Six things to consider before giving your kids a little critter for the holiday.
As Easter approaches, many parents are tempted to buy a baby bunny or chick as the crowning jewel of their young children’s Easter baskets. The kids will love the cuddly critter, they think. We’ll get some great photos, they envision. And while those things might be true, there are a few additional things to consider beyond Easter Sunday before you buy that baby bunny or chick.
Our animal experts at Anderson Humane have compiled a handy list of the things you should think about before adding a rabbit or chick to your household this holiday.
Bunnies and chicks have a life span of at least 10 years. After the jelly beans are all eaten, the Easter eggs have all been found, and the fancy outfits have been put away for another year, is your family prepared to feed, house, and care for these animals – week after week, month after month, year after year? Keep in mind that rabbits and chicks aren’t low-maintenance pets. They require special diets, habitats, training, and care – similar to the effort to care for a dog or cat.
Bunnies and chicks need special veterinary care. Both animals need vaccines, physical exams, and annual testing to keep them healthy. It’s also worth noting that many veterinarians don’t treat rabbits or avian patients as they require specialized training in exotics. Before welcoming a bunny or chick into your home, it’s worth checking with your local vet to see if he or she can provide your animals the care they need.
Bunnies and chicks need the right kind of caregivers. Rabbits are best with people who have lots of patience, are at home a lot, can spend a lot of time on the floor, and aren’t overly fussy about their furniture. Chicks are best for people who are disciplined, as they need constant care when they are young with proper access to water, the right kind of food, and a heat lamp set to a different temperature each week for at least the first two months of their life. As chicks age, you need to check local ordinances to be sure you can keep chickens legally in your neighborhood.
Bunnies and chicks are often returned. We bring up all the points above not to be a killjoy but to help you learn from others’ experiences. Rabbits are the third most frequently surrendered animals at shelters and the third most euthanized. Additionally, even experienced chicken keepers often have a difficult time keeping chicks alive. No parent wants to have the joy of an Easter present give way to a tough discussion about why Buttercup had to go back to the store, or worse yet, isn’t alive anymore.
Bunnies and chicks can be enjoyed on a temporary basis; try doing so as a foster family if you want to bring a little critter into your home this Easter. This gives you a short-term taste of what caring for a bunny or other furry friend is like. And it helps a shelter care for an animal looking for a forever home. Fostering is a great way to see if you’re reading for a long-term commitment with a pet. Anderson Humane is always looking for people to join our fostering community. Or sign your kids up for our Summer Critter Camps, where they can learn about and interact with all kinds of animals.
If you’ve considered all of the above and decide that a bunny or other little critter is right for your family, don’t shop, adopt! There are plenty of animals in shelters who need a good home, and pet shops often get their animals from breeding mills that don’t treat animals well. Anderson Humane has many fuzzy friends looking for a loving home this season – and all year round.