Chicks And Bunnies
“Ninety-five percent of all rabbits and chicks that are given as Easter presents will be dead before their first birthday.” I got this from a Facebook posting, with no attribution, so I don’t know if this is true or not, but I suspect that it is. Easter, for many people, means cute baby bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks, but neither of these animals stays that way. Baby bunnies grow into adult rabbits who probably don’t want to be cuddled, and may kick, bite and scratch to prevent unwanted attention. Chicks become chickens. So, the rabbit or chicken gets taken to the nearest shelter, or worse, gets turned loose.
Both rabbits and chickens can make wonderful pets, but as with any pet, you should research these animals and not just buy them on a whim. With chicks or ducklings, remember that these animals are flock animals and do best with others of their kind. In this respect, state law has helped to curb the impulse to put just one in a basket because it is against the law to buy fewer than six chickens, and there is a similar law regarding ducklings. If you’re seriously planning to raise poultry, then fine, start with some Easter chicks. Just remember that when they grow up, you’ll need to have safe housing to protect them from predators, as well as supplying a proper diet. Otherwise, consider marshmallow Peeps, which come in a variety of colors and don’t mind being neglected.
If a rabbit really is the family choice for a pet, that’s fine, but consider where the animal will live and how much care it needs before you bring it home. Rabbits need attention and socialization or they can get cranky and bite and scratch. They can be litter box trained, but this takes work and I’ve read that to be on the safe side you should have a litter box in every room that is accessible to the rabbit.
If your family has decided on a rabbit for a pet, you need to decide whether it will live outdoors or in. I’ve seen wonderful rabbit hutches for sale that include both an enclosed “house,” and an open-air cage. The house part usually has a hinged roof for easy cleaning access. There may or may not be a door in the open-air section. Generally, hutches are elevated to keep the rabbit safe from dogs and cats.
A rabbit kept indoors should have a wire-bottom cage, with a tray beneath to catch droppings. Provide a small area with a solid floor for resting, but leave the rest open wire. Rabbits have sensitive bottoms and lying in urine or feces can cause problems. Whether your rabbit lives indoors or out, make sure it doesn’t get overheated in either place; excessive heat can kill a rabbit. Forget about the image of a rabbit dining happily on lettuce and a carrot or two. They may enjoy these items as a treat, but not as a regular diet. Feed a quality rabbit food and buy a heavy ceramic bowl for feeding. Rabbits, for some reason, enjoy food fights, flinging bowls and food. A heavy bowl will keep the cage cleaner and save wasting food.
Besides food fights, rabbits like a good chew. Their teeth keep growing throughout their lifetime, so chewing on things is a must to keep the growth in check. If you plan to let your rabbit run loose in the house, make sure it is supervised. Cover electric cords with protectors or run them through a length of PVC pipe. Have plenty of rabbit-approved chewing sticks or branches available and keep an eye on your pet to make sure he hasn’t decided that the dining room table leg would make a tasty snack.
If you’re not ready to make a commitment to properly care for a rabbit for 10 years or more, stick with chocolate bunnies. They come in a variety of sizes, and may be solid or hollow. There are even white chocolate, and carob bunnies, or stock up on the marshmallow bunnies that are also called Peeps.
Fill your Easter baskets with a rainbow of marshmallow chicks and bunnies-yellow, pink, blue, purple, orange. Add a chocolate bunny or two, and have a happy Easter without having to worry about what you’re going to do with that chick or bunny beyond the question of eating it now or later.