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Parents: Bunnies and chicks are not Easter gifts
An annual reminder from the Tribune


Bunnies and baby chicks may be a lot of fun to look at, but few people recognize they also take a lot of time and energy as growing pets.
Animal groups emphasize: Bunnies and baby chicks are not cute Easter gifts to hand out to children.
Each year, thousands of baby rabbits, chicks and ducks are purchased as Easter gifts only to be abandoned or left at shelters in the days, weeks and months that follow Easter, says the House Rabbit Society, a California-based nonprofit group.
A suspicious number of young rabbits always trickle in six months after Easter, a manager at the Everett Animal Shelter told the paper in 2014. The shelter does not take in ducks or chickens.
“Sometimes a parent will think (a rabbit) is enough responsibility for a child to handle, but they really are a lot of work, like all pets are,” then-manager Dee Cordell said. Other times, children do not want the responsibility of caring for their live gift.
Baby chicks require warmth, chick food, water and grow into full-bodied chickens within five months. Chickens traditionally live in a coop.
Rabbits can live for 10 years.
“Rabbits are not ‘low maintenance’ pets and require at least the same amount of work as a cat or dog,” the rabbit group notes.
“If you are not sure you can make this kind of commitment, please consider buying your child a stuffed rabbit toy this Easter instead,” the group says.
The rabbit group lists these as points for rabbit care:
Housing: Bunnies need a roomy indoor cage that is approximately four times the size of the adult rabbit. The cage should have a resting board covering the wire bottom, as the wires can cause sores on the rabbit’s feet, and there should be room for a litter box, toys, food and water bowls.
Playtime: Rabbits need plenty of exercise and should be allowed at least 30 hours running time per week.
Outdoors: Rabbits should never be left outdoors unsupervised. They can quickly go into shock and die when approached by predators such as dogs, cats, raccoons and owls. They can also dig under fences to escape.
Litter Box: Should be in one corner of the rabbit’s cage, and the running space should contain at least one additional box. Use dust-free litter--not the clumping kind, and no softwood shavings.
Diet: Bunnies need fresh pellets, water, hay and one to two cups of fresh vegetables each day. Most veterinarians suggest limiting the pellets and feeding two cups fresh vegetables per 5 lb. rabbit each day. Rabbits should have fresh oat or timothy hay available 24 hours per day.
Grooming: Rabbits shed their coat four times per year; use a flea comb and brush away excess fur.
Ready now?
The Everett Animal Shelter has rabbits that have already been spayed or neutered. Sometimes the rabbits come with cages, too.
Cordell suggested that instead of surprising someone with a bunny to take them to the shelter to see if they want a bunny. She said your gift, instead of handing over a rabbit, would be to pay the adoption fee.

 

  

 


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