Make Mine Chocolate! has been running in the UK since 2008 and exists for the purpose of raising awareness of rabbit welfare needs in the UK, with specific focus around the Easter rabbit impulse purchase issue
Around this time of year it’s impossible to open a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a cute fluffy rabbit. They’re everywhere - on billboards, in magazines, and on packaging up and down the aisles of supermarkets.
It’s no wonder that sales of pet rabbits explode at Easter, and pet shops up and down the country have already ‘stocked up’ with baby bunnies to maximise opportunity; it’s at this time of year that ‘pester power’ comes into its own, with children begging their parents for a lovely fluffy Easter bunny.
But new rabbit owners often realise they have made a mistake in the weeks and months after Easter when the reality of how much time and money is required to care for their new rabbit hits home.
Rabbit welfare group Make Mine Chocolate! is once again campaigning hard to put a stop to the Easter rabbit impulse buy. “By asking people to consider a chocolate or toy rabbit instead of a real rabbit at Easter, potential new owners have time to think about the commitment they need to make before it is too late” reports campaign manager Lisa Whitty.
The current rabbit welfare statistics are worsening year on year, with now an estimated 67,000 rabbits passing through rescue each year (RWAF data). A Make Mine Chocolate! rescue survey revealed that 60% of rabbits entering rescue do so within a year of purchase and it is no surprise to those involved in rescue the main reason being given is the ‘child has lost interest in the pet’.
Make Mine Chocolate! has produced a short list of things to consider before getting a rabbit:
- Accommodation needs to be big and predator proof, with space to exercise and also to stay warm and dry
- Rabbits need annual vaccinations against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
- A rabbit can cost over £1000 a year to look after correctly and that’s if they stay well!
- Rabbits should live in neutered pairs for companionship and other species are not suitable companions
- Rabbits can live for 10 years or more
- Rabbits must eat a diet of mostly hay – a pile at least the same size as the rabbit every day
- Contrary to belief, rabbits don’t like being handled and are not suitable pets for young children
In addition, good rabbit rescues are a great place to learn about caring for rabbits correctly, and can often offer advice on care and holiday boarding.
So beware of the Easter Bunny and think carefully before taking on a rabbit as a pet, and if you are going to buy one, then think about going to your local rescue shelter first.