Tag Archives: Rabbit Activism

Beware of Easter Bunnies

Well, it’s that time of year again – Easter Time – when large numbers of people seem to loose their minds and decide that putting sole responsibility for a living, breathing animal into the hands of a 5 year old child is a good thing. (Here’s a hint people: it’s not.)

As an Easter Bunny myself – one that was abandoned just a few weeks after Easter – I sort of have a responsibility to educate people about why Easter ≠ Bunny. It’s the least I can do to make sure that there are fewer bunnies out there that have to go through what I went through – being abandoned in the streets of a city while still a tiny baby. So, yeah, think about that first before you go out and pick up a “cute little baby bunny” from the pet store for your kids this Easter.

gus looking up at the tube

Above: I was abandoned when I was this little.

So let’s get down to business, shall we? The biggest mistake people make around Easter time is forgetting this golden rule:

A bunny is a rabbit, and a rabbit is a BIG responsibility.

You’d be amazed how many people forget this. Baby bunnies, like all other animals, grow up  and get bigger. It’s a fact of life. And unless you think life itself is disposable, you have to take responsibility not just for the small, cute, baby bunny you brought home, but also the big, older rabbit you’ll end up with in a few months. If you’re not willing to do this, then don’t get a rabbit. (Maybe you should get a chocolate bunny instead?)

There are a few other things you should know before you even think about picking up a rabbit:

  1. We need more space than the cages you can buy at the pet store. Almost 100% of the cages you find at your local pet store are meant as “starter” cages for 1 bunny when it’s little. That same cage won’t do once the rabbit grows up – we need more space. If you don’t have enough space, then maybe you should think twice about getting a rabbit.
  2. A rabbit cannot live on pellets and carrots alone. Yeah, I know, carrots are what rabbits eat in cartoons all the time, and pellets are easy to feed, but let’s be serious – you don’t see wild rabbits munching on carrots and going “what’s up, doc,” do you? Also, pellets are basically rabbit prison food – it’s what was fed to rabbits when they were being kept as food, not as pets. We need good food, just like any other pet. An unlimited supply of timothy hay (not alfalfa, at least not once we’re grown up), as much as we can eat, is a good start, as are fresh veggies like parsley, romaine lettuce (or any lettuce with dark green leaves), and many other dark green veggies. Carrots, on the other hand, have too many calories and should not form the bulk of our diet.
  3. We need things to chew on. In the same way that people give their cats a scratching post, a rabbit needs something similar – but for chewing, not scratching. Our teeth grow constantly; if we don’t chew on things they will grow so big that we can’t open our mouth to eat anymore. Oh, and if you don’t give us things to chew on, we’ll probably end up chewing on anything we can get our teeth on – like your carpet, baseboards, furniture, etc. So give us cardboard boxes or bits of (untreated) wood to chew on. Heck, your used paper towel or toilet paper rolls will do the trick in a pinch – and we’ll recycle them for you. Bonus!
  4. We are not the same as hamsters or gerbils or other “cage” animals. People often lump us in the same category as hamsters or gerbils or even guinea pigs – animals that are typically kept in cages full-time. But this is a mistake. Just look at us – we’re a heck of a lot bigger than a hamster or gerbil! So don’t base your housing/feeding/care expectations off of what you might have in mind for a smaller animal – we’re different, and that means you need to take care of us differently. Instead, you might want to think of a rabbit as more or less a vegetarian cat. You wouldn’t keep a cat in a 3 foot x 2 foot cage all day, now would you? No, you’d let it roam around your house. Well, if you are going to get a rabbit, you should expect to let the rabbit roam your house (or at least be out free roaming for a period each day) in the same way.
  5. We are prey animals, so be gentle with us. While the “like a vegetarian cat” analogy works pretty well, it’s also important to keep in mind that we are prey animals – unlike a cat, which is a predator. This has huge ramifications on how we see the world. A cat may get scared of things, but it’s generally not constantly on the lookout for things that might be trying to eat it – quite the contrary! But a rabbit is always on the lookout for things that might be trying to eat it – because, like it or not, something almost always is trying to eat us. Because of this, we can be a bit skittish – so keep this in mind when you loom over us! Also, since we do startle rather easily, you should probably keep smaller children away from us if possible – or at least supervise them very closely. A small child making lots of noise or sudden movements can be downright terrifying to a rabbit!
  6. We need exercise, too. If you keep us in a cage, let us out from time to time (ideally, at least once every day) so we can stretch our (huge) legs. People have no problem walking their pet dogs, but for some reason they don’t think to let their pet rabbits out. Don’t fall into this trap – let us run around once in a while!

