By C. Aileen Blaine
As Easter approaches, we’re bombarded everywhere we go with images of rabbits: Peter Cottontail and his adorable little jacket; the Easter Bunny with his basket of eggs and jelly beans. Springtime means hippity-hoppiters in our yards munching on the newly green grass.
It also means some individuals are overcome with the urge to visit a pet store and purchase a small bun as a surprise gift for a loved one.
While rabbits are without a doubt sweet, loveable and squishable little creatures in every right, they’re also a much larger commitment than an uninitiated person may realize. As a popular choice of pet in the United States, many people assume that they’re easy “starter pets.” However, this couldn’t be farther from reality.
I’ll use my rabbit Covfefe — and yes, he’s sarcastically named after the Tweet made by former President Donald Trump — as an example of how extensive proper care can be.
Last month, my little boy decided to eat one of my hair ties. It took two visits to the vet to determine the cause of his drooling and erratic behaviors, all to the tune of a “measly” $310. Of course, he’s more than worth it for all the sunshine he brings into my life, but for a college student writing for the school newspaper, $300 is a lot of money!
I happen to be a huge advocate for free-roaming rabbits. They’re very energetic creatures and very curious. Contrary to popular belief, a cage is no place for a bunny. Their personalities only truly blossom when they have room to explore and exercise. You can train them to use a litterbox, but this takes time, consistency and lots of positive reinforcement. If you wouldn’t keep your cat or dog cooped up in a kennel for an extended period of time, you shouldn’t do so with your rabbit, either.
And if you do decide you’re comfortable with a bun prowling about the place, you’ll have to be certain all valuables are out of reach. As much as Covfefe loves to eat hair ties, he loves books, electrical cords, homework and clothes even more. If you don’t want nibbles on your possessions, you’ll have to “bunny-proof” your home — and even then, safety is not always guaranteed as rabbits are notoriously good at jumping.
If we’re going to discuss bunny maintenance, it would be misleading if I didn’t mention the twice-yearly molt. Yes, much like reptiles and birds, rabbits shed their fluffy coats for the season’s latest style. This means fur everywhere — on your clothes, on your floors and sometimes even in your eyes and mouth. Brushing and grooming takes time and diligence, and some buns are known for absolutely abhorring this process.
I implore those of you who are tempted to pick up a small floofball this Easter to reconsider with these points in mind. While rabbits will always stay cute and fluffy, these qualities come with both a literal and figurative price tag. If you’re uncertain, I suggest sticking to the chocolate variety this Easter.