Hare Raiser: Rabbits Popular Gifts During Easter
A year ago, Christine Maness became enamored with Angora rabbits when she discovered them on the Internet.
Now, Maness and her boyfriend, James Pedersen, breed the rabbits at their Eastwood home, selling them year-round.
"I saw a picture of one and I totally freaked out, and I had to have one," Maness said.
Maness and Pedersen drove to Elizabeth City to get their first rabbit. Two months later, they drove back and purchased two more.
They have turned those rabbits into a business. They now breed and sell the rabbits.
"They are so adorable," Maness said. "We just couldn't stop."
Angoras don't resemble typical rabbits.
"They're kinda like a giant chinchilla," said Pedersen of the puffy rabbits. "The first time I saw them, I kept thinking there was something on 'Fraggle Rock' they reminded me of."
They have about 30 rabbits. In the last two weeks, they have sold 10 rabbits and are holding several more for Easter gifts.
"I have a lot more that people have paid for and want me to hold until Saturday night so they can pick up for Easter and surprise their kids." Pedersen said.
Maness said she never expected the rabbits, which she describes as docile and friendly, to win her heart so easily.
"Its like an obsession," Maness said. "They are part of the family. You hate to see them go."
The couple plan to use the rabbits as therapy pets, and Pedersen said they are also considering harvesting the fur, which is used to make clothing.
Angoras are not the only popular rabbits this season.
Rabbits are also popular at the local pet stores. Employees at WOW Pets in Aberdeen said they've had trouble keeping rabbits in stock this spring.
"There is a real big demand for them at Easter," said WOW owner Emily Sloan.
WOW gets its rabbits from North Carolina breeders.
Rabbits can be high-maintenance animals, requiring regular grooming (long-haired varieties) and regular cage cleanings.
"They are friendly as dogs," said Michelle Barth, an employee of WOW, "but they are a ton of work. ... They are the animal that requires the most work."
Some experts say rabbits and small children don't mix.
According to the House Rabbit Society, rabbits are ground-loving animals that can be easily frightened when held. Rabbits can live for 10 or more years. Bunnies are chewers and can damage electrical cords and furniture. Unspayed or unneutered rabbits will urinate to mark territory.
WOW does not accept returned rabbits.
Sloan said the staff encourages prospective pet owners to do their homework before selecting any pet, especially rabbits.
"We want them to make sure this is the right choice for them," Sloan said. "(Buying a rabbit) is a choice to add to their family. ... If it was a child, you wouldn't take it home for a day and then return it because you didn't like it."
Maness and Pedersen said they provide information sheets to customers who purchase their rabbits. The sheets offer tips on caring for the animals.
Baby chicks are also popular during Easter, but not in Moore County, according to Barth. Baby chicks can carry salmonella, a potentially harmful bacterium
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds. Children are most susceptible to infection because they are more likely than others to put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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