It may be best to think twice before purchasing bunnies, ducklings, and chicks for children this spring. What may seem like a fun pet or Easter-themed present at the time may end up being an investment for over a decade. If you do intent to pick up a springtime companion for your child, it’s best to make sure all parties involved are well educated on proper care.
“Most people don’t realize the amount of care and attention rabbits really require,” said local rabbit handler Susan Murphy. “They need vetting, cleaning, and routine check ups just like a cat or dog. They’re a long-term commitment and deserve to be treated as such.”
Due to their cute appearance and soft demeanors, rabbits are generally thought of as easy, fun pets for children to own. Unfortunately for rabbits, this is not the case. Rabbits prefer to be petted than held, and improperly handling one may lead to bites and scratches to a child or physical harm to the rabbit. According to the ASPCA, rabbits are the third most commonly euthanized animals at shelters, only behind cats and dogs.
In addition, rabbits need plenty of exercise and enrichment to be happy and healthy. They need either very large enclosures or to spend hours out of their hutch to be able to hop, stretch, and run around.
“They need exercise to live long, happy, healthy lives,” stated Susan. “They frequently live to be over ten years old. I had a rabbit who passed away late last year at fourteen years old. That’s older than many dogs are expected to reach!”
For the right owner, however, rabbits make wonderful pets. Few people know that rabbits can be litterbox trained, and that they’re sociable creatures who enjoying having friends (as long as male rabbits are neutered). They can be quite gentle when treated properly and earning a rabbit’s trust can lead to countless hours of playtime and entertainment for both you and your furry friend.
As for ducks, chicks, quail, and other forms of fowl, it is important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Thankfully, few purchase barnyard birds without knowing what owning a chicken or duck entails. Raising chickens and ducks means building a coop, providing food and water, and providing proper vetting.
“Chickens, ducks, and other birds require a lot of care and dedication, just like rabbits” explained Susan. “Many falsely believe you can just put a ‘farm animal’ outside and that they’ll care for themselves. This isn’t the case, though, and they require patience and dedication many don’t expect.”
In addition, it is important to check out local ordinances regarding fowl and livestock. Ordinances vary from county to county and town to town. Many private communities also have their own rules and regulations on what kind of animals are allowed, so it is crucial to make sure you are not committing to an animal that is illegal to keep at your home. It is not uncommon for chickens, ducks, geese, and other livestock to violate a rule, be reported by a neighbor, and end up removed by animal control.
All pets, large and small, require special attention, love, and a level of dedication. When handled and cared for properly, however, all pets can provide their owner with laughs and love for years to come.