Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, cookies ‘n’ cream and maybe even Butterfinger: the only types of “Easter bunnies” suitable for gifts.
Of course it’s tempting to get the other kind, the living, breathing, fluffy, soft-as-cotton kind. Rabbits and other baby animals seem to go hand-in-hand with Easter and beautifully decorated baskets. But with an “Easter bunny” comes a lot of work and a ton of hay (their main food source, as well as bedding and litter box material.)
It’s best to avoid giving them as gifts. But no matter when you decide to welcome a floppy-eared friend into your home, there are several important aspects of rabbit care you should consider.
- All family members should be on board with getting and caring for a new pet. Children can’t be expected to be their caretakers. Companion animals require adults to be in charge of their daily needs, and to be invested in the commitment, both time-wise and financially. By setting a good example, adults can help the whole family form a bond with a new pet.
- With proper care, a rabbit’s lifespan is 6-12 years! They’re a long-term commitment, just like a cat or dog.
- Bugs Bunny must have had a picky palate. Rabbits eat much more than just carrots. In fact, carrots should be only a small part of their diet; a dessert, if you will. Their meals should primarily be hay and pellets (and available to them 24/7), supplemented by leafy greens and other vegetables. Pieces of apple and other fruits can be used as treats.
- Rabbits want to be with their people and have plenty of cage-free time. Ideally, they should have a large penned-in space inside your home with access to a cage that is large enough to hold their litter box (yes, they can be litter box trained just like a cat!). When you have them out of their pen, they will be happy on your lap or next to you for your evening TV time, or getting brushed, or even just hopping around your home (with supervision) while you go about your daily activities.
- And about those litter boxes (we know we blew your mind with that one!): The task will be a little different than training a cat, but the extra effort will reap rewards. And they might seem to have an odd attachment to their bathroom space, spending lots of time in their box or even napping in or eating near it. They must also learn to use the box on their own terms. For instance, when they seem to pick a favorite spot for bathroom habits, that’s where you should put their litter box. Never force your rabbit to use the box, as this will be counterproductive to the learning curve. Positive reinforcement is the way to go.
- And just like our other furry companions, they should be spayed or neutered. It improves their health and quality of life and helps with litter box training.
So, unless you’ve done the research on breeds, care and supplies and are ready for a commitment of up to 12 years, stick with the chocolate bunnies for Easter gift-giving. Plus, everyone’s sweet tooth will thank you.