Kevin has graciously allowed me to use this space today to inveigh against one of the most pernicious creatures around: the Easter Bunny.
No, not the antrophomorphic critter that wanders from house to house, leaving baskets and multicolored eggs in his wake. I’m against the other Easter Bunnies. The cute, hopping, fuzzy critters, that some parents give their kids as Easter presents.
What’s the big deal? A lot, actually.
The House Rabbit Society sums it up pretty well in a press release:
Every summer, the House Rabbit Society receives a barrage of calls from people who have tired of the “Easter gifts” they purchased for their children just a few months before. Adolescent bunnies who have outgrown their baby cuteness and worn out as a novelty are relinquished to shelters, “set free,” or ignored in backyard hutches.
The problem occurs when well-intentioned adults are seduced by the cuddliness of soft, furry baby bunnies that are heavily promoted in pre-Easter sales at pet stores. On impulse, they buy a bunny to surprise their child at Easter — not realizing that rabbits need adults as primary caretakers. Education and a little thoughtfulness could prevent the neglect, abandonment, and euthanasia that often occur in the months following Easter.
Are you starting to get the picture. Cute little bun-bun doesn’t stay cute little bun-bun for long. Within a few months, cute little bun-bun is going to get bigger, start chewing on the walls and furniture, and being a rabbit, will probably direct unwelcome romantic attentions toward other housepets, the furniture, and possibly your leg. Sounds pleasant, no?
But since the rabbit is out of the basket already and families already have their cute little bun-buns, a few tips are in order.
First, consult the care section of the House Rabbit Society’s Web site. There, you’re going to learn much of what you need to know about caring for cute little bun-bun, including the importance of spaying, cute little bun-bun’s proper diet, and how to litter-train cute little bun-bun.
Second, get the to the Yellow Pages. Look under “V” for “Veterinarian,” and find gentle, experienced doctor who specializes in exotics. Take cute little bun-bun down to see the veterinarian ASAP for a general checkup — to make sure cute little bun-bun isn’t sick — and to schedule an appointment for cute little bun-bun to get snip-snipped.
I can’t emphasize how important this step is. Actually, let the House Rabbit Society emphasize this:
Altered rabbits are healthier and live longer than unaltered rabbits. The risk of reproductive cancers (ovarian, uterine, mammarian) for an unspayed female rabbit stands at is virtually eliminated by spaying your female rabbit. Your neutered male rabbit will live longer as well, given that he won’t be tempted to fight with other animals (rabbits, cats, etc.) due to his sexual aggression.
By the way, they’re not kidding about that one. A former co-worker of mine, sometime ago, discovered that little factoid when his cute little bunbun decided kittykat was a girl bunbun. Not very pleasant for the kittykat.
Third step. Look up your local chapter of the House Rabbit Society. Nobody knows domesticated rabbits better than the Society, so they’re going to be an invaluable resource for you. On top of that, theyr’e the only people who won’t say “You have a what?” when you describe your pet to them.
If you got your child a pet rabbit for Easter, you probably made a mistake. It’s easy to think of cute little bunbun as a rather large hamster or guinea pig — after all, the teeth are kind of shaped the same, and they all live in cages, right? Not quite. I know from experience that owning a rabbit is less like owning a rodent and more like owning a small, hopping cat, complete with a litterbox that needs cleaning, fur that needs petting, and, as bunbun ages, medicine that must be administered to an often uncooperative animal.
Please, if you bought a rabbit for your young children this Easter, take responsibility for the rabbit, educate yourself, and dedicate at least some of your time to its well-being. And by the way … don’t even think of setting bubun loose in the wild. If you bought bunbun at a pet store or from a breeder, then bubun has probably never known existence in the wild … and like most domesticated animals, bunbun is going to lack some essential survival skills.