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Feeling the heat
Bunnies and chicks for Easter: buyer beware
With Easter approaching, many pet stores stock up on hot items including live chicks and rabbits, which are often purchased and given to young children as presents. There is no doubt, young chicks and bunnies are impossibly cute, but the fact is they grow into adult rabbits and chickens who have housing, feeding and handling requirements that many people do not know about.
Many folks think rabbits are low maintenance pets that only require a small cage and some lettuce. The truth is, they have dietary requirements that include a balanced diet of pellets, fresh lettuce and other vegetables, and grass hays. They also require daily exercise and space enough to perform three consecutive hops in a cage.
Young children tend to be rougher and not understand that rabbits can easily break their backs when handled. In addition, rabbits have long toenails that leave deep scratches, especially if handled improperly.
Chicks grow into chickens, which require care. When roosters hit sexual maturity, they have the potential to become aggressive. Chickens, and all wild birds, can carry the potentially deadly Salmonella and E.coli that can cause serious diarrhea and possibly death to young children.
After Easter, many shelters are overwhelmed by the number of relinquished rabbits and many are euthanized. In fact, rabbits are the third most relinquished pets to animal shelters. A serious misconception is that rabbits can be released into the wild to fend for themselves. The fact is they often starve to death or become easy prey for predators in the wild.
So before purchasing that cute bunny or baby chick, you must commit to properly caring for them for many years. If you can’t provide the necessary care, just say no to live bunnies and chicks, and stick to chocolate bunnies and peeps. They are easy to care for and don’t stay around long.
The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), founded in 1898, is a professional organization of 340 veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine. For more information, visit www.vtvets.org or call (802) 878-6888.