Easter is right around the corner. Children everywhere are becoming excited thinking about chocolate bunnies, Peeps & colored eggs, while parents & grandparents are thinking how cute it would be to have their child wake up to a cuddly bunny or fuzzy chick on Easter morning. If you are thinking of giving your child or grandchild a live bunny or chick please do your research and be prepared!
Statistics show most people who purchase bunnies consider them to be disposable & about 80% of rabbits purchased as house pets are given away, brought to a shelter or abandoned in the wild within a year of purchase. A simple search of “rabbits for adoption” will lead to hundreds of rescue sites. There are over 5400 rabbits available for adoption on petfinder.com alone. According to House Rabbit Services, they rescue about 1500 rabbits a year from local shelters.
Rabbits & baby chicks do not make good pets for small children for many reasons.
Most people are disappointed to find that cute cuddly baby bunny they bought at the pet store does not stay cute & cuddly for long. Rabbits, especially babies, are very social and require a lot of time and attention. They are also very delicate animals that can unintentionally be hurt when picked up by a small child. Rabbits will become frightened when picked up; squirming until they are free which means your child could be hurt too. When frightened they may bite, runaway or become prone to stress related illness. Since rabbits are very sensitive to change, a routine for feeding, cleaning & exercise must be established. Let us not forget toilet training, be prepared for accidents and to help save on damaging household items you should “bunny proof” same as you would for a child. If you decide to adopt a rabbit, please do so from a shelter and do your research. You should realize that he will be “your” responsibility. It is unreasonable to expect a child of any age to take responsibility for care of a rabbit.
As for the baby chicks, they should never be considered as a house pet especially for a small child. Did you know that baby chicks & ducks carry salmonella? According to David Fester of Worldwide Health, The New Mexico Department of Health advises families to avoid potential exposure to salmonella by not giving baby chicks and ducklings to children as Easter gifts. Some of the risk factors for people getting sick with salmonella from baby chicks were keeping them inside the house and allowing small children to handle and snuggle with the baby birds,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, state public health veterinarian at the Department of Health.
So, Mom and Dad, how about this year we stick with the chocolate bunnies & peeps or better yet, donate to a local animal shelter in your child’s name and give them the gift of giving.