Please Don't Gift a Real Bunny for Easter: 4 Out of 5 Gift Rabbits Die Within a Year

rabbit amongst coloured eggs in basket, studio shot
Seriously, Don't Gift A Bunny This EasterRoger Wright - Getty Images
  • With Easter around the corner, many folks have bunnies on the brain.

  • Some may be considering adopting live rabbits as pets, as a quirky Easter basket stuffer.

  • But experts seriously implore people to reconsider their decision, which can be harmful to the rabbits themselves.

With Easter just around the corner, you're probably looking for a gift for kids or other loved ones. Now, we recommend chocolates, or other fun treats. Maybe even get creative with your baskets, pick up some plushes, and find some fun gifts for the adults in your life, too.

The one thing we are genuinely insisting you not buy as a gift this Easter are live rabbits. And we're not alone in this.

Now, you can either take us at our word right here and just not do it, or read on as we get into the sad reasons why the "gift" of a rabbit this Easter is anything but an act of kindness, for the giftee or the bunny. And there's no vernal whimsy in this story.

pink easter banner made of two soft bunnies with easter decorative eggs and a copy space
Olga Shumytskaya - Getty Images

Some of the many voices imploring people to not treat these tiny creatures like decor this season are Linda Jones and Ron Steger. As founders of the Erie Area Rabbit Society & Rescue, or E.A.R.S, they spoke to the Erie Times-News about the impending wave of attempted rabbit adoptions, and why most putting in their applications should reconsiders.

"We're getting applications from grandparents or parents who want to put a bunny in the kids' Easter basket," Jones told the Times-News. "Don't do it."

"They're not starter pets or pocket pets. They need a lot of care and attention," Steger added. The consequence of one of these careless stunt-adoptions? "Four out of five rabbits given as Easter gifts die within a year, mostly from neglect," the Erie Times-News notes.

These are serious concerns being raised by experts. And before you go thinking "Eh, I'll figure it out," please seriously consider the many complicated aspects of rabbit ownership that factor into the high mortality rate for this animal when adopted as a lark.

For one, as the Times-News notes, "Domesticated rabbits are prone to respiratory tract infections, parasites and dental and digestive issues, among other ailments." Their status as exotic pets means it can be more difficult to find vets who can treat them, and even when found, the treatments themselves can be costly.

Then there's a matter of their diet. "I can get carrots," you might think, but in actuality, carrots aren't a rabbit's preferred food. In fact, they can cause digestive issues for the creature. "But Bugs Bunny..." was depicted eating carrots as a parody of a scene where Clark Gable chomps on a carrot in the 1934 rom-com It Happened One Night. That's why he's always eating carrots that way. It's the equivalent of, if in 80 years, people decided dogs love martinis because they grew up watching Brian on Family Guy.

Rabbits need things to chew, like unsprayed apple branches. But those aren't easy to come by. "The branches you can buy in pet stores aren't fresh. They come from China or Vietnam," Steger said. "You have to get it locally and it has to be pesticide free."

<span class="caption">This gag from 1934’s <em>It Happened One Night</em> is the likely reference for Bugs Bunny’s constant carrot chewing, not any dietary fact</span><span class="photo-credit">Donaldson Collection - Getty Images</span>
This gag from 1934’s It Happened One Night is the likely reference for Bugs Bunny’s constant carrot chewing, not any dietary factDonaldson Collection - Getty Images

Lastly, rabbits need space, more than most homes can provide. And that can sometimes lead regretful owners to make a terrible decision: releasing them into the wild.

Just because you've seen other rabbits out in a field doesn't mean the one you adopted will thrive, or even survive. "Domestic rabbits generally die when they're released outdoors," the Times-News notes. "...where predators and parasites make survival iffy even for their wild cousins."

Besides, there's really no reason to make a live rabbit part of your Easter celebration. There's no mention of Easter rabbits in any of the religious texts associated with the day, neither canonical or apocryphal (unless it's buried, like, deep in those Vatican archives). The origins of the rabbit, and eggs, as part of a spring tradition of any kind are likely pagan in origin, retrofitted to the holiday.

And the "Easter Bunny" as we celebrate it stateside here today only dates back to the 1700s or so, as a confluence of German immigrants' tradition mixing with Pennsylvania settler culture, which means "Easter bunnies" may only be a part of the Easter holiday for roughly 15 percent of its existence as a holiday. Heck, the last season of Game of Thrones is practically 15 percent of the show's existence, and we're perfectly fine forgetting about whatever was going on there.

Plus, there's plenty of stuff we were doing back in the 1700s that we've since realized were real bad ideas, so, you know: Leave the rabbits alone this year. Stick to the baskets and chocolate.

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