New Orleans pets column for March 14, 2013

When we think of Easter, we think of bunnies. And while the idea of a cute little fur ball hopping around on Easter morning sounds like a Kodak moment, the reality is that the bunny is likely to be old news before the photos are even developed.

Rabbits take just as much time, attention and care as dogs and cats do. They are also not really suitable as pets for small children, as they generally do not like being held and are delicate little creatures.

Rabbits are social animals and do not like being left alone. They have a life span of 10-12 years. They require vet care, spay/neuter and vaccinations.

Once Easter has come and gone and the newness of a bunny wears off, these animals often find themselves set free in the wild, where domesticated rabbits have zero chance of survival, or in already overcrowded animal shelters.

If you are thinking about a bunny this Easter, please consider these facts:

 Rabbits are not animals that you put in a cage in the corner of your child’s room and just feed and water them. They need love, attention and room to play.

 Rabbits are not always cuddly and do not always like to be carried around.

 They can become frightened when encountering prey animals, such as the family dog or cat.

 Rabbits must live indoors to be safe from the elements, diseases and predators.

 Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require as much work as a cat or dog.

 They have high social needs and often do best in pairs.

 Bunnies are not good pets for very young children.

 Rabbits need routine vet care, have a special diet and require specific housing.

 They cannot be set “free” into the wild — it’s a death sentence.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, each year thousands of Easter “pet” bunnies are abandoned at U.S. shelters — or worse, abandoned in the wild to die — after their novelty wears off.

If your family is considering a bunny, it’s best to wait until after the hubbub of Easter is over. Then, do the research on rabbit care and decide if you are ready to make the commitment.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Contact ARNO at, or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.