Rabbits are adorable and docile creatures that have special symbolism around Easter. There are many different breeds of rabbits that vary in size and features. For example, cotton-tail rabbits tend to be small and have ears that point upwards while mini-lops are larger and have long drooping ears.
Although they vary in types and sizes, rabbits are basically small mammals that inhabit forests, meadows and deserts. They are most active at dawn and dusk. They are excellent diggers and usually live underground in burrows. Rabbits are most commonly found in North America but they are also located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa and South America. Rabbits tend to live between 9-12 years—although they can exceed that life span, especially when kept as pets. Rabbits are herbivores that feast mainly on grasses and some vegetables like carrots. For these reasons they are sometimes considered pests by farmers.
Although most rabbits live in the wild, they can also make marvelous family pets. Domestic rabbits do well living in enclosed spaces such as cages and tanks as long as they have adequate food, water, shelter and some toys for mental stimulation. Rabbits are gentle and friendly which makes them ideal pets for children; they are also relatively easy to care for.
Due to their wide habitat range, rabbits are well known to humans and they have subsequently been featured in many folk stories and legends. In Chinese mythology rabbits are considered to be the luckiest sign of the zodiac. Other Asian cultures also associate the creatures with good fortune. Children’s literature from “Peter Rabbit” to “Br’er Rabbit” is filled with bunny characters. Even cartoons like “Bugsy Bunny” have used the popularity of rabbits to entertain. More recently, marketing campaigns like the cereal “Trix Rabbit” have also used the animal to popularize a brand.
The most famous bunny in present day culture is the Easter Bunny that has become the mascot of the Easter holiday. According to legend, the Easter Bunny brings colorfully painted eggs (usually with chocolate and other sweets inside of them) in a basket to children on Easter. Like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is a mythical mascot that has spawned many stories and merchandise; including the ever-famous bunny-shaped chocolate that is usually presented in Easter baskets.
Whether in the wild, as pets, or via legends, rabbits are a continuous presence in the world. By learning about rabbits—and possibly owning one as pet—children will learn how to be nurturing and respectful toward other living creatures.