The Easter Bunny: Should I Buy A Rabbit For My Child?

The Easter Bunny: Should I Buy A Rabbit For My Child?

Many parents buy rabbits for their children at Easter, due to the traditional association of the Easter Bunny and the fact that spring is coming up and people are spending more time in their gardens. This gift may bring happiness to your child, at least for a while, but do you know what you are letting yourself in for? Assuming you care about the rabbit’s happiness also, ask yourself these questions before you buy.

Can I afford to spend £200 to £300 on a decent hutch and attached exercise run?

The minimum RSPCA recommended hutch size for one rabbit is 6ft x 2ft x 2ft and rabbits need a great deal of exercise in a large enclosed, predator proof run in order to maintain a healthy bone structure. An alternative is to keep your rabbit indoors free range as a house rabbit, for which you will only need a litter tray but you must rabbit proof your house by protecting all cables, plants etc and your furniture and carpets may get damaged.

Can I afford to have the rabbit neutered / spayed and vaccinated?

Neutering (males) costs approx. £60 to £70 and spaying (females) costs approx. £80 to £100. 85% of unspayed females will die from uterine cancer before the age of 5. Vaccinations cost approx. £25 and must be done yearly for VHD and twice yearly for myxomatosis. VHD is widespread in the wild rabbit population, easily transmitted and causes death by bleeding from the mouth and bottom; the rabbit is in so much pain it may scream or cry – something no child should have to witness.

Can I provide a lifetime of healthcare to a sick rabbit?

By far the most common rabbit problem these days is dental disease, a condition where the teeth are overgrown or have spikes on them which cause the rabbit to stop eating. Dwarf and lop breeds are more prone to this disease genetically. A typical case of dental disease may involve teeth trimming under anaesthetic every 2 to 3 months at a cost of approx. £100 per treatment. Rabbits can live for up to 12 years and pet insurance policies will not cover dental disease. Therefore, a rabbit could end up costing you literally thousands of pounds.

To reduce the risk of dental disease, rabbits need to be fed a hay based diet to grind their teeth down and only small amounts of concentrate food (approx. 1 eggcup full daily) and a variety of fresh vegetables.

Can I ensure the rabbit is not suffering from loneliness?

Rabbits need almost constant companionship, from you or another rabbit (not a guinea pig, they will bully this). Ideally they should be kept in pairs of neutered male and spayed female and the easiest option is to adopt a bonded pair from a rescue centre. Lonely rabbits suffer from self mutilation, where they over groom themselves, pull fur out or pull at the bars on their hutch and damage their teeth. A single rabbit needs to be kept indoors so they can follow you around and bond with you.

Rabbits do make wonderful, rewarding pets. They are highly social, playful, loving and entertaining to watch. However, this comes at a price – a big commitment from their owners. It is true that you can simply buy a hutch and stick a rabbit in it but what’s the point? The rabbit will be suffering and you are gaining no pleasure from it as a pet. Rabbits don’t like being picked up and held, they like to play and explore at their own pace, at ground level. No wonder children lose interest in their rabbits – the question is, will you care for the rabbit when they do?

Copyright 2011 Hannah Davis / All Rights Reserved.