Getting a bunny for Easter is popular and fun, but upgrading from chocolate to a real rabbit is something that needs careful consideration. There are 13 things you must know before getting a bunny for Easter to save yourself and the bunny a lot of grief.
1) Bunnies are a 10 year commitment.
The average life span of an indoor rabbit is 8-10 years.
2) Bunnies are a lot of work.
They need fed several times a day, their litter box needs cleaned regularly and they need regular exercise outside of their pen. They can be messy. Mine like to dump their food bowls and toss them around, and they also like to make a mess of their litter and timothy hay.
3) Bunnies need trained.
They need to be shown the rules, but they don’t learn like dogs and cats. Hitting, spanking or teasing them will break any trust they have developed with you. Gentle re-direction is best. They can be trained to use a litter box, but they will never outgrow the need to chew like a puppy does. They need a safe place without access to wires or other materials that can hurt them, or constant supervision when let out to exercise.
4) Bunnies are not dogs.
They also aren’t cats. They are prey animals and as prey animals, they don’t play the same way as predators do. You can’t rough them up or play chase. They do like to run, hop and “binky” but any quick movements toward them will scare them and cause them to panic. They also don’t like to be picked up. They can learn to tolerate handling, but it takes patience, confidence and know-how.
5) Bunnies cannot survive in the wild.
Too many rabbits that are purchased as pets either: escape and are not recaptured, or they are let loose near a farm or even right in the neighborhood. Domesticated rabbits do not have the same survival skills or natural camouflage that wild rabbits do. They easily become victims to hawks, eagles, coyotes, cars or the neighborhood dogs. They can also become malnourished and get sick, suffering for weeks before dying cold and alone.
6) Bunnies cost a lot of money.
They may be inexpensive themselves, but they need a large, roomy rabbit enclosure. $$$ To properly feed a rabbit they need a diet of quality timothy hay, fresh rabbit safe vegetables and a small amount of commercial pellets. Litter for their litter box and lots of toys and wood chew treats are also needed. Where it gets much more expensive is any vet related care that they need. While they don’t typically need shots, when they get sick they need immediate vet care. Do you have a vet that is close and specializes in rabbits? Long car rides are stressful for sick bunnies and can make things much worse.
7) Bunnies are unique individuals with personalities.
Some bunnies are shy and timid, some friendly and goofy, while others can be territorial and nippy. You can get an idea of a rabbit’s personality by carefully observing it for a while, but no matter how nice the rabbit appears to be, they do go through a “teenage” period where they are extra bratty for about 6-8 months.
8) Bunnies and small kids don’t mix.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule depending on the situation, but most of the time toddlers and young children are too rough and too loud to make good playmates for rabbits. Rabbits can also be hurt quite easily by being scared or being handled improperly. Adult supervision is a must at all times with young children.
9) Bunnies are not nocturnal, but crepuscular.
They are most active at dusk and dawn. Mine like to nap periodically throughout the day and seem slightly more active at night. Even though they don’t bark or whine, they rearrange their cages, scratch the bottom of their cages, and sometimes loudly thump their back feet. You might have some interrupted sleep.
10) Bunnies are social creatures.
They need daily attention, physical contact and interaction. This is especially true if you don’t have two bunnies.
11) Bunnies and dogs/cats don’t mix.
Even though there are exceptions, this tends to be the rule. Too many rabbits have become victims of rough play or predator instinct kicking in, even if the owner is sure his dog or cat is safe around other animals. It can be a great risk to a bunny. Sometimes the rabbit can be the instigator and harass your cats and smaller dogs. Even though it doesn’t work out all that often, rabbits can become best buddies with cats or dogs. It just takes a rabbit-savvy person to know when and how to integrate them.
12) Bunnies can be territorial and fight.
Not all rabbits get along. You don’t want to put a male and a female together for obvious reasons unless they are both spayed and neutered. Females are territorial and males tend to fight each other.
13) Bunnies can mark their territory by spraying urine and pooping.
This is often an unpleasant surprise for new rabbit owners. Both females and males tend to do this. Generally males are more likely to spray (kick up their back legs and flick urine), but not always. (I have personally have two un-neutered males who don’t spray.) Usually the presence of another male or female rabbit nearby increases the odds of this behavior. It also appears to depend on the individual rabbit. If you have problems with this behavior, a spay or neuter surgery will fix it most of the time and provide a happier, healthier more “chilled out” rabbit.
If this scared you away from rabbit ownership, then a rabbit probably isn’t right for you, and that’s OK! If it hasn’t then you are in for a real treat!
Rabbits can be some of the most rewarding and fun pets! They are great for introverts. I love how they are out of the way, but nearby for lots of love and pets without being in my face constantly. I also love that they don’t wine, bark, or “meow” which tends to drive me crazy. They bond well with their human owners and can be hilarious with their antics. They don’t slobber all over you, make rude noises and their fur doesn’t ever stink.
