It might be coming up to Easter but one Nelson rabbit lover is warning parents about flippantly buying their children one as a new pet.
“Around this time of year there is a lot of impulse buying because they are cute, but they are quite tricky,” says Nadine Kuntz, who has three such furry friends.
Her call comes as the SPCA is inundated with rabbits due to many people dumping them after becoming bored or finding out they are harder to handle than first thought.
“You need patience,” says Nadine. “They are wonderful, but they aren’t like cats which you can just leave alone. They need attention.”
Her three rabbits tell a story. ‘Dennis Hopper’ came to her from the SPCA after being dumped. His hair was a matted mess and he needed to be shaved. ‘Snow’ came to her because the person who owned her couldn’t find a rental that would allow a pet and ‘Fluffy’ was given away because her teenage owner lost interest after two weeks.
But Nadine doesn’t want to warn people off getting a rabbit, she just wants to make sure people go into it with the right attitude.
Rabbits are social animals and need company and space, she says. Leaving them in a hutch is not a good option.
“Would you leave a cat in a hutch?”
They also cannot be left alone over a weekend as their health can turn quickly.
SPCA animal welfare inspector Jade Bennet says they have 13 rabbits at the moment which is “at capacity”, with a further six being fostered out.
“Sometimes people move to a new house or the kids get bored and they don’t want them anymore,” she says. “We do try to educate people when we are adopting out any animal that the owner is aware of all the animal’s needs and is able to cater for that, so they are not buying on a whim.”
On Easter Saturday, the SPCA is hosting an open day to celebrate its new “Bunny Barn” so people can come and learn about owning a rabbit. “It’s all about promoting education.”
Nadine says if people are serious about rabbits they should get one from the SPCA.
“They are very knowledgeable and it’s so much better than buying from a pet shop or breeder.”