Taken from the ASPCA on 4-4-15
While it may be tempting to add an adorable bunny or baby chick to your child’s Easter basket this year, it’s important to consider the associated care and financial commitment necessary to maintain a rabbit or a chicken as a family pet. Unfortunately, thousands of former Easter bunnies and chicks are abandoned each year when their novelty wears off. Read on to find out more before bringing home a new pet this weekend:
Considering a Bunny?
Domestic rabbits are delightful companion animals. They are inquisitive, intelligent, sociable and affectionate. However, if you give your child a cute baby bunny, there’s a good chance he or will still be around long after your child becomes a teenager.
Here are a few facts about domestic rabbits:
- Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile, and require specialized veterinary care.
- The only place for a rabbit cage is indoors! Rabbits can die of a heart attack from the very approach of a predator.
- Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box.
- The most important component of your rabbit’s diet is grass hay, such as timothy or brome.
- A rabbit’s average life expectancy is eight to 12 years.
- Adoption is your best option! There are many homeless companion rabbits at shelters and rescue groups all across the country. Visit your local shelter or rescue group and find out how to adopt a rabbit (or even better, a bonded pair). For info on bunny care and rescue groups, head to the House Rabbit Society.
Before you fill your Easter basket with a live bunny, check out our top tips for how to take care of a pet rabbit.
Considering a Chick?
A tiny, fluffy baby chick may look adorable, but bringing home a chick can lead to many years of required care and responsibility—and might even be illegal in your area.
Here are some important notes about chicks and chickens:
- Chicks often come from commercial hatcheries—which may engage in questionable breeding and hatching practices—and which often send chicks by mail, which can be stressful and dangerous.
- Chickens can live for 10+ years. For female chickens, egg production tends to slow down after just a few years.
- Chickens should be able to perch, roost, nest, have fresh air and light, range safely outdoors, dust bathe and be part of a social unit. Baby chicks have certain needs that require a high level of hands-on care, such as being kept warm within a certain temperature range.
- When your chicken becomes sick or injured, avian veterinary help can be expensive and difficult to find.
- Some localities have bans on, or have housing/shelter/etc. requirements for, residential chickens.
- Chickens can carry pathogens on their bodies and in their droppings. Numerous human Salmonella outbreaks have been traced back to live chickens.
This Easter, it may be best to stick to candy in your child’s gift basket. For springtime safety tips, please visit our Pet Care section.