Purdue News

March 30, 2006

Purdue veterinarian: Easter bunnies hop-full of responsibilities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With Easter approaching, malls are full of baby bunnies that grab shoppers by the heartstrings, but an expert from Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine says animal lovers should resist the momentary urge to buy one.

Lindsay Borcherding and Dennis
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"Rabbits make wonderful pets, but they are a 10-year commitment," says Lorraine Corriveau, a pet wellness veterinarian at Purdue's Small Animal Hospital. "Like any other pet, they require attention."

Corriveau says it's important to keep in mind that rabbits:

•Require a large, solid-bottom cage with special bedding that needs to be changed weekly.

•Should be allowed out of their cage at least 30-60 minutes daily for supervised exercise, and the exercise area must be "bunny-proofed." Rabbits like to chew, so make sure there's nothing for them to chew on (including electrical cords) that can pose a safety hazard or cause gastrointestinal problems. Rabbits also like to dig, so the flooring needs to be able to accommodate this natural tendency.

• Require fresh timothy hay and green vegetables daily.

• Need annual physical exams by a veterinarian. A newly purchased rabbit should have a health check right away with a fecal evaluation for internal parasites. Some of these parasites can be fatal to very young rabbits.

• Should be spayed or neutered. Eighty percent of female rabbits that are not spayed will develop uterine cancer. Neutering will also minimize territorial aggression.

"So before you give in to that cute, long-eared, soft, twitching-nose baby bunny, remember that a rabbit is not a toy," Corriveau says.

Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432, maggiemorris@purdue.edu

Source: Lorraine Corriveau, (765) 494-7789, corrivea@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Related Web sites:
Veterinary Teaching Hospital


Dennis, a rabbit, receives care from Lindsay Borcherding, a senior veterinary student at Purdue's Small Animal Hospital after a dental procedure. (Photo provided by Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine/Kevin Doerr photo)


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