Rabbit Experts Worried

By Steve Dale

There are giant rabbit
sculptures in Las Vegas. Art displays of rabbits have been a hit in Cleveland.

P1070565.JPG

Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas celebrates Easter and Year of the rabbit

This is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, and cities are celebrating with
rabbit-related events and activities, as are various Chinese neighborhoods
around the country. With Easter approaching (April 24), rabbit advocates are
bracing for a perfect storm of impulsive rabbit purchases.

year of  the rabbit.jpg

2011 is the Year if the Rabbut

 

As a result, shelters and
rabbit rescue organizations could be overwhelmed with homeless rabbits.

 

rabbit.jpg

"Rabbits are not as low
maintenance as some people think, and they're not a pet for every family,"
says Jacelyn Heng, president of the Singapore House Rabbit Society. In an
interview conducted via Skype, Heng adds, "People have so many
misconceptions about rabbits."

 

The most noteworthy
mistaken belief is that bunnies are wonderful pets for young children.

"Children like to carry
things around, and rabbits detest being carried around," says Mary Cotter,
vice president of the International House Rabbit Society. In fact, rabbits are
probably downright acrophobic.

 child holding rabbit.jpg

This rabbit may actually be terrified

"Young children, being the primates they are,
like to hold, squeeze and hug, and that makes perfect sense," adds Cotter,
based in New York City. "But for rabbits, the things which hold and
squeeze them may want to kill them."

 

rabbit scaring child.jpg

Now the rabbit is on the other foot...young children don't like to be held by giant rabbits any more than pet rabbits like to be carried around by children

Cotter adds, "Children
are also unpredictable, and rabbits are most comfortable in predictable
surroundings."

 

Rabbits are the most common
small animal pet in both Singapore and America. Many people do enjoy keeping pet
rabbits.

 

"I think they're a great
pet for people who like to watch nature shows," says Cotter. "They're
not as interactive as dogs or cats, Though rabbits appreciate our affection;
it's on their terms."

 

Heng says most owners spay or
neuter their rabbits. Intact pet rabbits are often given up because they become
unpredictable and occasionally, aggressive. Also, the risk of reproductive
cancers is significantly less when rabbits are spayed.

 

Rabbits and folklore seem to
go hand in hand. According to many websites, people born in the Chinese Year of
The rabbit are sensitive but sometimes on their guard (an accurate description
of the demeanor of many rabbits). Of course, a rabbit's foot is considered a
good luck charm.

Easter eggs rabbits.jpg

Rabbits lay eggs? They reproduce so fast they might as well.

And for centuries rabbits have been associated with Easter.

 

"I've heard so many
stories," says Cotter. "It seems no one really knows how it all began."
Easter could have been associated with roosters, cows or giraffes; no one knows
how rabbits were chosen. Edible Easter bunnies were a German dessert pastry,
dating back to the 1800s. Later came Easter egg hunts, stuffed Easter bunnies
and eventually, the Giant Easter Bunny strolling the mall, munching on a 3-foot
carrot.

 

Of course, rabbits do like
carrots. However, because of their relatively high sugar content, carrots
should only be an occasional snack. What rabbits require daily is a grass hay, such
as Timothy hay, Brome hay, or meadow grass. Various lettuces and manufactured
rabbit diets should be used to supplement the hay.

 

pet rsbbit.jpg

No one can deny the 'cute factor'

Rabbits are popular in
Singapore and major metro areas in the U.S. because they make ideal apartment
and condominium pets. They don't need to be walked, nor do they require lots of
space. Neighbors rarely complain about their barking. They're clean pets, and
easily litter box-trained.

 

When a rabbit is acting
"a little off," a vet visit is in order. While they're subtle about
illness, just as dogs and cats need regular veterinary care, so do rabbits.

make mine chocolate.jpg

Until you really think it through - and for some families, rabbits are indeed great pets...then stick with a chocolate bunny for Easter

 

"They are a commitment,
which people don't think about when they first get them because they're so cute
as bunnies," Heng says.

 

Cotter and Heng agree on one
impulse rabbit purchase: a chocolate bunny.

 

Click here to learn more about rabbits by checking out the House Rabbit Society.

 

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    Steve Dale

    Dog/Cat Behavior Consultant; pet advocate; broadcaster, journalist

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