Those are just some of the things I could think of off the top of my ears.

Now, if after all of that, you still think you want to get a rabbit, well, let me give you a few more pieces of advice: try adopting a rabbit instead of buying one from a pet store. You might not get a “small & cute” baby bunny, but the bunny you do get will probably already be litter trained and may even already bee spayed/neutered, saving you a BIG expense down the road. Plus, you’re probably saving a bunnies life when you adopt from a shelter. And I think that’s a good enough reason by itself, don’t you?

And finally, here’s some pictures of what you can expect to see if you let a rabbit into your life:

gus close up face

betsy at attention

gus is sulking - or tired

gus napping

i see you

typical gus

gus says - you suck

betsy girl

betsy's sourpuss face

And, of course:

betsy plotting our doom - with text

So, please, think twice about buying a bunny for Easter. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

-Gus

p.s. for more on why you shouldn’t get a bunny for Easter, please see Make Mine Chocolate (makeminechocolate.org).

No More Easter Stories

Every Easter I try (with dad’s help) to let as many people as I can know about the sad stories of “Easter bunnies.” I’m entitled to speak on this because I was an Easter bunny myself.

Long story short, I was bought for some kids for Easter, and they didn’t really know how to take care of me, so they were very rough to me and eventually left me outside when they got bored with me. I don’t think they wanted me anymore.

Luckily, my mom saw them and came and picked me up and took me inside and made arrangements for me to stay with her & dad from now on. And I am very much grateful for what she did.

But the fact is, there are lots of other bunnies out there right now who are being given as “gifts” for Easter, to people who don’t know how to care for them, or to people who won’t care for them once the novelty wears off (though how that could happen with a rabbit still baffles me).

So, as I always do on Easter, I just want to remind everyone that a rabbit is not a toy, not a gift, but a real live animal, the same as any other pet – if not more so, because we’re not like cats and dogs who are predators and can take care of themselves to a certain extent – we’re rabbits, a prey species, and we can be fragile at times, so we depend on our human mums & dads to look after us. We also live quite a long time (depending on the breed and whether we’ve been de-sexed) – figure about 10 years, give or take. We don’t do well in small cages (despite lots of pictures and pet store advertising to the contrary) and we don’t just eat carrots (cartoons aside – although carrots are a nice side dish).

Hopefully this message reaches someone and makes a difference somewhere. Now if you all don’t mind, I’m going to take the rest of the day off and go lie in a sunbeam and reflect on how lucky Betsy and I are to have such a nice home. And to all the buns out there – may you all find homes as nice yourselves.

Good luck, and hoppy Easter!

-Gus

Gus’s Newer Portrait

Bunny Game – No, Really

Dad told me this morning that he found out that there is a game now where you take care of a rabbit – and that is the game! He said it’s called “Petz Bunnyz,” for something he called “Nintendo DS.” Oh, I see, it’s sort of a game thing that you can hold in your hands (boy, must be nice to have opposable thumbs…)

I’m not sure how I feel about this. At first, I thought it was good – people can play with bunnies in a game instead of buying them from pet stores and leaving them alone all day to be sad. But, then I thought about it some more, and what if playing this game, they want to get a real rabbit? It might encourage more people to get rabbits who maybe shouldn’t.

Still, I suppose it depends on how realistic the game is. Dad said it doesn’t look nearly as good as a real rabbit, and after all, rabbits are complex animals, I’m sure no game could ever capture our true “spirit.” So maybe this will convince people not to get rabbits if they are not ready for the commitment. That would be best, I think.

