pearl river rabbit

A child pets a rabbit at Sugar Roots farm in New Orleans.

This weekend, as we celebrate Easter, a cute little bunny may seem like the perfect gift for the kids. But if you're considering getting a rabbit, think it through so that once the novelty wears off, the new family member doesn't seem more like a burden than a blessing.

The months following Easter bring a rise in rabbits being surrendered to shelters or even just set free outdoors to fend for themselves. Domesticated rabbits, however, are not the same as wild ones we see in nature and will not be able to survive on their own.

Here are some things to think about before adopting a bunny. They can be fun, awesome pets, but: 

  • Even though they are small, rabbits are not low maintenance. They need just as much care and attention as a cat or a dog.
  • Bunnies are fragile, and some can bite, so they aren't ideal pets for small children.
  • A pet rabbit cannot just be left in a cage in the backyard. They are sensitive to temperature and cannot be left in cold or heat. 
  • They also require love, attention, exercise, and room to roam and play.
  • A rabbit’s life span is 10 to 12 years, so they are a long-term commitment.
  •  Just like cats and dogs, they require vet care, spay/neuter and vaccinations.
  •  They have a special diet and require specific kinds of housing.
  •  They have distinct personalities. Some are cuddly, but some aren't and don't like to be held or carried around.
  • Other pets in the home can be frightening for a rabbit. Consider if the existing pets are “bunny friendly.”
  • Rabbits have high social demands and often do best in pairs.

If this is a commitment the family is ready to take on, the local parish shelter may be the first place to look, or contact a rabbit rescue, such as Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue, based in Baton Rouge, at www.magichappensrescue.com. They conduct adoptions across Louisiana and Mississippi.

If you can wait a month or so, there will be an influx of bunnies looking for new homes come May or June. Happy Easter!

Events

THURSDAY: The Louisiana SPCA is holding a volunteer orientation from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Preregistration is required at www.la-spca.org/volunteer.

SATURDAY: Join NOLA Tribe Yoga and the Louisiana SPCA for this one-of-a-kind yoga class with kittens. Not only do you get to have fun with kittens and yoga, but half of proceeds from each class go toward helping homeless animals. Check-in begins at 9:45 a.m. with class from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Prepurchase of tickets is required; go to /bit.ly/2Ec89Nc.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be outside Whole Foods Market, 3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, with adoptable dogs and information about volunteering and adopting from noon to 3 p.m. Donations of cash or dog and cat supplies welcome. For more information, email adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org


Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.