Rabbits are cute (but make lousy Easter gifts)

This cheat sheet about rabbit care will help you decide if getting a new fuzzy family member is right for you.

A Lionhead Rabbit.
A Lionhead Rabbit.(Shutterstock)

Live rabbits are often thought of as ideal Easter gifts, but humane societies caution against making an impulse purchase because of the care required and their long life span.

8-10 years — Average life span of domesticated rabbits, comparable to dogs

Rabbits are the third most owned, and simultaneously third most surrendered, pet in Massachusetts, after dogs and cats.

370 — Number of rabbits that were surrendered to the MSPCA in 2014

Lionhead Rabbit — The breed most frequently taken in by the MSPCA. It is known for the tufts of fur framing its face like a mane.

> 154,686 dogs up for adoption in and around Boston on Petfinder.com at press time


> 114,285 cats

> 4,492 rabbits

> 2,790 gerbils, rats, hamsters, etc.

> 1,987 birds

> 179 pigs

CARE 101

> Carrots are treats. Rabbits are grazing animals, like horses or cows. They prefer to eat hay and grass, with a side of selected leafy greens and plain food pellets.

> Rabbits have a high risk of developing cancer. Reproductive cancers are the most common, so if you spay or neuter your rabbit, chances are you are simultaneously extending their life span.


> If you're worried about a mess, get this: Rabbits can be box-trained like cats. Just make sure to hold the litter and use alfalfa instead.

> Rabbits can be trained like dogs to perform tricks. Some can sit when told, roll small objects on command, and even jump through hoops.


1901 — English author Beatrix Potter releases a privately printed version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

1902 — Frederick Warne & Co. commercially publishes the book.

1910 — Thornton Waldo Burgess of Sandwich, Massachusetts, publishes his first book, Old Mother West Wind, which features a character named Peter Rabbit. The children's author goes on to write more than 170 books.


1965 — Burgess dies at the age of 91.

2015 — Burgess's fans can visit the Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (413-584-3009; massaudubon.org) in Hampden and see his former home, as well as East Sandwich's Green Briar Nature Center (508-888-6870; thorntonburgess.org), operated by the Thornton W. Burgess Society.