It’s that time of year again! Everything is pastel tinted, we’ve seen the first baby squirrels of the year, and those big floppy rabbit ears are all over the television as Easter approaches (sidenote: check out this easy recipe for animal-free creme eggs!)
Here at APFA, we adore rabbits. We adore them so much that when the University of Victoria proposed culling the 1600 rabbits living on campus back in 2010, we spent $50,000 spaying and neutering them, and placing more than 900 of them in sanctuaries.
But why are we asking people not to give rabbits as Easter gifts? There are five main reasons:
- Rabbits can live up to 10 years. These sensitive individuals require a substantial time commitment. Parents very rarely consider a rabbit’s lifespan before deciding to bring one home.
- Rabbits are not ideal companions (or ‘starter pets’) for children. Rabbits are prey animals, so being picked up and cuddled (a beautiful, normal impulse for a young person) can actually cause a rabbit to become quite anxious and frightened. Small mammals are extremely sensitive requiring delicacy. Being dropped even once can cause serious harm.
- Many rabbits end up in shelters before their first birthday. Animals, when given as gifts (like toys or other forms of entertainment) often end up being discarded when their ‘novelty’ wears off. Each year, shelters are inundated with ‘Easter gifts’ who are no longer wanted.
- Many ‘Easter bunnies’ are dumped in public green spaces each year by irresponsible guardians. If they survive encounters with predators, they will breed. The gestation period for a rabbit is 28 days, and it is possible for a rabbit to conceive immediately after giving birth. Therefore it is possible for a rabbit to have 13 litters in a single year. There can be anywhere from 2 to 10 rabbits per litter!
- Rabbits require specialized care. This includes a specific dietary regimen, and their veterinary care can be quite expensive. Small mammals can become seriously sick in a short period of time, and require consistent preventative care along with regular checkups.
Due to irresponsible guardianship, places like Canmore, Alberta fare trapping and killing feral rabbit populations. In Richmond, BC council voted unanimously to ban the sale of rabbits in pet stores in 2010.
So how can you or your kids help rabbits?
- Don’t give a rabbit as an Easter gift. Make yours a chocolate rabbit or donate to your local shelter to assist with their rabbit program. If you do decide you want a rabbit companion, do your research and ensure you can give them the necessary care they require.
- Adopt, don’t buy! Never buy rabbits from pet stores. Intentional breeding is as illogical as it is inhumane, given how many rabbits are already in need of loving homes. Remember– when you adopt you save two lives (the animal you rescue and the animal you make room for).
- Don’t buy or wear fur. Rabbit fur is one of the most common kinds of fur and can only be obtained by killing, which is done in horrifyingly cruel ways.
- Get involved with rabbit rescue! Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy and Rabbit Rescue Inc. are great organizations, and local shelters are almost always looking for volunteers to assist with caring for rabbits and other small mammals.