Easter Bunnies Can Make Cute Gifts, But CT Animal Experts Say to Think Twice


Easter is a holy holiday in the Christian religion, but some secular images have come to mark the day: pastel-colored eggs and bunnies in baskets.

Some might wonder how rabbits became the image of the Christian holiday. Although little is known about the origin of the Easter Bunny, the image of Easter bunnies was brought to the United States by immigrants from Germany, according to History.com. Around the 1700s, German immigrants shared their story of a hare laying eggs and the tradition of children coloring the eggs, according to an article by Time magazine.

Now that the Easter Bunny has become so ingrained in our celebration, parents might think of gifting their children a bunny for Easter. But local shelters say pets can be problematic holiday gifts.

Most people know the commitment that comes with adopting dogs and cats, but the degree of responsibility that comes with it. have a rabbit as a pet is not as widely known, said Linda Thibault, director of Hopalong Hollow Rabbit Rescue in Norwalk.

“Rabbits aren’t an easy pet. It’s not an impulse buy, it’s a lifelong commitment,” said Thibault, who opened Hopalong Hollow in 2004.

A 2021 Shelter Animals Count report showed that rabbit adoptions are pretty consistent every month of the year, according to the MSPCA.

However, local shelters such as the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter in Branford are seeing a spike in interest during the holidays, according to the shelter’s Laura Selvaggio Burban.

“Every year after Easter and Christmas we get an influx of rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and ferrets,” Selvaggio Burban said. “But most people don’t want a five-, seven-, or 15-year commitment as a gift.”

When people receive rabbits as gifts, they have a higher risk of returning or abandoning them, Selvaggio Burban said. Domestic rabbits are the third most abandoned pet in the United States and aat least 80% of rabbits bought around Easter are abandoned or die within the year, according to National Geographic.

Domestic rabbits abandoned in the wild can also affect wild rabbits, according to Howard Kilpatrick of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The New England rabbit and the Eastern rabbit are the two species of wild rabbits that can be found in Connecticut. The former is the only one native to Connecticut while the latter was introduced to the nutmeg state in the late 1800s, according to DEEP.

“If you release domestic rabbits, there’s always a risk that they carry diseases or parasites that may not affect them, but they can affect wild rabbits,” Kilpatrick said.

According to Thibault, an additional misunderstanding concerns the lifespan of rabbits. Most rabbits live 8 to 12 years, but some live up to 14 years, depending on the Humane Society of the United States.

Although rabbits are very cute, they can also be quite destructive, especially when it comes to electrical cords, so people need to “rabbit-proof their homes,” Thibault said. For many years, rabbits were considered a starter pet, but that’s a misconception because they need as much care as dogs and cats, Thibault added.

Frosty, a one-year-old mini rex rabbit, is available for adoption at the Connecticut Humane Society’s Newington location.

Contributed by Joyce B. Comer

To discourage impulse buying of rabbits, PETCO stopped selling them in 2008. This decision was applauded by the Domestic Rabbit Societywho said that this decision would have an impact on the surplus of homeless rabbits in the country.

Among the care that rabbits need is a large amount of hay, a spacious park and a litter box. While this may all be inexpensive, the expense adds up to veterinary care. A trip to the vet can easily cost a thousand dollars, Thibault said.

According to Susan Wollschlager of the Connecticut Humane Society.

“You don’t have as many veterinary practices in Connecticut that see rabbits, so you want to make sure there’s one near you so you can keep up with your rabbit’s regular care when you adopt them” , said Wollschlager.

When people are interested in adopting, the Connecticut Humane Society makes sure the family knows the amount of commitment they’re undertaking, according to Wollschlager.

Dan Cosgrove’s Selvaggio recommends people also volunteer at an animal shelter.

“Volunteer for six months and see how you feel about cleaning rabbit cages and socializing with them. And if you think it’s still right for you, adopt one you already know,” Selvaggio Burban said. .

Once people are aware of the commitment and care that rabbits need, they make great pets, Wollschlager said.

“They have personalities like any other animal and some want attention all the time and will sit on your lap and cuddle up to you and some want to jump all over the place,” said Wollschlager, who has herself a rabbit. “They can be really funny and make you laugh, so I think they’re a really fun pet.”


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