Live Easter gifts need care and commitment

Bunnies, chicks grow quickly, have long lives


Many who buy their children live bunnies or chicks as Easter gifts may not know they grow quickly and often live long lives with proper care.

"It's not a three-week commitment. They live a long time," said Kenneth Burgess, who raises both. "In the end, it's not a child's pet. It's a livestock animal."

Bill Estes, who owns Locke Hill Feed, Pet and Lawn Supply, said with Easter nearly here, he has seen some interest in baby chicks, but mostly people are raising backyard flocks that can produce fresh eggs.

But if they want to buy a baby chick as a gift, he advises customers to get more than one.

Estes said since they are shipped as a flock, if they're separated, they may be more noisy, peeping for the others.

"He wants to know where his buddies are," Estes said.

He also advises buyers to consider their neighbors, especially if they wind up with a rooster instead of a hen, and to be aware of ordinances that regulate how many chickens can be raised within the city limits.

Estes said they require plenty of feed and fresh water, but also sanitation is important.

He said changing the litter will cut down on bacteria and odors.

Washing or sanitizing hands after handling is also vital, Estes said, because of salmonella and other germs.

Burgess said when it comes to rabbits, "They aren't really that good for children. They're an adult pet."

He said his rabbits required constant surveillance when they were small.

"You've got to be home and check on them five times a day at least," Burgess said.

He also said they will need veterinary care from time to time.

Burgess said parents will likely end up caring for the live animals they bought on impulse for their children.

Take it from Gilbert Hernandez, who bought an Easter bunny for his kids a couple of weeks ago.

"Now it keeps escaping through the cage. We don't know how to keep it contained," Hernandez said.

He wants others to know when it comes to live rabbits, "You have to be careful because they scratch and you need to keep the nails trimmed and clean the cage every day."

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.