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Animal Shelters Urge People Not to Buy Live Bunnies for Easter

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News
Rabbit rescue centers and animal shelters say they've noticed that people bring in a lot of bunnies about a month after Easter.

For some, Easter means dyeing eggs, stuffing candy into colorful baskets, and maybe eating some of those chocolate Easter bunnies. But some people have noticed another trend: Parents buy their kids baby bunnies – real ones – for Easter.

Then, once the bunnies grow to full size – some can be up to 13 pounds – what had at first seemed like a cute gift ends up demanding a lot of care.

“Bunny-proofing – rabbits chew,” says Theresa Ransom-Nelson, treasurer of a rabbit rescue shelter in Pflugerville that houses nearly 200 rabbits.

“You need to get those electrical cords up off the floor. You might want to consider a baby gate to keep your rabbit in an area where you and your family spend most of your time,” she says.

The rescue shelter where Ransom-Nelson works right now is home to about 180 rabbits. She says she sees a lot of people dropping rabbits off about a month after Easter – maybe when the cute factor’s worn off.

And this trend is not limited to Texas. Three women in Columbus, Ohio started a campaign called “Make Mine Chocolate,” which urges people to buy only chocolate bunnies, not living ones. The campaign has been around for about 14 years.

Lauralei Combs of the Austin Animal Center feels the same way about the Easter bunny fad. She says that once about a month goes by and the baby rabbits start to mature, people bring more rabbits than usual to the center.

"It's probably better — if you're not willing to make that lifetime commitment...that you get a chocolate bunny," Combs says.

Ransom-Nelson urges people to buy a rabbit only if they’re in it for the long haul, as rabbits can live as long as 12 years.

“You wouldn’t buy a reindeer for your child at Christmas, why would you buy an Easter rabbit?” she says. 

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.