THE Blue Cross pet charity is urging the public not to give real bunnies as Easter gifts next week, as it reveals the shocking increase in rabbits being abandoned at this time of year.
Last year, three times more unwanted rabbits were handed in to The Blue Cross just after Easter than in the first few months of the year. The charity is concerned that people are buying bunnies as presents for children without considering the time and money involved in caring for them long-term.
Rabbits can live for up to eight years and ongoing costs such as food and vet fees can run to £100 or more per year. And even basic, good accommodation for a rabbit can cost hundreds of pounds.
Blue Cross animal adoption centres nationwide are already filling up with pets whose owners have been forced to give them up in these difficult financial times. The charity is keen to prevent unwanted rabbits adding to these numbers.
Claire Stallard, Blue Cross animal behaviourist, said: “Rabbits are amongst the most popular choice for a pet in Britain, particularly for young families. They can make wonderful companions as they have so much to offer, but like any pet they are a big commitment and are not a ‘cheap option’. It may be tempting to get a cute bunny for Easter but you must be willing to care for them their whole life, even if your child loses interest.”
Before getting a rabbit of your own, The Blue Cross advises that you consider the following key advice:
* Rabbits need the company of other rabbits, not any other species, as they can get very lonely and distressed on their own. A neutered male and neutered female rabbit are the best combination.
* Rabbits need space to run around and stretch their back legs so they need a hutch where they can stand upright and access to a large run. Living in a confined space can cause physical discomfort and even spinal damage.
* Rabbits are highly inquisitive and need lots of mental stimulation. Find out about special rabbit toys, or you can make your own from cardboard boxes.
* Some rabbits can be very frightened of being picked up and may bite or kick.
* Happy bunnies need to nibble on hay throughout the day and should have just a small amount of rabbit food mix.