Mar 242005
Authors: Cari Merrill

Chocolate and bunnies are two items associated with the Easter holiday, but unlike bunnies, chocolate will not be sticking around for 10 years.

Parents commonly purchase bunnies for their children around Easter.

"We are on 'bunny backup'," said Jenna Johnson, employee in the equine and pet department at Jax's Farm and Ranch, 1000 Highway 287.

There is always a demand for bunnies, but Jax's does see an increase as time closes in on Easter, Johnson said.

Matthew Johnston, assistant professor of exotic animal medicine at CSU's veterinary teaching hospital said purchasing a rabbit or bunny for Easter on a spur-of-the-moment decision isn't a good idea.

"We don't recommend rabbits as Easter pets. They're bought on impulse," Johnston said. "It's generally a bad idea to buy impulsively."

While the idea of a cuddly, fuzzy bunny might seem to fit with the picture-perfect Easter, many people who purchase bunnies or rabbits do not think about the long term commitment.

A lot of times, parents want to get their children a first pet they think is easy to care for.

"Parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids," said Cary Rentola from the Humane Society for Larimer County, 6317 Kyle Ave.

But with an average life span of nine to 12 years, rabbits are anything but a quick project.

People sometimes underestimate the amount of time involved and what it takes to care for rabbits, Johnston said. Often times, owners are too busy to provide the proper care and the rabbits may end up at the humane society.

Moving is another reason the Humane Society for Larimer County sees rabbits come into the shelter, Rentola said. New residences may not always accept pets. Additions to the family can also guide the decision to give rabbits up for adoption. Whether it is another pet or children are born, the rabbit is the easiest thing to give up.

Rabbits are moderately difficult animals to take care of. Johnston said in the pet rabbits he sees, nutrition is the main concern. Many pet rabbits do not get an appropriate diet consisting of high-quality hay and fresh vegetables.

For those serious about wanting a rabbit, the Humane Society for Larimer County has adoptable rabbits. One rabbit can be adopted for $30 or two for $50. The society likes to see rabbits that are already paired be adopted out together, Rentola said.

"We don't want to separate that bond," she said.

Potential owners are put through an adoption counseling process. They meet with a Humane Society counselor and are asked lifestyle questions to see if the pet they are considering would be the best match for them, Rentola said.

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