Bunnies are a commitment, not just an Easter gift


As the Easter weekend approaches, vets are issuing a reminder that rabbits, while the face of the festivities, are more than just seasonal gifts.

In the weeks after Easter, animal shelters worldwide see an influx of surrendered rabbits, and there is an increase in domestic rabbits abandoned in the wild.  

This is predominantly due to rabbits being gifted with little prior research being done about the care requirements and commitment involved with pet ownership.  

Dee Marchesi, Associate Clinical Director and Clinical Operations Manager at The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University (TAHMU) said significant consideration was required before choosing to gift a pet.  

Essential factors such as – whether the recipient is ready for a pet, do they have the necessary time to train, raise and care for a pet, and whether they economically can afford costs associated with pet healthcare such as vaccinations and sterilisation if required,” Ms Marchesi said.  

Ms Marchesi said the increased number of abandoned and surrendered animals caused additional stress for the animals and put a strain on shelter resources.  

“This creates an animal welfare issue and, for the pets, leads to uncertainty over adoption – not to mention many rescue centres are at capacity,” she said.  

“Conducting thorough research on the type of pet, the recipient’s lifestyle and the level of care and training required would reduce the number of abandoned pets.”  

The Unusual Pet Vets in Murdoch work closely with TAHMU and specialise in treating small critters such as rabbits.  

Vet nurse Jami Burke said many people think rabbits are a “beginner pet” and don’t live long lives, when in reality they live on average from six to ten years.  

She said some of the issues cited after post-Easter rabbit surrender were rabbits becoming hormonal due to not being desexed, aggression due to small housing and young children losing interest. 

However, Ms Burke said for the right family who have done the research, rabbits make the perfect addition.  

“Rabbits can be wonderful pets that are really a part of the family if given the chance,” she said. 

“The ideal living situation for a bunny is to be indoors with the family, much like an indoor cat. You can have an indoor setup for the bunny to return to as it’s safe space as it wishes, with its litter tray, food and water.  

“Usually, a dog playpen type situation is recommended at the minimum, but some owners, if space is permitted, will give them their own bedroom.”  

For a new rabbit, Ms Burke said the following vet work was recommended: 

  • Initial consultation/health check 

  • Vaccination for calicivirus (spread via mosquitos) 

  • Microchipping 

  • Desexing 

Feature image by Pablo Martinez via Unsplash.

Find out more about our School of Veterinary Medicine.
Posted on:

28 Mar 2024



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