Easter Bunny blues: Pet rabbits need lots of love


Aside from inspiring many people to dye eggs, the Easter Bunny is also cited as responsible for many ill-fated rabbit adoptions this season. Although the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society MCRS reports that the number of rabbits surrendered to shelters in MN has gone down lately (approximately 700 in 2012 instead of 1000 in years past), there are still many rabbits lacking good homes due to their failure to live up to certain expectations.

Luke Stultz, President of MCRS, summarized the problem, saying “People don’t realize they’re more work than a cat or a dog.” MCRS Marketing and Public Relations Volunteer Shelly Chirhart concurred, calling rabbits, “High maintenance pets,” but added, “They do make wonderful pets, but you’ve gotta spend a fair amount of time with them.”

This past year MCRS took in 64 surrendered rabbits from other organizations and adopted out 54. To help prevent folks from adopting rabbits and then finding them to fall short of their expectations, MCRS hosts free Bunny Basics classes for prospective rabbit owners every month at the Animal Humane Society in their Woodbury and Golden Valley locations. MCRS also invites the public to attend Hoppy Hour every other Sunday for rabbit socialization. Rabbits of any origin and their owners can participate in these events. The MCRS website lists upcoming events as well as extensive information on rabbit care.

Chirhart also recommends House Rabbit Society for further information on companion rabbits. “As long as you do your research and can commit to the needs of a rabbit, you’re fine,” concluded Stultz.


(Photos by Amy Meier)

Common myths and facts about rabbits:

Myth 1) Rabbits are low maintenance pets.
Fact: Their DAILY requirements include: 2-3 hours of interaction with humans to prevent behavioral problems; litter box changes to replace layers of wood pellets, Timothy hay, and orchard grass; access to hay at all times; feedings including fresh greens; and careful monitoring of their health as prey animals tend to hide their illnesses.

Myth 2) Rabbits like to be held.
Fact: Rabbits are fragile and rough handling easily leads to broken bones or broken backs. The recommended way to play with your rabbit is to sit on the floor and let the rabbit come to you.

Myth 3) Rabbits can be kept outdoors.
Fact: They should not be kept outdoors due to predators, temperature extremes, insects, and other threats. Pet rabbits especially cannot be turned loose in the wild as they are not equipped with the skills necessary to survive on their own.

Myth 4) Rabbits are a short-term commitment.
Fact: Rabbits are a 10 year commitment at least and MCRS has reportedly seen many teenage rabbits.

Myth 5) Carrots are always rabbits’ favorite food.
Fact: Tastes vary, but many prefer bananas.

Myth 6) Rabbits are nocturnal.
Fact:Their most active periods are at dawn and dusk.