They are lovable even in the off-season. But with Easter around the corner, the temptation to buy or adopt a bunny to surprise the family or make him a part of the seasonal decorations is even greater.

The trouble is Thumper’s novelty factor may not last beyond the holiday weekend, says Haviva Lush, the executive director of Rabbit Rescue, a Milton-based registered charity that takes in more than 500 small abandoned, abused, or neglected rabbits every year and places them in foster homes.

“Easter purchases are often impulse purchases, and they will just be returned later on,” Lush said. “We do find that in the months following Easter we have an influx of surrenders, because people don’t have any idea what they have gotten themselves into.”

Only a handful of pet stores in the city sell rabbits. Most refer customers to animal shelters, like the Toronto Humane Society.

Ian McConachie, a spokes­person with the Toronto Humane Society, says they tend to see a small increase in people looking for rabbits in the week leading up to Easter. But all potential owners have to undergo a stringent process before they can take a bunny home.

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