If you do get a rabbit, please, please consider looking to adopt from a rescue or shelter if possible! There are many wonderful rabbits who are in need of a good, loving home. Baby rabbits only stay small for a few months. Besides, if you get an adult rabbit, you will know how big it will be and what it will look like when it’s all grown up!
It’s also really important that if you do get a rabbit, and can no longer keep it that you turn it into a rescue group or an animal shelter. I know it’s embarrassing and painful, but the alternative of letting them go is so much harsher. When they are let loose, they multiply, cause lots of damage for property owners and ultimately suffer tragic and early deaths. That is where my rescue bunnies came from. They were abandoned by somebody and captured by me to save them from a certain death. There are a lot of people who love rabbits who would adopt your bunny! Please don’t get a bunny for Easter, unless you are up to the commitment.
Disclaimer: Jaimie is not the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, a lawyer, a doctor, a veterinarian, or a CPA. Nothing your read in my blog is a substitute for professional advice and doing your own good research. Remember that just because someone has credentials doesn’t guarantee their advice is golden or perfect. Put your smart hat on and do your due diligence. Good luck!
I really like this post and your commitment to such wonderful creatures.
Thanks, Pavel! Even though they take some work, rabbits are well worth the effort.
Thank you for sharing this. Rabbits are not Easter toys. My rabbit was rehomed several times before she came into our family. It took a lot of love to gain her trust. Now that we have she has fully recovered and happy. I wish people wouldn’t treat rabbits as novelty gift items.
Hi, Joni! I agree that rabbits are definitely not a good idea for “novelty gifts.” I am so glad you had the patience to earn your bunny’s trust. She is very lucky to have you. 🙂 Rabbits definitely are emotional creatures, you just have to know how to read their body language. Not having a permanent family can be really hard on them. They do love to be social once they trust you.
Angel Rose says
hey, I just really wanted to know…
our rabbit just gave birth to a litter of 5 rabbits. she is not feeding them or making a nest for them…… it’s her first time and she keeps stepping on them and they’re screaming😥 they’re two days old now. I moved them from the mother cage and started feeding them goat formula milk any suggestions or advice????
Hi, Angel. It sounds like you are on the right track with the goat milk formula. I do have a blog post written that addresses that topic in detail: https://jaimielistens.com/how-to-feed-orphaned-baby-rabbits/
Anu Elsa Saji says
Hello! I have 1 baby rabbit (7 days old) its 5 siblings died along with mother. So it an only child. I have been feeding it goat formula, but I can’t find raw goat milk..So use it with water, Is that ok? Will he die? Also I wanted to know at what age they will start little bit on solid food? I wanted to wait until like 1 month before slowly putting some hay in his little home and waiting until it slowly starts nibbling on it. Whwn will it slowly get little bit of fur? Like only st like 2 weeks right? It’s jus i don’t know anything about rabbits at all.I mean before the mother died she gave birth to 2 batch of kits. altogether 18. they all died. this batch was a surprise, so only me and my sister agreed to take care of him…And I’m like only 12…Your article was the most helpful of all!And I wanna thank you for that! And how much should we feed him at 7 days to 3 weeks? Because right now we feed him 5 ml….Just wanted to know… once again thanks a lot!
PS: The first time it peed like a squirt gun was yesterday…..And I’m pretty sure me and my sister got a case 2 heart attack…..It was like a frigging fountain!
Hi, Anu Elsa! I’m really sorry to hear you lost so many rabbits!
If you can’t find raw goat milk, you could definitely try using water. It’s not ideal, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing. I don’t know if he will die or not, because that can depend on many factors. With the babies I hand raised, I waited until they were a little older to start the solid food (it was around 6 weeks old), and I did it really slowly. Timothy hay is a good to start with. I had hay in the nest that was available since birth, so I don’t think it would hurt to have it in with him. The fur will start to come in gradually, since they only have “peach fuzz” at birth. There is no exact amount to feed him, so you will have to watch how full his belly looks. If you feed him slowly, he will start to slow down once he begins to feel full. With mine, I just kind of felt my way through it. You can use the pictures in my blog post about feeding baby rabbits that show what the belly should look like when fed properly: https://jaimielistens.com/how-to-feed-orphaned-baby-rabbits/
I know this seems overwhelming, but just do the best you can. While he has a higher chance of dying, since rabbits are difficult to hand raise, he has a 100% chance of dying if you don’t try. Besides, this is a wonderful chance for you and your sister to learn a lot about baby bunnies together. 🙂 And, I know what you mean about the squirt gun thing! It startled me too the first time. No warning at all. Hahaha!
I think it’s so awesome you are working so hard to save your baby bunny!
Anu Elsa Saji says
Thanks for the info,It was great but it died today……Not sure why but when we came to feed it today morning he was dead….
Thanks for the help though!
I am really sorry to hear that! At least you tried your best, and you got to learn more about rabbits. You are very welcome for the help. 🙂