Hare today, abandoned tomorrow: Why bunnies make bad Easter gifts

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the U.S.  Unfortunately, they're also the third most abandoned.  It's a problem that becomes especially prevalent in the weeks after Easter.

Ruth Marie Fledermaus has spent about a decade rescuing rabbits and is currently fostering more than a dozen with the Huntsville Friends of Rabbits organization.

"This is the time of year when people think, 'oh, I'll get my child a little bunny for Easter.' It's almost like a rite of passage," said Fledermaus.

Unfortunately, she says the majority of these animals will be surrendered to animal shelters.  Many others will be turned loose in the woods, where it is nearly impossible for a domestic rabbit to survive.

The truth is, rabbits don't make very good pets for children, Fledermaus says.

As prey animals, most resist being held and are easily frightened. "They can bite, scratch, kick and lunge," she says.

Rabbits can also be expensive, requiring fresh vegetables and specialized veterinary care.

That's not to say they can't be excellent companions for the right people, though.  Fledermaus says many older couples and young professionals find rabbits to be the perfect pets, companionable and quiet.

Read what The Humane Society has to say about the adoption and care of rabbits.

One more word of caution for potential owners, it is illegal in Alabama to buy, trade or give away  baby rabbits.  The same law also applies to baby chicks.