Bunnies—the symbol of Easter with their fuzzy fur and wiggly noses.
A new rabbit might sound like the perfect surprise for your children on Easter morning and pet stores around the country anticipate this as they more than double their supply prior to the holiday.
But what happens the next day when parents are back at work, kids are in school and the small pet requires more care than anticipated?
Groups such as the House Rabbit Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are calling on people to avoid the urge to give a rabbit as a gift for Easter.Mary Cotter, vice president of the House Rabbit Society, said in a news release that many of the rabbits purchased as Easter pets will never live to see their first birthday.
“It is irresponsible for pet stores to push rabbits and other so-called Easter animals during the holiday,” Cotter said. “Unless parents are willing to take full responsibility for the possible 10-year life plan of a live rabbit, they should buy their children chocolate rabbits instead.”
The Columbus, OH chapter of the House Rabbit Society created the "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign to raise awareness and urge people to avoid pet rabbits.
Of course, that doesn't mean rabbits shouldn't ever be pets—just that they don't make the best gifts around Easter for a number of reasons. The major reason is that they're impulse buys around this time of year, but then get ignored, abused and discarded.
People who buy rabbits on a whim often don't realize that they require as much attention as a cat or dog, have specific dietary restrictions and aren't always the best match for children.
So if you think a live rabbit would be cute on Easter, make sure you consider what it will be like for the next 10 Easters too. ASPCA has a guide to general rabbit care available on its website, and the House Rabbit Society also outlines some things to know before buying a pet rabbit.
If you don't think you or your kids are ready for that, the best kind of Easter bunny is probably the chocolate candy kind.
Local shelters and pet stores: Tell us how you handle increased requests for pet rabbits around this time of year and how you advise people buying new pets.