NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana SPCA is warning against the gifting of rabbits in Easter baskets. 

While they can be suitable companion animals, LA SPCA encourages potential rabbit owners to thoroughly research the responsibility associated with caring for the animal. 

Rabbits can live up to 10-15 years and require as much care as a dog or cat. They must be spayed or neutered, house trained and homes bunny-proofed as they love to chew electrical cords, rugs, books and even furniture, the LA SPCA said.

Rabbits are also physically delicate animals that are easily frightened. The LA SPCA said rabbits will often resist interaction and can be hurt by even the gentlest child.

LA SPCA CEO Ana Zorrilla said they encourage parents to take a moment and consider the realities of living with a rabbit. 

"Rabbits can be a wonderful companion animal in the right home, but we often see impulse purchases of bunnies and chicks this time of year,” Zorrilla said. 

In the last two years, LA SPCA said it has taken in more than 80 rabbits from the Greater New Orleans area and said hundreds of rabbits are turned into local shelters, humane societies, rabbit rescues or released into the wild each year following the Easter holiday.

The Louisiana SPCA encourages basket givers to go with a chocolate or plush bunny instead. Marshmallow chicks are also a great substitute for real chicks.