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RECYCLED LOVE: With rabbits come responsibility

Owning a pet rabbit can teach children responsibility and unconditional love.
Owning a pet rabbit can teach children responsibility and unconditional love. - 123RF Stock Photo

Many reasons make a bunny the perfect pet for children, but please make an informed decision. If you are considering the gift of a rabbit for your children, you will need to do some research — the same kind of research you would do before bringing any pet into your home. Owning a rabbit can be a 10-year commitment.

Rabbits can be relatively docile, friendly and easygoing. They are quiet and they like to keep themselves very clean. They live longer than other smaller pets that children tend to favour, like hamsters or gerbils. They are also considered lower maintenance than a puppy.

Rabbits may bite household items, such as computer cords, wires, phone chargers and any other small things that will fit in their mouths. They do not chew because they are bored; they chew because their teeth never stop growing and they need to keep wearing them down.

It’s best to have a dedicated area in your home for the rabbit to live in. That area may also include a large crate or cage. Some rabbit owners allow their pet to roam free in their home, but they put them in their separate space to sleep at night. The space you dedicate for your rabbit should have plenty of room for hay, water and fresh food.

Please know their fresh food can become expensive, but it is a necessity for their health.

Your rabbit will need to be spayed or neutered, just like your dog or cat, and their nails need to be kept trimmed.

If you are committed to getting a rabbit, please consider adopting one.

Many adorable rabbits are sitting in rescues and shelters, waiting for loving homes.

Some of these rabbits may have been short-sighted Easter gifts from last year, thus ending up at a shelter.

Having a pet requires a lifetime commitment and it comes with plenty of responsibility. I will always advocate for pet adoptions, but you need to discover if the pet will fit into your family’s lifestyle. I have never owned a rabbit, but I have close friends who do and they are devoted to their soft, long-eared rabbits.

I think children and rabbits make a great team and owning a pet will only enrich your child’s life. It can teach them responsibility and give them unconditional love.

Here’s a gentle Easter reminder for pet owners: please hide your Easter chocolate from your pets. Chocolate is toxic for them and if they happen to ingest some accidentally, call your veterinarian immediately. Lastly, wrappers from little chocolate eggs are a hazard to pets. If swallowed, they can block their digestive system, so please be careful.

Please be kind to animals.

Tracy Jessiman is a pet portrait artist who lives in Halifax with her husband and their three pets. She is a volunteer with Animal Rescue Coalitions of Nova Scotia. She has been rescuing animals most of her life, but more intimately, animals rescued her.

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