Rabbits have always been a popular choice as an Easter surprise, but they’ve been increasingly popular lately as gifts for other occasions such as birthdays. Despite their fuzzy appeal, though, there are a lot of drawbacks to giving one as a present. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Potential Benefits of a Gift Bunny
With rabbit ownership up to about 5.3 million bunnies in the United States alone, it’s pretty clear that many people consider them to be a great companion. Bunnies come in a much wider variety of shapes and sizes than most people realize. There are over four dozen different breeds ranging from the tiny Netherland dwarf to the Flemish Giant, which can be over twenty pounds. They come in a range of coat lengths and colors, so there’s probably one out there to suit anyone’s idea of what’s cute.
The physical appeal isn’t all bunnies have to offer, though. When properly socialized, they can be quite companionable and have a lot more personality than many people realize. They’re both affectionate and full of lively intelligence, displaying individual personalities and interesting behavior that often combines the social traits of a dog and the independence of a cat. Their intelligence allows bunnies to respond well to positive reinforcement. They can be taught to use a litter box, so they can be even be permitted free run of the home as long as chewable wires are picked up.
Bunnies are also pretty inexpensive and require fairly little maintenance. In addition to a generously-sized cage, they need food, fresh water, hay, and litter for the box. Basic health care is also needed, particularly when it comes to being sure the animal is spayed or neutered, and the cage or litter box will need to be cleaned regularly. Other than that, most of what they need is fun and social stimulation, which is the whole reason people want a companion animal around in the first place!
With all of these positive attributes, they can be a great idea for a gift as long as the potential owner is totally on-board. Just because it’s a present doesn’t mean it has to be a surprise, so let the recipient make the decision. That way they’ll be able to prepare, and you’ll be able to share the fun of picking out the perfect bunny.
Problems with Giving a Rabbit as a Present
Despite the good things about bunnies, giving a live animal as a gift is always tricky, so don’t buy one on impulse. A new pet comes with an obligation to take care of it. In this case, that obligation can last ten years or more. While the maintenance required is not as intense as, for example, a dog, busy people or travelers may feel encumbered by the need to give food and water, refill hay, and clean the cage, and lack of time for playing will lead to a bored rabbit that could develop behavior problems like excessive chewing.
The expense of health care may also be a concern for some people, particularly in areas where small animal veterinarians are pricier. If the recipient cannot afford to have their new pet spayed or neutered, they could end up with an animal that is territorial and aggressive or one that sprays urine on the walls. The concern around flea bites comes up. Just make sure you have the flea facts when it comes to rabbits.
The biggest potential danger in giving someone a bunny is that the person simply might not want it in the home. An unappreciated gift is fine when it can just be tossed in a closet, but when it’s a living creature, it can end very badly. The worst-case scenario is a neglected animal that winds up being sent to a humane shelter and possibly even euthanized.
In the long run, giving a companion animal to someone that cannot or does not want to take care of it is a recipe for disaster for both the animal and the reluctant owner. Don’t risk a surprise; instead, be sure that the pet is wanted before going ahead with the gift to make sure it will be welcome and loved.