Who doesn’t love tiny little chicks, with their innocent little peeps? Or fluffy bunny butts, with big floppy ears? We all do. However, these animals do not make good “whim-decision” pets during Easter.
Did you know that thousands of bunnies and chicks are surrendered in the weeks following Easter? In fact, over 80% of bunnies that were surrendered, were purchased as a gift during this holiday. While it seems like a lovely sentiment, it only makes you a contributing factor to the continuous issue of animal shelter overcrowding. Below is a list of the top reasons why these little critters are not meant to be an Easter basket accessory.
With proper care and maintenance, the average backyard chicken will live 7-8 years. That means a clean coop, quality food, space to roam and protection from predators. Though they are fairly low maintenance, that does not equal no maintenance. Consider the time you are gone over the weekends and during the day. They must be fed and watered daily.
Now, let’s talk about bunnies. According to the House Rabbit Society, the average lifespan of a pet rabbit is around 8-12 years. Some breeds could live even longer than that! Your little elementary school child will be delighted to receive a tiny bunny, but then they go off to college and you’re still caring for a rabbit…8 years later. Think about that for a minute.
Your new critter will need a new home. For chickens, that includes a weather-appropriate coop, bedding such straw or pine shavings, a poultry waterer, feeder, scratch grains, grit, and a high-quality layer pellet. The monthly expenses do not stop, even when your chickens stop laying eggs. The cost to keep a rabbit varies as well. Keep in mind: their cage, bedding, feed, nail trimming, grooming, and veterinary care. Not only are you committing to an animal for its entire life, but you are also committing to the financial obligation that comes with it.
Disease, Pest, and Rodent Factors
While I agree that backyard chickens provide a lovely “farm-like” ambiance, there are some health risks associated with keeping these birds. Chickens carry both Salmonella and Campylobacter, which is a bacteria transmitted through exposure to chickens, their manure, eggs, and the consumption of undercooked chicken.
Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that is also a cause for concern when keeping chickens. It can be transmitted through bird droppings, making it imperative to maintain a clean coop. Backyard chickens can also attract predators and rodents into your neighborhood. This could become an issue if you live in an urban area with neighbors close by.
Rabbits typically carry fewer animal-to-human diseases, but while the risk is low, there is still a risk. They can pass the bacteria, Pasteurella multocida, through scratches or bites, which could cause a local infection. In the immunocompromised population, these infections may be more serious.
Unhoppy, Now What?
Ok, I get it. You are dead set on providing an amazing experience for your children this Easter. There are ways to do this without buying an animal that you’ve not considered for the long haul. Find a local farmer. Ask them to borrow some chicks for a few days. This way, the children can care for these animals and learn about them, but you’re not surrendering them in the coming weeks and months.
Did you know that there are places that allow you to Rent-A-Chick? Yes! You read that correctly! Often, photographers like to use these little critters in photoshoots and other promotional material. Please do your research online and try to find a reputable company. Ask around! Talk to a local farmer or 4-H organization.
While this post is not meant to dissuade those potential pet parents that are serious about these animals, it is meant to provide some insight to those who maybe do not understand the implications of making such a whim decision. This is especially true when you are tempted to purchase a little peeper at the farm and fleet.
Many neighborhoods, both rural and urban, have zoning regulations or covenants that may not allow you to keep such a pet. Then what? Sadly, many people surrender their birds to a local animal shelter, where crowding is real. These poor facilities are forced to euthanize these birds because they have not been adopted. Moreover, many release their bunnies into the wild, thinking they are setting them free. In fact, they never make it very long as they are not bred to forage and live in the wild.
For those that decide to take the plunge and become a backyard chicken keeper, or a bunny mom, there are options for you and your critter while you’re away. Professional pet services are a great way to ensure your pet is well cared for and watered while you’re gone.
Think before you buy. This is a life we are talking about, not a toy.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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