Animal rights group PETA has urged consumers to forgo adopting the furry creatures as household companions ahead of the Year of the Rabbit.
Pet shops in China and elsewhere in Asia have seen soaring sales of rabbits in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, which begins on February 3, but PETA on Friday warned the animals are often abandoned once the novelty wears off.
"There's no better time to help rabbits than during the Year of the Rabbit, and you can do so by refusing to support the pet trade that causes so many animals to suffer," said Beijing-based PETA campaigner Maggie Chen.
"Rabbits aren't just cute and fluffy -- they're high-maintenance animals who require significant resources, equipment, attention and veterinary care."
The group pointed out in a statement that rabbits have fragile bones, require lots of exercise and gnaw on everything in sight -- making them less than ideal pets for all but the most patient of owners.
"Rabbits are complex animals, and potential caretakers -- who often purchase the animals on a whim -- rarely understand the specific needs of their new companions," PETA said.
A group of "crush fetishists" sparked an online furore in November after uploading graphic videos showing attractive young Chinese women crushing small rabbits.