Like chicks, chocolate eggs, and daffodils, rabbits have become synonymous with spring and Easter time.
But the owner of an Eastbourne rabbit rescue is calling on people to think carefully before they decide to make a pet of one of the cuddly animals.
Caroline Greenhill currently has around 45 rabbits in her care at the makeshift shelter in her Hampden Park home.
She said, “I have already had messages from people specifically wanting rabbits for Easter. They aren’t Easter presents, they are a 10 year commitment.
“People think ‘I’ll get a cute fluffy bunny, stick it in a hutch down the garden and it will be fine’. But they need so much more than that. They deserve much better.”
She told the Herald one owner had said they would rather put down their rabbit and buy a new one than pay a hefty vet bill.
She said, “They are not cheap pets, you have got to provide for them for a good 10-12 years. And they are prey animals, they don’t necessarily like to be held.
“A bunny on its own is a very lonely bunny. They’re much better in pairs. They are so sociable. They have all got their own personalities and quirky ways.”
For 17 years, Caroline has rescued hundreds of rabbits from lives of neglect, and some which have simply been dumped.
One of her current rescues is a rabbit found in squalid conditions who had become pregnant by one of her own babies. She is now caring for the adorable litter and has 14 kittens (rabbit young) at her shelter.
The mum said, “It’s heartbreaking to think one of our rabbits is not even one year old and has had two litters.
“Facebook has a lot to answer for. One rabbit and her litter was advertised for free, I said please don’t do that – they can end up as dog bait or in the wrong hands. If we hadn’t taken them, I dread to think what would have happened to them.”
Having previously retired, Caroline is back looking after rabbits with nowhere else to go. Funded entirely by donations and out of her own money, she makes sure the animals are vaccinated and healthy before finding their ‘forever homes’.
“It’s rewarding when I send them off to a new home,” Caroline said, “Or when a grieving bunny finds love again, or a single bunny finds it for the first time. Seeing them neatly grooming each other.
“But it does bring a lot of heartbreak as well. My dream is to run an animal sanctuary.”
She says anyone thinking of seriously considering getting a rabbit should be prepared to pay expensive vet bills, make sure they have at least a 6ft long hutch and play area for the animals, and have more than one so they are not lonely.
Adopt don’t shop
But most importantly, Caroline’s advice is “adopt don’t shop”. She said, “Every rescue is bursting at the seams with bunnies needing homes.
“There are so many benefits with rescues, like constant back up, nail clipping, and holiday care. And you are giving a bunny a second chance of a forever home.”
To find out more about Eastbourne Rabbit Rescue, search it on Facebook. You can also help by visiting Eastbourne rescue selling page, also on Facebook.