There haven’t been any rabbits featured in the adoption column for the past couple of weeks, and there won’t be any this week, either. This is because of what I wanted to refer to as the Easter Bunny Syndrome, but that term has already been seized upon as being the aversion to eating rabbits by people who do eat meat.
I’m going to appropriate it anyway—my idea of an Easter Bunny Syndrome is this: a child clamors for an Easter bunny, and the adult says, “Let’s go buy/adopt a bunny for Junior/Sissy for Easter!” If they haven’t done rabbit research and thus sworn to a lifetime commitment, the little guy will be dropped off in a shelter where there will be more of a chance of a rescue pull or an adoption. More than likely, though, it’ll be dumped in a park or at a college campus in the erroneous belief that a domestic rabbit will do just dandy in its “natural environment.” Which it won’t—it’ll be subject to predators, attacks by wild rabbits, cold and heat, and poison.
This makes people like rabbit roommate Kieara Carroll madder than a March hare.
“It’s a bit irresponsible,” Carroll said. “Bunnies that everyone purchases are domestic rabbits. They never had to get food for themselves. If people dump them, they’ll be prey or die. They can’t defend themselves. That’s the saddest part about people getting a bunny as a hasty decision.”
Carroll and her boyfriend, Ryan Sanchez, live with Darius Bunnington, named for Carroll’s boss, Darius Barrington. Carroll said that dumping particularly despicable because the rabbit has already formed a bond with the humans, and throwing one out to fend for itself after bonding is cruel and stressful, as it is with any discarded pet.
Darius Bunnington ready for his closeup after a good brushing. Grooming your bunny gets rid of stray hares. Sorry. Photo by Kieara Carroll.
Bunny parent Michelle Crow has firsthand experience with an abandoned rabbit. She rescued her first rabbit from a friend who was overrun with pets. She found the one she has now, a mini lop she called Chibi, abandoned in the parking lot of her workplace.
“All of my coworkers and I thought, well, he has to be an Easter bunny because it was springtime, and it was around Easter time,” she said. “His age was too perfect—his balls dropped the next month, so I knew he was four or five months old.”
Chibi was malnourished—apparently the “natural environment” wasn’t kind to him—but Crow took care of that pretty quickly. He’s thrived in her care and is now 4 years old.
Chibi has no complaints now. He’s cute as a bunny, but he’s not a toy. Photo courtesy of Michelle Crow
If you’re thinking of getting a rabbit (and please adopt; don’t buy them on social media from breeders—where do the unadopted bunnies wind up? In the parks? In parking lots? Relinquished to the previously alluded-to stewpot?), here are some guidelines that Crow strongly advises anyone who wants to bring home a bunny to take seriously.
Get your rabbit fixed, and make sure that you choose a vet that has experience in altering and otherwise treating rabbits.
“There are quite a few around,” Crow said. “If the vet knows a lot about rabbits, I’d go with them, but simply dog or cat veterinarians, no. Rabbits are sensitive, particular animals.”
Without the spay/neuter procedure, Crow said, the combination of hormones, territory markings and Energizer Bunny activity will be overwhelming for both you and the bun. It’s good for the health of the rabbit as well. Several resources indicate a large percentage—80 percent or more—of an unfixed rabbit developing uterine, mammarian or ovarian cancer, and males can develop testicular cancer. A male rabbit without his huevos will be even less of an Easter bunny. (More information on altering a rabbit is available here.)
Dr. Walter Rosskopf, owner of the Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital in Hawthorne, readies Chibi for his neuter. Photo courtesy of Michelle Crow.
Bunny-proof your house. This is imperative for protecting yourself and your rabbit. Rabbits are chewers and gnawers, and an encounter between a rabbit and an electrical cord will be disastrous. Anything you’re OK with losing and that’s not harmful to the rabbit, Crow said, will be fine. She takes great pains to keep any electrical cords out of Chibi’s reach and to encase the others in strong plastic tubing. Keep houseplants out of the bunny’s way as well—his (or her) inner Peter Rabbit will come out in force, and those plants may be bad for the bunny. Read more about rabbit proofing here .
Bugs Bunny and other celebrity and visible rabbits may constantly chew on carrots, but a rabbit’s diet should primarily be alfalfa or timothy hay. The House Rabbit Society, a national organization dedicated strictly to rabbit welfare, offers comprehensive details for feeding. Besides the hay, rabbits should have at least one cup of vegetables for each four pounds of body weight and one to two tablespoons of non-sugary, high-fiber fruits, such as apples, plums and strawberries. And make sure that the little nibbler stays far away from human food like cookies, crackers and especially chocolate, which is toxic to bunnies.
Greens are good for bunnies, and Chibi would agree. Photo courtesy of Michelle Crow.
THE SCRATCHING POST: There haven’t been any rabbits featured in our adoption column for the past couple of weeks, and there won’t be any this week, either. #EasterBunnySyndrome
🐰Read more: https://lbpost.com/life/pets/madder-than-a-march-hare/
Posted by Long Beach Post on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
So would Darius Bunnington. Video courtesy of Kieara Carroll.
Toys are important. Rabbit teeth have the unusual characteristic of continuously growing, and they gnaw on things to wear them down. Crow said that there are plenty of commercially made rabbit toys, and they love to chew up cardboard toilet-paper and paper-towel rolls.
Bunnies shouldn’t be confined to a cage 24/7, if at all. “They need lots of space, and they need run time,” Crow said. And the good news is that they can be box-trained as easily as cats; older rabbits train more quickly than babies. Crow said that Chibi readily deposits his liquid and most of his solid waste, aka pills, in his box.
“Rabbit poop is dry, so I can just vacuum it up,” Crow said.
Chibi has a sizeable play area with food, water, and plenty of diversions and space. Photo courtesy of Michelle Crow.
Bonding with humans, said both Crow and Carroll, is essential and may take some time.
“You can’t just take a bunny in—you need to give them time and space,” Carroll said. “They’re prey animals, so you have to work for their love and trust. We’re bigger than them, and we’re louder than them. We’ve had Darius just for a year, and we had to work on a bond.”
Bonding with other animals is essential as well if there are others in the house or if you want to get a bunny friend for your rabbit. Crow said that rabbits ideally should be paired by opposite gender—spayed and neutered, of course,—but her vet said that pairing isn’t necessary.
“It takes a long time to bond—there can be aggressive territory fights,” Crow said. “But that’s not to say that they shouldn’t get another rabbit. You have to introduce them slowly and keep them separated for a while as well. This goes for other animals in the house.”
Carroll and Sanchez were out a little over a week away from Easter, looking to adopt a female rabbit they’d seen at a pet-supply store as a companion for Darius Bunnington.
“I didn’t even think of Easter being that close,” Carroll said. “We wanted opposite-sex companionship for our bunny, especially when we’re not at home.”
The two planned a meet-and-greet for Darius and the rabbit, but someone hopped in ahead of them and adopted the little girl. Carroll was disappointed; Sanchez, however, was bleakly philosophical.
“He told me not to worry—that there’ll be plenty of rabbits to adopt a couple of weeks after Easter,” Carroll said.
Graphic by Make Mine Chocolate, UK rabbit welfare organization.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
~ Margery Williams
“They’re not toys. They take a lot of work and patience.”
~ Kieara Carrol