Don't buy live bunnies this Easter, animal officials warn parents

They’re adorably fluffy, but the director of Pasco County Animal Services is warning parents, there’s much you don’t know about owning a rabbit: Starting with perhaps the biggest shocker -- they’re not made for cuddling.

"You can’t do that with a rabbit," PCAS Director Mike Shumate said. "Rabbits bite. Their teeth grow constantly."

Three local animal groups — Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center, Pasco County Animal Services, and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay — came together Monday to educate the public on why buying a live Easter bunny is a bad idea.

"You’ve got to do your research because a lot of times, it ends in tragedy," said Sherry Silk, the CEO of the Humane Society.

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From shelter to food, Shumate said there’s a lot to be learned.

"What they sell you in the pet store is probably not what that rabbit needs as far as an enclosure to live in – It wants to live in something where it can move around," he said. "If you improperly feed it, chances are, your rabbit is going to get sick and die," Shumate said.

If it’s too much to handle, the worst thing you can do is release it into the wild. 

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"They can’t live in the heat – anything over 80 degrees, they can die out there," Shumate said. "They don’t know how to forage and fend for themselves."

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay said every year, they adopt out around 200 bunnies, but they avoid adopting them out to families with young children. They said this Easter, instead of bringing home one of these bunnies, bring home a chocolate bunny instead.

"Think chocolate and do research before you adopt," said Silk. "If you haven’t done your research, get a kitten, get a puppy, get a dog – rabbits just don’t make the ideal pets."