A Windsor, Ont., animal rescue shelter that specializes in the care of rabbits is warning parents to not buy bunnies for their kids this weekend.
Jen Hilbers, the founder of Tiny Paws Small Animal Rescue, has implemented a moratorium on rabbit adoptions until April because she says too many people end up not being able to care for their new addition to the family.
Despite currently nursing three rabbits back to health right now and having an additional 11 looking for a new home, the care centre will put none up for adoption until April 1.
"We find a lot of people at Easter time, on an impulse, think it's cute to go out and buy their children a baby bunny," she said. "But rabbits require a lot of care and they need to see an exotic vet. A lot of people aren't prepared for the situation they're going to get into when they buy a baby bunny."
Hilbers said people aren't aware of the work and special care a rabbit requires.
Some facts and tips about pet rabbits include:
- They can live for 12 years.
- They chew, so your home needs to be "bunny proofed."
- They should not be kept in hutches.
- They need space.
- They should be allowed to live like a cat or dog.
- They can be house trained.
- They should be spayed and neutered because males spray when they reach sexual maturity.
"They don't usually like to be held, so they're not a great pet for children," Hilbers said. "They're good for people who are working because they sleep most of the day."
Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk, she said.
Hilbers said her rescue is about begin its "worst time of the year."
"Last year's Easter bunnies are being dumped in the wild. And anybody who goes out to get baby bunnies now, they're going to realize in about two months a bunny isn't right for them," she warned. "For the next 1-3 months, we're going to get a lot of calls to take in bunnies that aren't wanted."
The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society is also asking people to reconsider buying pet rabbits at Easter.
"How many of the toys you bought for your kids at Christmas are they still playing with now?" a post on the society's Facebook page reads. "Thousands of rabbits are abandoned every year because children lose interest. Rabbits are a 10-year commitment. A hutch is not enough."
It's using the hashtag #MakeMineChocolate on Twitter to encourage people to buy chocolate bunnies rather than furry ones.