after a rabbit please use the ‘Bunny Basics’ section on www.britishbunnies.co.uk. Alternatively visit www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk where they have loads of advice and downloadable information.