Taking care of bunny rabbits is like having a dog: 'It's a big responsibility'

FOX 32 NEWS - They’re cute, they're incredibly soft, and they look so well-behaved. So why not celebrate Easter by getting the kids a bunny rabbit?

You might want to think twice before making an impulse buy.

Avalanche is one of about 30 rabbits whose home these days is the Red Door Animal Shelter on Chicago's North Side. Starting next week, Avalanche - a Flemish Giant - is likely to have some new friends, as rabbits that were acquired as cute little Easter Bunnies find themselves in need of a home, because they're no longer wanted.

“Rabbits are a ten year commitment, they're definitely, they're not toys, and you know it's a big responsibility,” said Mike Malito of Red Door Animal Shelter.

Malito, the shelter's manager, says those little bunnies eventually turn into full-grown rabbits, which don't make the best pets. If they're not held properly, they can suffer broken bones. They have sensitive stomachs, and they're not good with kids.

“Most rabbits do not like being held and they're not going to be the snuggly animal that everyone assumes they're going to be. And they definitely bite, if they feel threatened. And they just prefer to be left alone,” said Becky Weber of Red Door Animal Shelter.

Lots of families assume that adopting a little rabbit like is like having gerbils or hamsters at home, but it's more like having the responsibility of raising a cat or a dog.

“People are going to get frustrated with that and they are going to lose interest quickly and people are going to start throwing them outside and then that's when we come in,” Weber said.

Domesticated rabbits that have been abandoned outdoors are often killed by predators, or have trouble finding food. They also don't do well in the heat. If they're rescued by the shelter, they'll be nursed back to health, fixed, and then adopted out to families that have been educated in raising rabbits and know what to expect.

If you need some help caring for a rabbit, the shelter does offer a booklet titled, "Respect the Rabbit."

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