Easter can be seen as a magical time to children; full of an array of bright colours, chocolate eggs and images of fluffy bunny rabbits and chirping chicks. Though we all know how excited children get about the Easter bunny coming to visit, what happens when this imaginary rabbit isn’t enough?
If you are contemplating buying a chick or a rabbit this Easter please consider the following.
A staggering 80% of rabbits are brought around Easter time, so what might seem like an innocent purchase at the time may not be further along in the year.
Rabbits can live for around 10 to 12 years and can weigh between 1.4kg-7.5kg depending on the breed. Even though they are seen as a child’s pet, rabbits still need a good amount of care and commitment. If you are thinking of buying a rabbit for your child this Easter, please think about whether the rabbit will be just as cute to them in ten years time. For such a life expectancy there will also be continual costs (much more than a fairground goldfish).
If you thought that you could buy a rabbit and happily let it roam free in your back garden and toss it the occasional carrot, then you are mistaken. Store bought rabbits are completely different from wild rabbits in terms of their needs. They are domesticated and lack the ability to protect themselves from harm such as from foxes, cats and in some cases large birds as well as being unable to forage for food by themselves.
Rabbits do require a suitable shelter such as a wooden hutch, which you can purchase for around £100 along with the bedding and food needed. They also need have access to the outside, in the form of a rabbit run allowing them to graze in a set area to help maintain a healthy diet and weight.
If you wish to own a rabbit you need to understand the health problems that rabbits can suffer. Their front teeth continually grow and may need to be filed by the vet and their claws need to be clipped frequently to prevent them from tearing. A big problem that rabbits can also suffer is fly strike in the summer months, which is a very unpleasant infestation of maggots around the tail area.
After a chick rather than a rabbit? Chicks may be cute with their blow-dry fluffy coat, but you might think twice as they can have the potential to make you very ill.
Chicks can become infected with salmonella, which can be spread from just cuddling the little creatures. Salmonella, which is a bacterium infection of the gut, can cause severe vomiting, nausea and chills. A high price to pay for such a small creature.
A common problem with buying chicks is that people don’t realise that they can grow to around 7lbs, as well as it being hard to confirm what gender the chick is at such an early age. So what may be a quiet, chirping bird around Easter may end up to be a rather noisy rooster by the end of summer.
Chickens also have a tendency to frequently scratch the ground, so unless you want the whole of your garden weeding, you would need to invest in a chicken coop costing in excess of £100 not including a netting fence.
Just like most animals, chickens can suffer from various health problems such as respiratory and digestive ailments, which can lead to further costs..
When buying a fluffy chick or rabbit you may think that all breeders give the best, most ethical care to their animals, but this is not always the case.
In hatcheries more than a quarter of chicks are disposed of due to a need for hens for egg laying purposes. Those that do survive are often transported in unbearable conditions and can often die in transit from the breeder site to the pet shop. So buying an animal from an unknown background supports poor breeding practices. So please do your research when picking your Easter pet.
Not only do the animals suffer at the site of breeding and transport, but these poor animals may be subjected to unnecessary hair dying which can cause rashes and reactions due to much more sensitive skin than our own.
In some cases when parents no longer want the passed on task of looking after their child’s Easter pet , they may think it is best to set them free into the wild. Although this may seem like the correct thing to do, these pets have become reliant on humans for food and shelter so are unlikely to survive a year.
Don’t be dishearten if this has put you off buying a chick or rabbit this Easter, there are several alternatives available. Various plush toys are stocked in toy stores and supermarkets and do not run the risk of large vet bills. Or whynot pay a visit to an animal sanctuary or shelter, this allows your child to experience the Easter animals in a safe environment without the hassle of caring for the animal for years to come.
So this Easter please think carefully about buying a pet. Much like a dog is not just for Christmas; chicks and rabbits are not just for Easter.