Remember, bunnies are not just for Easter
With the longer days, lambs popping up in the fields like flowers, and the sun (occasionally) showing its face, it really is beginning to look a lot more like spring in our county.
Of course, with spring comes the Easter Bunny.
Up and down the country, families might be thinking about getting a cute bunny for their little ones as an Easter present, but is this a good idea?
Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, with an estimated 1.5 million bunnies being part of our families nationwide.
They are fantastic animals: highly social and intelligent, rabbits can make excellent and very rewarding pets.
There is, however, a common misconception that rabbits are easy pets to have and that they make good first pets for children.
More often than not, this is not the case as rabbits can be high maintenance and are prone to a number of health issues.
The average rabbit will live for six to 10 years, which is definitely a long-term commitment.
They also come with their own host of unique problems.
If fed incorrectly, rabbits commonly suffer from teeth abnormalities and gut issues; E. Cuniculi is a parasite that can affect the ears, eyes and balance; and, of course, there is the dreaded fly strike.
Myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease are both diseases requiring preventative vaccination as both can cause intense suffering and prove fatal.
Housing should also be carefully considered, with a lot of rabbits spending their life in cramped hutches.
Rabbits need shelter from the rain, sun, heat, cold, wind and draughts, but also enough room to sleep, hide and exercise.
Their resting area should be large enough for them to be able to lie down and stretch out, stand up on their hind legs without their ears touching the ceiling, and move around easily.
An exercise area should allow them to have a good stretch and run, with different levels for them to play on.
Most importantly, their home needs to be safe and be able to protect them from predators.
Being social animals, rabbits should never be kept alone and they need a bunny friend to keep them company. However, introducing unfamiliar rabbits may be tricky so take expert advice before doing so.
Like a dog or a cat, rabbits can be excellent companions and will reward you in their own little ways.
Each bunny has his or her own character, ranging from cheeky and mischievous to cuddly and loving.
They are very excitable little creatures and when they are happy will ‘binky’ – jumping into the air and springing around.
Some bunnies love cuddles and will happily spend an evening watching the TV with you.
They listen to commands, and can even be taught to run obstacle courses and to be toilet trained.
Bunnies deserve our love and attention as much as any other pet.
If you are considering becoming a rabbit owner, firstly carry out your research regarding all their needs and healthcare as we have only skimmed the surface in this article.
Consider becoming a member of our Rabbit Healthy Pet Club, where vaccinations, microchipping, six-monthly health checks and reduced priced dentals are all included.
If you have any questions, or if you are worried about the health of you rabbit, please talk to one of our vets.
So when it comes to bunnies this Easter, it may be easier, and lighter on the pocket, to stick to the chocolate ones.
Alnorthumbria Vets is a mixed practice that treats all species of domestic animals, with separate teams of vets for farm animals, horses and small animals.