Think Twice Before Purchasing a Live Easter Bunny

 

 Newtown Square, Pa.— As Easter approaches, many people impulsively buy a cute baby bunny without being aware of all that is involved in caring for them. Sadly, many bunnies are adopted at Easter and are then soon left to fend for themselves when the novelty of caring for them wears off. People often let them go into the wild, where they cannot fend for themselves and often meet with horrible fates. This phenomenon, because it has become so prominent, has been coined “Easter bunny dumps” by many.

 

For example, after the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) received a call about an abandoned rabbit living in a cage in the basement of an apartment complex on the Main Line last June, an ACDC Volunteer went and rescued the rabbit, appropriately naming her Hope. The basement from which Hope was rescued was littered with liquor bottles, dirty clothes, and trash. Hope had only a tiny bottle of water, but no food. It is quite likely that Hope had been adopted as a cute baby bunny and given as an Easter present. However, as she grew, the novelty wore off, leaving the adopter to abandon her. Hope was in such poor shape when she was rescued that it was thought little could be done to help her.

 “Rabbits are not easy, low maintenance "starter" pets. Their initial low cost often means people purchase them on a whim. However, rabbits can live up to 10 years and require as much care and attention as dogs and cats,” says Lori Busch, ACDC’s Rabbit Director. “With Easter just around the corner, this is the perfect time to make people aware of what is involved in caring for a rabbit.”

 

Hopeful Signs

When rescued, Hope had a very low heart rate, was extremely dehydrated, and was diagnosed with head tilt syndrome, a condition which causes an animal’s head to range from a couple of degrees to 180 degrees off the normal position. Hope’s case was so advanced that her head was almost touching the ground. Animals with head tilt can often fall over, have trouble standing, and easily develop eye infections.

 

ACDC got Hope to Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital in Morton, Pa. While her case seemed hopeless, Hope’s foster mom and the vet saw a determined bunny who was ready to fight. They decided to see if they could save her—and so far, she’s beaten the odds. While she is on several medications and has had several vet visits—the cost of which has been covered by ACDC—her head had returned to normal, but then began to droop again. She could continue to have several relapses throughout her life. The cost of her care has already run ACDC more than $800 and unfortunately, Hope may never be fully cured.

 People thinking of adopting a rabbit should know that they are intelligent, fascinating, and social animals who need affection and constant care. They can become wonderful companion animals if given proper care and the opportunity to interact with their human families. Rabbits should be spayed or neutered and they can then be litter-trained. Just like cats and dogs, rabbits can be allowed to roam free throughout your home. Most cats and dogs get along well with rabbits. Rabbits should be seen by a veterinarian who treats rabbits at least once annually for a wellness exam.

Here are some additional tips about caring for rabbits:

 Cages & Exercise

  • A rabbit’s cage should be at least five times the size of the rabbit. Cages should be cleaned at least once a week. In a wire cage, provide an area that is made from a solid material such as a non-skid fleece mat. Wire surfaces can cause rabbit to develop ulcers on the bottom of their paws. Mats help prevent this.
  • Rabbits need several hours of daily exercise and should be provided with an exercise pen. It is recommended that the pen be 36” high to ensure the rabbit cannot jump out.
  • Rabbits should not be kept outside.
  • Be sure to rabbit-proof your house for indoor play. Rabbits will chew everything including rugs, drapes, and electrical cords.

Grooming

  • Groom your rabbit daily with a flea comb or slicker brush.
  • Rabbits need to have their nails trimmed about every eight weeks.

Handling

  • Always support your rabbit's forelimbs and hindquarters. Improper handling can cause spinal injuries.
  • Never pick up a rabbit by the ears. 

Litter-Training

  • Litter boxes should be lined with grass products such as Carefresh or Yesterday’s News Unscented.
  • Avoid clumping and clay litters, as well as corn cob litter and wood shavings such as cedar and pine. These can be extremely harmful to rabbits, often causing intestinal problems.

Feeding

  • Rabbits require a diet rich in vitamins and high in fiber. At all times, they should have access to grass hays such as timothy and orchard grass hay. Alfalfa hay is not recommended for adult rabbits.
  • Avoid pellets that contain nuts and grains.
  • Rabbits who are eight months or older should also been given commercial rabbits pellets such as Bunny Basics T pellets.
  • Rabbits younger than eight months should be offered unlimited access to plain alfalfa pellets. Limiting the pellets in young rabbits can have a devastating effect.
  • Green, leafy vegetables are crucial. Try lettuce basil, parsley, and broccoli leaves, as well as carrots and squash. (One cup per every four pounds of weight)
  • Fruits, grains, cereals, and breads should only be given in limited amounts because excesses can lead to fatal diarrheas. Limit fruit to no more than two tablespoons, and stick to the high fiber fruits like apples, pears, and raspberries. Avoid fruits with high sugar content such as bananas and grapes.
  • Rabbits should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Water should be in a water bottle or heavy bowl. Change water daily and disinfect the bottle/bowl once a week. 

To see the rabbits ACDC has available for adoption, visit www.acdc.ws or call 610.876.1479. When people adopt through ACDC, they are given all the support they need in learning to care for their new rabbit.

 

About the Animal Coalition of Delaware County

Founded in 2004, the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit animal rescue organization primarily serving Pennsylvania’s Delaware County. Run entirely by volunteers, the organization rescues and places animals—dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs—in screened and loving foster homes where they are socialized and well-cared for until they find permanent adoptive homes. Each animal rescued by ACDC receives a veterinary examination, is vaccinated, and has been spayed or neutered if they are old enough—the cost of which is all covered by ACDC. Since its founding, ACDC estimates it has rescued and found homes for more than 1,300 animals. Animals remain in ACDC’s foster care until they are adopted. To learn more, call 610-876-1479, visit www.acdc.ws, or visit the organization’s Adoption Center located at the PetSmart in the Marple Crossings Shopping Center at 400 S. State Road in Springfield, Pa.

 

Photo Caption – Hope was rescued by the Animal Coalition of Delaware County. It is believed that she was one of the many Easter bunnies that are dumped each year when the novelty of having a cute baby bunny wears off and the reality of caring for a rabbit sets in. When rescued, Hope was in such poor shape that it was believed little could be done to save her.