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Chocolate for Easter, not Rabbits!  By Heather , Bluffparkal.org  heather@bluffparkal.org  


When I was growing up, Easter was always a fun holiday.  My mom would get new Easter outfits for me and my brother, and I even remember a few of my dresses and hats.  Easter morning we would check out what the "Easter Bunny" had brought for our baskets.  My favorites were the chocolate rabbits and Reese's peanut butter eggs.  And Dad even had a basket filled with marshmallow PEEPS.  As we left the house, we would always take a family photo by blooming plants or the front door first, then it was off to church to celebrate that Christ lives!  Even today my mom still says that the "Easter Bunny" visits and fills our baskets.  Every Easter my husband, brother and sister-in-law gathers at my parent’s house for Easter lunch.  We still take a family photo, even our pets have a place in the photo, and I can always count on a chocolate rabbit from the "EB"!

I did not realize how important chocolate rabbits were till I became a "momma" to the best rabbits in the world, Snuffey and Jackrabbit.  Both I "acquired" but not at the same time.  Snuffey was an older rabbit that no one wanted; Snuffey1one of my High School teachers found him and brought him in for a classroom pet for her students to learn from.  Snuff had some health problems; his teeth grew out of his mouth so he could not eat like a normal rabbit.  I had to take him to the vet to have his teen filed and clipped down so he could eat.  I ended up keeping him over the summer which led to keeping him for life because the classroom was not a comfortable place for him to live.  My teacher was going to take him home, but she knew how much I loved him and was so gracious to let him come live with me.  He was my buddy.  Snuff gave me something to look forward to when going to school. I would hurry to class so I could be the one to give him his food and let him out to run.  He lived with me all through High School.  When I was a Senior, he developed a respiratory disease called “snuffles” and endured several surgeries.  He passed away with me in his house with me and my parents by his side.

My second rabbit, which came to live with me in college, was Jackrabbit.  She was my baby and a rescued rabbit that I’ll take more about in a moment.  So how do chocolate rabbits for Easter fit into all this?  Quite simply, chocolate rabbits save real rabbits  ... sounds funny........ but its not, and here is why.

Every year, after the Easter baskets are put away and the candy is eaten, REAL bunnies given for Easter end up in shelters or humane societies because parents don’t know the ends and outs of rabbit adoption.  Children become tired of bunnies because they are not the cuddly, huggable pets that they are made out to be.  Uneducated owners fall into misconceptions about their children’s rabbits and their care.  Rabbits and small children are just not a good match.  Even the most well behaved child is too much stress for a sensitive animal like a rabbit.  Rabbits have weak hearts and can get stressed easily from being held.  Young kids love to hold and carry pets like stuffed animals.  The problem with that is, rabbits are not passive and cuddly animals.  Rabbits do not particularly like to be held or restrained; they like to stay on the ground or jump in your lap.  Most young kids like a pet they can hold, carry, and cuddle.  All too often kids lose interest in their Easter bunny, and the parents either have to find a new home for it or the rabbits end up neglected or abandoned.  So make your Easter Bunny chocolate this year!  This is the message that the House Rabbits Society conveys when Easter hops around.
Alabama Ears is the local chapter of the House Rabbits Society and one of my favorite rescue groups.  Their "Make Mine Chocolate"  campaign aims at saving future Easter  bunnies and educating  the public on proper rabbit care .  http://www.alabamaears.org/makeminechocolate.html or http://www.makeminechocolate.org/

JackrabbitI came to know Alabama Ears after Jackrabbit was featured on a local morning show along with Alabama Ears as part of a segment talking about "No Rabbits For Easter."  I thought the campaign was great and a much needed voice in the world of pets and pet responsibility.  Jackrabbit was an abandoned case.  I don’t know if she was a product of an Easter gift gone wrong, but she did need a home.

A rabbit is not a low maintenance pet by any stretch of the imagination.  They can live 10 to 12 years if in a good home.  Rabbits  have intricate personalities and stubborn streaks at times.  My baby , Jackrabbit, was a diva-rabbit!  She liked her food bowl where SHE put it and her hay bin where SHE put it and.. well you get the picture.  When I got married, SHE had to approve of the groom!  Ha, Ha.  Jackrabbit became our baby and my husband loved her as his child.  When we would come home from work, she would jump up ready to get out of her house and start running.  She had a routine of running under the bed and out, then make a quick turn thump the floor and then jump on our bed... excuse me…HER bed.

A funny thing happened one vacation when my parents were keeping Jackrabbit while we went to the beach.  My dad let Jack out in the bathroom and she ran and kicked the toilet and then ran back in her house.... I don’t know what that was about!  She disapproved of the toilet I guess.

One aspect potential owners don’t think about is the process of rabbit-proofing the area in which the rabbit is going to live, and a cage 24-7 is not healthy.  Electrical cords to lamps and TVs are lunch for rabbits…you could be out a lamp and a rabbit if the shock is enough.

more rabbit care info

Another misconception is that rabbits do not require veterinary care.  Rabbits need routine care check-ups, nails clipped, ears cleaned and other  exams.  When Jackrabbit was 5, she had to have a lymphoma removed from her stomach. 

She had another one 2 years later.

Last year 2 weeks after her annual "well-bunny" exam she developed a large knot on her side.  We did not know what it was and were shocked at how sudden it came up.  Our vet took a sample of it and sent it to the Auburn
University Veterinary School.  It took a week to get the test back, but my vet already knew what it was.… cancer.  The vet just could not tell what kind. Jackrabbit

Small animals and cancer is not the same as humans and cancer.  Smaller animals, when they are older and sick, tend to go down fast and it is difficult to stabilize them.  Jackrabbit’s health declined in just a few days after going to the vet and sending off the sample.  That  night she started to slow down and had very labored breathing.  I cried all night with her, and we called every emergency vet in the city and even
Auburn's emergency care line.  All we could do was make her comfortable.  Jackrabbit was 10 years old  when she passed away.

My rabbits were a joy to have as family and a joy to care and learn about.  Rabbits are good pets to have if you are ready and committed. 

If your kids or you yourself are thinking about a rabbit as a family pet, don’t make an impulse buy for Easter.  As an alternative, give a chocolate rabbit with a book on how to care for rabbits.  Talk with your family and see if a rabbit is right for you, it is a life long commitment.

All Photographs ©2008 BluffParkAl.org and Heather - All Rights Reserved





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