Easter or not, rabbits deserve better. Here’s why you shouldn’t mine or eat them.

The world is full of adorable and adoptable bunnies looking to give you love all year round. Unfortunately, rabbit rescues and shelters are seeing an increase in the number of abandoned rabbits who were adopted for playtime in the spring, only to be sent back after the season ended. Rabbits are also the most exploited animal species in the world: they are used in the production of food and clothing, tested, bred and turned into commodities. Even scarier, it is estimated that 8 million rabbits are killed each year for their meat. Animal advocate and professional photographer Tara Baxter co-founded the Rabbit Advocacy Network (RAN) with members of the rescue organization SaveABunny to better combat the exploitation of rabbits, and in 2015 she was instrumental in pressure on Whole Foods Market to stop selling rabbit meat in its stores. Baxter, who lives with four rabbits rescued by SaveABunny, thinks they are perfect companions for animal advocates. Indeed, Rabbits are social and intelligent, as well as devoted companions who crave affection and activity. Here are six fun facts about these furry creatures you’ll want to know.

Tara Baxter

1 They’re not just a cute face.

Rabbits are intelligent and easily litter trained. They are also meticulously clean, both in their environment and in their own fur. They groom themselves, and if you ask anyone who lives with rabbits and loves them, they’d talk endlessly about the sweet smell of their rabbit’s fur, especially that warm, fluffy piece on their neck. Rabbits like to dig and chew, so it is recommended to protect their environment against rabbits. You can usually protect your own things by giving the rabbit willow baskets or cardboard tunnels to nibble on.

VegNews.BunniesTara Baxter

2They love to make friends.

Rabbits can get along with cats and dogs, but a slow, supervised introduction is recommended. Rabbits enjoy the company of other rabbits, but just like us, they prefer to choose their own companions. Most rabbit rescues have rabbit matching services to help your rabbit find a friend. When adopting, consider bringing home a pair, as this will save you the hassle of finding a friend for your bunny down the line. They are devoted to you, their human friend, just as they are devoted to their rabbit companion.

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3They huddle on their own terms.

Because rabbits are prey animals, they generally don’t like to be picked up or held. Once all four of their feet are off the ground, they panic and react as if they are being taken by a predator, such as a hawk. They can kick and bite, and humans usually respond by dropping them. Their bones are particularly fragile and they are easily injured. They love to cuddle, but on their own terms. Rabbits also prefer a quiet environment without rambunctious children or loud adults.

VegNews.BunnyTara Baxter

4They love to be spoiled.

Spaying and neutering, annual vet checkups, fresh greens and hay, nail trimming, administering medication, combing the fur, maintaining the litter box…it all adds up. Rabbits like to be spoiled and need your commitment and responsibility for about a decade.

VegNews.BunnyTara Baxter

5 They prefer to move freely.

How many times have you heard the myth that rabbits are mean and bite you? This may be true of rabbits left to languish in a cage – the all-too-common, yet incredibly cruel housing choice for most pet rabbits. You’d be grumpy too if you spent your life in a space the size of an airplane seat. That’s how it is with rabbits in cages and hutches. Rather, they thrive as free-ranging indoor pets, much like cats and dogs. Some people think rabbits love the outdoors, but domestic rabbits are not the same as wild rabbits. There are too many dangerous factors to house a rabbit outside safely. They also can’t survive very long on their own in the wild, so “freeing them” usually means a death sentence.

VegNews.BunnyTara Baxter

6They are faithful companions.

Like most prey, rabbits need to build trust so they can approach and befriend you. When they do, they are very loyal companions. They enjoy social interactions with people. Ask anyone who shares their life with rabbits and they’ll tell you that each rabbit has a distinct personality. They can be shy, nervous, outgoing, playful, obnoxious, curious, hilarious, and opinionated. They love toys and mental stimulation. And they love to have their heads patted. This mimics the affection rabbits show to each other and they can sit and be petted for hours. They are crepuscular, which means they are most active in the morning and evening, making them a great companion for working adults. Arriving at 8 p.m., your bunny is usually ready to party with you.

To learn more about animals, read:
These 10 facts about fish will make you swear by seafood
12 Wonderful Turkey Facts That Will Make Your Thanksgiving Vegan
The Truth About Craigslists “Free” Pets

Tara Baxter is a Northern California-based photographer and rabbit advocate currently photographing rabbits around the world for an upcoming book on domesticated rabbits, in collaboration with animal rights author Mark Hawthorne.

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