Say no to Easter bunnies -- unless you're serious
Every year at this time I get an uneasy feeling when I see the plastic tank extra full of adorable bunnies at the pet store. It's as if they pick the smallest, cutest ones to put out. Sometimes they even have the gall to advertise them as seasonal gifts, with messages like "Great for Easter!" written on cards and taped right to the plastic.
I'm a nine-year rabbit owner, and I love the rabbits I've raised (pictured above). But I bought them completely unprepared for the responsibility they require.
I beg you: Please don't impulse buy rabbits for Easter.
• The fluffy handfuls you see in the store will become shedding, scratching, chewing armfuls in no time. "But they're awfully cute" and "because I love them" will become your mantra for explaining why you put up with their mess.And you don't have to take my word for it. Visit the Interactive Bun, care of the House Rabbit Society's Make Mine Chocolate! campaign.
• Rabbits offer affections in subtle ways, unlike dogs and cats that enjoy being cuddled and carried. It's easy to lose interest, especially for children, unless you understand their language.
• Pet store bunnies are kept in small enclosures, on a bed of cedar chips, nibbling on a bowl of plain pellets. But they'll need more than that in their permanent home. They'll need a spacious cage and room that's completely rabbit-proof to exercise, or a suitable outdoor hutch -- and don't even get me started on replacing frozen water bottles during the winter.
• A rabbit needs nutritious food and a constant stream of timothy hay and greens. Males will need to be neutered to stop spraying, and females will need to be spayed to avoid cancer. A rabbit will need your diligence in cleaning its cage, and if you don't have time to play, a solitary rabbit will also need a playmate. Requiring more cleaning, more hay, more $$$. You get the picture.
• Rabbits are considered "exotics," believe it or not, and vets for exotics are more expensive.
• Also, rabbits can live much longer than you think. My 7 1/2-year-old Sky just passed this winter, and Sherbert will turn 9 in June. He doesn't even like me that much, so my job is essentially thankless ... but that's another blog altogether.
Only with this understanding do I recommend getting a rabbit this Easter. And in that case, please don't support the tireless pet store bunny trade.
Adopt a shelter rabbit. Didn't know shelters had rabbits? Neither did I until a few years ago. Thankfully one adoption Web site is working to increase awareness.
Just last week Adopt-a-Pet.com, which already has an extensive database of more than 100,000 dogs and cats available for adoption nationwide, finally expanded its database to include rabbits, horses, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, farm-type animals and other small pets.
The site lists Dos, a friendly black rabbit at the Ashtabula County Humane Society (440-969-6100, email@example.com).
From a quick call to the Lake Humane Society I've learned that Penelope, a black and white rabbit, is also waiting for a home (440-951-6122, firstname.lastname@example.org).
I miss Sky endlessly, but I won't miss being a rabbit owner after Sherbert goes. To care for them properly is expensive and time-consuming -- a real labor of love. Anyone still considering a pet store bunny, please e-mail me and allow me one more swing at talking you out of it.
Otherwise consider Dos or Penelope, who may not see next Easter without some help.
-- Sandra M. Klepach, SKlepach@News-Herald.com