-Gus

Gus’s Newer Portrait

February is “Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month”

I heard today that February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month.

Being that I am a rescued rabbit (and so is Betsy, sort of),  I can’t help but try to spread the word about things like this.

When dad set up this site for me and Betsy, I had hoped that at least one person who visited would learn that we rabbits are not so difficult to take care of, and that we are just as entertaining and full of energy and personalities as those other “cherished” household pets – I’m talking about cats and dogs, of course.

My hope was that maybe, just maybe, someone would save a bunny because of what they learned here.

I guess I always get sentimental when talking about rescuing my fellow lagomorphs.

-Gus

Gus’s New Portrait

Pet Store Bunnies

My mom told me that she saw a bunny in a pet store today.

Hearing about those kinds of bunnies always makes Betsy and I very sad. I’ve seen (first hand) how rabbits are kept in pet stores. And Betsy can tell you about how terrible it is to live in a cage your whole life, never able to stretch your legs and do a binky or run as fast as you can, just for fun.

Fortunately my mom knows how Betsy and I feel about these sorts of things, and she lodged a complaint at the store. Unfortunately, it seems like only the store owner can do anything about it – the employees are helpless.

I know I’m just one rabbit, but if you or anyone you know ever thinks of getting a bunny – please get one from a shelter instead of a pet store. The same goes for just about any type of pet – a store is no place for any animal to live.

-Gus

Gus’s Portrait

I Am An Easter Bunny

Well, another Easter has come and gone (mostly). It’s been an uneventful day for me – I spent most of the day under the bed with Besty. It’s so nice and warm under here – it’s the best place to spend the middle of the day.

I said I was going to tell the story of how I came to live here, and I figured this would be the right time for it, since it was around this time of year that it all happened (about 2 years ago now).

I was an Easter bunny – a gift for some kids at Easter time. About a week after Easter, these kids were giving me a very hard time. They were playing in a parking lot beside my current home, throwing me up in the air and spinning me around in circles by holding onto my legs. I was absolutely terrified.

My mom saw what the kids were doing to me from her porch. Then the kids were called back to their house, or they got bored – I don’t really remember. They left me there, in the parking lot, on the hard ground. I was dizzy and confused, so I hopped away, trying to find a place to hide. I heard my mom come down, but she didn’t see me. A little while later, I hopped back out in the open, wondering if I was going to be left outside forever. That’s when my mom came down again and picked me up.

She raced back upstairs with me, and put me in the bathroom to start with – it was the only “bunny-proof” room in the house at the time. I heard her on the phone, calling people, asking what she should do. She said the kids had mistreated me, and wanted to make sure I had a good home. Her voice was very nice, and she had an accent that I’d never heard before. I wasn’t too scared now – the bathroom floor was slippery, but it was a safe place, I could tell. Nobody would get me in there, and that felt good, because I was still a bit shaken up by all this. And also, the bathroom, small as it was, was much lager than the cage I had been kept in.

My mom didn’t know what to do, and she had to go to work the next day. She left me a carrot and a little bit of greens – all that she had in the house, as I later learned. I spent my first day alone in the bathroom, but it wasn’t too bad. The cool tile was nice on my sore feet.

That night, my mom came home and was very happy to see me. She built me a little house out of stuff she had lying around, and she had bought some hay, pellets, and lettuce on the way home. I enjoyed my first “real” dinner. I didn’t mind her at all, and I liked the smell and look of the house.

I spent a few days in that makeshift cage, until my dad got home. He had been away on vacation with some friends for a few days, and he was surprised to find me in his house! I didn’t mind him at all, either – his voice was very friendly. He told me about the guinea pigs he used to live with, and the next day he and my mom came home with a spare guinea pig cage, which they put me in, along with some nice soft bedding. I was still very small, so it wasn’t too cramped. I was enjoying the food they were giving me (fresh greens), and it was nice to not be picked up all the time.

