Surprising Must Know Facts About Bunnies As Pets For Kids

Easter is fast approaching - which means sad times are on the horizon for some cute baby animals. A smiling child in an adorable outfit clutches a cute baby bunny in her arms. What's wrong with this picture?

Contrary to Eastertime hype, rabbits and small children are not a good match.

Buying Easter Pets Often Leads to Abandonment! Animal advocacy organizations, strongly recommends that parents should not buy their children live Easter animals. 

Annually, thousands of baby rabbits, chicks, and ducks are purchased as Easter gifts, only to be abandoned or left at shelters in the days, weeks and months that follow Easter.

It may seem like a fun idea to buy your child a real-live, cute and cuddly Easter bunny, chick or duck, but doing so may endanger an innocent animal, which is never a good lesson to teach children. 

It Teaches Cruelty

Taking in an animal for pure amusement is unfair and cruel to the animal in question. Many states even allow appalling practices such as dyeing little chicks and bunnies to make them more appealing to young children. 

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) notes, “Every year, animal shelters receive a surge of unwanted Easter pets who are given up after the owners have lost interest or are unable to care for them.

Keeping rabbits as pets is a BIG responsibility and not just a passing whim, phase or game. Teaching responsibility is a great lesson for a child but at what expense? A rabbit's life?

Unfortunately, many are euthanized due to lack of available homes.” So those cute little animals are killed, just so a child can get a day or two of pleasure? What is this teaching your child? It’s teaching your child that animals are expendable, non-worthy creatures.

The natural exuberance, rambunctiousness and decibel-level of even the gentlest toddler are stressful for the sensitive rabbit. It is the rare child who will enjoy and appreciate the rabbit's subtle and sensitive nature.

Another misconception is that rabbits are passive and cuddly. They are ground-loving creatures who feel frightened and insecure when held and restrained.

Children are naturally loving. However, “loving” to a small child often means holding, cuddling and carrying an animal around—behaviors that make most rabbits feel insecure and frightened, as they would in the grasp of a predator.

Many rabbits are accidentally dropped by children, resulting in broken legs and backs. When mishandled, rabbits who scratch or bite to protect themselves are often surrendered to shelters, where they may be euthanized for “bad behavior.”

It is unreasonable to expect a child to be able to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, or to make a 10-year commitment to anything! All too often, the child loses interest, and the rabbit ends up neglected or abandoned.

Easter Animals DO NOT Live Happily in the Wild

To avoid taking an Easter animal to a shelter, and possibly in an effort to be kind, many families release their cute Easter critters into the wild, which may seem better than a shelter where they will most likely be killed, but it’s not. 

HSUS notes, “Some animals given as gifts are released into the wild when people tire of them. However, these animals are domestic species. They’re unable to fend for themselves and usually die of starvation or exposure to the elements, or are preyed upon by other animals.” 

It’s not just chicks and bunnies either, even the more wild seeming ducks fair poorly in nature. Live Ducks notes that, “A duck dumped into a public pond or lake will likely not survive until its 1st birthday.”

Some people think rabbits are a "low-maintenance" pet. In fact, they require almost as much work as a dog.

They must be housetrained. The house must be bunny-proofed, or Thumper will chew electrical cords, rugs, books, and furniture. They must be spayed or neutered, or they will mark your house with feces and urine. 

They must live indoors, as members of the family. Rabbits kept in hutches outdoors have an average lifespan of about one year; house rabbits can live 8 to 10 years.

Predators abound, not only in rural areas but in urban and suburban locations as well. Outdoor rabbits become bored and depressed from isolation. To consign these sensitive, intelligent, social animals to life in a hutch is to miss all the joy of sharing your life with a rabbit. Unless he's part of your daily routine, you will not have the opportunity to really get to know his subtle personality.

It’s Unhealthy

When cared for with certain safety precautions in place, animals are perfectly safe. However they can also pose a health danger to small children. The CDC notes, “Young birds often carry harmful bacteria called Salmonella

Each spring some children become infected with Salmonella after receiving a baby chick or duckling for Easter. Harmful bacteria carried in the chick’s and duckling’s intestine contaminates their environment and the entire surface of the animal. 

Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds.” Children are very susceptible to these dangers because they tend to cuddle birds, then stick their fingers in their mouths. However, the CDC says that anyone who is sick, has an infection, the elderly and/or pregnant women are also at risk.

Clearly, rabbits are not for everyone! Are you a gentle adult who lives in a quiet household? Are you eager to get to know rabbits on their own terms - to spend time down at their level, on the floor; to allow the rabbit to initiate gestures of friendship and trust? 

If you think you are one of those rare individuals who would enjoy sharing life with a rabbit, please visit your local animal shelter or rabbit-rescue group. As rabbits have increased in popularity, they are suffering the same fate as our other companion animals - abandonment.

Alternative, Ethical Easter Animal Ideas

There are plenty of ways to expose your child to Easter-minded creatures that won’t result in death and pain for animals. Instead of buying a tiny bunny, chick or duck this Easter, try the following instead.
  • Visit an animal sanctuary or rescue group. There your child will meet and learn about all kinds of animals that are well cared for.
  • Visit an animal shelter or local rabbit or chicken rescue.
  • Read a book about bunnies or chicks.
  • Make some Easter animal crafts.
  • Give your child a stuffed Easter animal, animal playset or a tasty chocolate critter.
  • If your children are older and ready for a pet and you’d like to get a rabbit or chick, adopt from a shelter.
  • If you REALLY, honestly cannot manage Easter without a critter, consider renting a chick. Ethical – no, because it’s unnecessary, but it is better than buying a chick and discarding it.
You can also check your local veterinary clinic and "Pets" classifieds of your newspaper. It's a sad fact that no matter where you live, you are within 10 miles of a rabbit who needs a home. The effort made to find that special bunny means you are saving a life.

So if little Susie is pleading for a bunny or a little chick for Easter, do them a favor, and buy her a toy rabbit that she can snuggle to her heart's content. Let's make Easter a joyful time for our furry friends friends.