If you’re a parent, you may be looking for cute, cuddly things to arrange in a big basket for your child this Easter season. Pet stores and “backyard breeders” will try to convince you that bunnies, chicks and baby ducks make a great Easter gift for a child. While it may seem like something fuzzy and playful would make a great addition to a kid’s Easter basket, the Humane Society and various other animal advocacy groups strongly advise against this type of gift. Before you decide to bring home a real live Easter bunny for your child, check out some of the facts:
Bunnies: According to representatives at the non-profit group, The Rabbit Haven, most people don’t understand the care and attention that a rabbit needs in order to thrive:
- It may be ill-advised to bring a rabbit into a home that already has larger pets such as a cat or dog, as these larger pets can scare a young rabbit or give it anxiety.
- Rabbits should be given a safe space to live indoors to protect them from predators and diseases.
- Rabbits may need to go to a special veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets.
- Pet owners should under no circumstances release a rabbit outdoors. It most likely will not survive more than a couple of days.
Chicks: Remember that cute little chickens will eventually turn into big, messy birds!
- Baby chickens that are purchased as Easter pets are likely to die within weeks due to improper handling or stress. Baby birds are fragile and children may “cuddle” the animal too roughly.
- The sex of baby chickens is hard to determine. You may think that you’re going to end up with a hen who will eventually lay eggs, when actually you’re in store for a large, crowing rooster. This is one of the main reasons that roosters end up in animal shelters.
- Chickens need special temperature-controlled housing, lined with clean straw and protected from predators.
- Many municipalities have laws against keeping chickens in residential areas.
Ducks: Ducks are surprisingly difficult to care for as pets:
- According to the Center for Disease Control, chicks and ducklings alike carry salmonella. Every year during the Easter season, some small children will be infected with the salmonella bacteria after coming in contact with one of these cute, fuzzy fowl.
- Ducks can live up to 20 years, which is a big commitment for a pet owner!
- Ducks are messy, pooping approximately once every 15 minutes.
- Ducklings cannot be released into a nearby pond once they mature. If territorial wild ducks don’t kill them, they will still be ill-equipped to survive in the wild.
Animal shelters have reported that there is a dramatic increase in pet abandonment after major holidays, mostly due to pets being given as surprise gifts. For this reason, most shelters advise against giving live animals as presents and some will not even allow animals to be adopted if they are intended as gifts.
For happy kids and happy animals, choose a cuddly stuffed animal for your child, a hearty plant (like an Easter cactus) or seed packets, or chocolate bunnies.