The nicest bit, though, was that they let me out of my cage all the time – so I got to roam around the house and explore things. They reassured me that I would be happy here, and they gave me all kinds of attention. It was very nice. Later on, they got a bigger cage for me, and only put me in it late at night and during the day – when I would normally sleep, anyway. They let me out in the morning and in the evening to romp around with them. (I quickly learned that the couch was quite cool as well, and fun to jump on!)

Eventually they gave up on the cage and just gave me a litter box, so I spent my time lounging on the floor with them. Needless to say, I was very happy to be living with them. They were very good to me. I can remember the first summer we were together, it began to get very warm, and my mom and dad rushed out on the very first “hot” day and bought 2 new air conditioners so that I wouldn’t overheat. They didn’t really need them for themselves, as they had an old one for the bedroom, but they knew that I would get too hot in the living room during the day, and if the bedroom door was to be left open for me, they would need to cool both rooms. I later came to understand that what they did cost them a lot of “money,” which I guess is a big deal for humans.

Later on, they brought Betsy to our house, and after we got introduced, they had the both of us “fixed.” I guess that time I peed on my dad’s head while he was in bed didn’t go over to well with them! (In my defense, he was rather late in getting up to feed me.)

Since then, I’ve never had to worry about anything. My mom and dad keep me well fed, and I have the whole house to explore – although I hardly ever go beyond the bedroom and the living room. (The kitchen smells funny, and I prefer carpeted floors over the tile of the bathroom.)

I am writing this story down and sharing it with you because I know that somewhere out there today, another rabbit – actually, probably many rabbits – are going through something similar to what I went through. If you’re reading this, I hope you will be more like my mom and dad, and take care of a rabbit like they did, instead of being like those kids who were rough to me. Easter is a tough time for us rabbits – no matter what the commercials on your TV thing say. Maybe if you share this story with someone, and they share it with someone else, enough people will know this story that next Easter, fewer rabbits will go through something like this.

Happy Easter, everyone.

-Gus

Gus’s Portrait

The Sad Truth about Rabbit Overpopulation

I ran across this short little article today:

The Sad Truth About Rabbit Overpopulation

by Amy Shapiro

The House Rabbit Society exists because rabbits are being dumped at shelters every day of the year. Right now, as you read this, healthy rabbits are being killed at animal shelters simply because there are more wonderful rabbits than there are rabbit-people.

What can we do to stop the killing? Adopt from a shelter.

Do not allow your rabbit to have even one litter. Even if you find good homes for those babies, those are good homes that the shelter rabbits won’t get. And what if each of those babies is allowed to have one litter? Will you take responsibility for each of them finding a good home? I can guarantee thatwithin one or two generations a rabbit from that “just one litter” will end up dead at a shelter.

Talk to others about this problem. Many people are unaware of how many rabbits are being surrendered and euthanized at shelters-and compared to the ones who are dumped in fields, those at shelters are the lucky ones. Lucky to have a lethal overdose of sodium pentothal injected by a caring person!

What have we come to when that’s the best we can offer these guys? To purchase from a breeder or pet store is to write a death warrant for a shelter rabbit.

It’s as simple as that.

It made me very sad. My parents adopted me (I’ll tell you about it some other time) and Betsy, but I wonder how many of my litter-mates ended up in a shelter – or worse, let go into the wild. It gets very cold here in New England – I know. I can feel it through the drafty window in the livingroom. Betsy has told me all about what it’s like outside – the rain, the foxes, the snow… I would feel very, very sorry for any rabbit left out in that weather, especially if they had previously been living in a nice warm house. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m domesticated. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to live on my own, without my well-trained parents here to bring me dinner. And the thought of ending up in a shelter… oh it just makes my fur stand on end!

So please, make sure you don’t encourage people to buy rabbits – or any pet, really – from a pet store or a breeder. Adopt instead – it is the responsible, mature thing to do. (My dad says “and spay and neuter your rabbits as well!”)

Okay everyone? Please? I’m going to go spend a moment of silence snuggled up with Betsy now, for all the rabbits left alone tonight. *sniff*

-Gus

Gus’s Portrait