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Down the rabbit hole: Why a pet bunny may not be the best Easter gift

Animal experts say many rabbits end up in shelters once owners realize how difficult it is to care for them.
Credit: t.paisit - stock.adobe.com

TAMPA, Fla. — If you're thinking of getting a pet bunny this Easter, local animal experts say you may want to opt for the chocolate kind instead.

Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, Pasco County Animal Services and The Humane Society of Tampa Bay are teaming up to educate the public about rabbit ownership in an effort to stop the overpopulation issue.

Every year, rabbit sales spike around Easter, but once new owners realize how difficult and expensive proper rabbit care can be, many of those pets end up in animal shelters, the organizations explain.

Unfortunately, many of those pet rabbits are also released into the wild where they are unable to fend for themselves.

The three animal shelters will be holding a news conference on Monday, April 4, to explain the ins and outs of rabbit ownership and discuss ways to adopt instead of shop.

They also gave a few things to consider before adopting a rabbit:

  • They're not cuddly: Rabbits generally don't like to be picked up or cuddled. Improper handling can cause serious injury to the animals.
  • They're expensive: Between food, bedding, veterinary care and grooming supplies, rabbits can cost hundreds of dollars a year.
  • They can be destructive: Rabbits like to chew on things around the house and if not potty trained, can have accidents.
  • They require specialized care: Rabbits need daily exercise, special foods, should be brushed often and should be kept indoors. They also need to be vaccinated and aren't easily litter box trained.
  • They can live up to a decade or more: Like other pets, rabbits can have more medical issues as they get older.
  • They should be spayed or neutered: Rabbits that aren't spayed or neutered can exhibit anti-social behaviors and contribute to overpopulation.

The local animal shelters say a better option for a child who wants to adopt a rabbit may be to adopt a cat or dog.

You can learn more about rabbit care and overpopulation on the Humane Society website.

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