Rabbit 101: Prepare for the Easter Bunny’s visit

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With Easter hopping closer, and stuffed bunnies and chocolate eggs coating store shelves, it’s the perfect time to reflect on VIU’s own rabbit friends.

NEW13_bunnycampaignVI Abbie, a bunny character who represents VIU on social media platforms as the Lead Student Ambassador for the Engagement Enrolment Office, held an online campaign February 29 to March 4 to educate students on the campus rabbits.

The purpose of the campaign was to create student awareness that bunnies are wild animals and that people endanger them by treating them as pets, said Dakota Den Duyf of VIU’s Office of Enrolment Management. Since VIU shares space with many wild animals, people must understand how to properly coexist with them.

“The idea came from a post on Facebook encouraging students to feed the bunnies food that is not healthy for them. One of our student ambassadors responded with a comment about healthy food options, and we thought it might be a good idea to do a week-long campaign on healthy co-habitation tips,” said Den Duyf. “The bunny population is growing very fast—they are being pet and fed by the students and, as a result, they have also become very tame, which makes them susceptible to predators.”

Over the week, VI Abbie published several bunny facts on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms.

Here is what we learned:

  • Avoid petting rabbits; it affects natural instincts and vulnerability  to predators. Predators include hawks, feral cats, raccoons, and eagles. Nanaimo city Bylaw 4923.07 prohibits the feeding of feral rabbits within the municipality, and the fine for doing so is $100.
  • The Easter bunny has got some competition. Roughly 840 bunnies are born annually on VIU’s Nanaimo campus, so they really do breed like rabbits.
  • Bunnies are confused about their animal identity. A male is called a buck, a female a doe, and a baby a kid or kitten.
  • One is the loneliest number. Rabbits are social animals, and they love companionship.
  • Much like your fellow last-minute study crammers, bunnies are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dusk and dawn.
  • A rabbit’s squeak is an expression of joy. They often do this when you see them flipping and twisting around in the air like crazy gymnasts.
  • They’re all descendants of immigrants. There are no species of rabbits native to Vancouver Island—the ones found here are European.

You can keep up-to-date on all things VIU by following VI Abbie on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.