By Tina Boenig-Gilson, President
Alamo City House Rabbits
The Easter Bunny. Jessica Rabbit. Bugs Bunny. Rabbits as pets, food and fur coats. No other domesticated animal has such a complicated and confusing story. Spain is the homeland for the ancestors of our domestic rabbits, where their two thousand year association with humans started as food animals kept by the Romans. Many of the 350 breeds of rabbits were created in 16th to 19th century Europe, and eventually brought to America. North and South America have their own unique species of wild rabbit relatives – the cottontails, jackrabbits and pikas. (In Aztec mythology, native cottontail or jackrabbit divinities called the Centzon Tōtōchtin (Nahuatl “four-hundred rabbits”) were gods of drunkenness and protectors of pulque.)
In the modern era, domestic rabbits have become the third most common companion animal, and also the third most surrendered pet in shelters across the country. Thousands end up in shelters but many more are dumped outside to go back to the wild where they cannot survive. Rabbits are bought from local pet stores and flea markets as ‘starter’ pets for children or an Easter present, then quickly abandoned when the child becomes bored, or their care and special needs become too difficult or expensive. The disillusioned or desperate owner says, “It’s just a rabbit”, and because they look like a wild animal, it’s easy to turn them loose.
San Antonians love their companion animals, including rabbits, but let’s try to do better by them. Learn about their care and needs before you bring a rabbit into your home. Make sure it’s the right decision and adopt, don’t shop. Alamo City House Rabbits is a San Antonio based non-profit rescue that is here to be that guide, and each month in La Prensa we will be bringing you more information about these beautiful creatures.