Easter-themed pets can be a huge responsibility

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By Angela Clendenin

From the abundance of chocolate candies lining the grocery store aisles to the colorful dresses hung in the children’s departments at the mall, there are many joyous symbols associated with the Easter holiday.
Two very popular symbols, both irresistibly adorable and covered in fluff, are a chick or bunny on Easter morning. While giving these as gifts may seem like fun ways to celebrate the holiday at the time, it is important to remember that they are still long-term commitments that come with a lot of responsibility.
Are you prepared to take on the challenge of caring for your little Easter fur ball once the holiday passes?
Baby chicks are available for purchase at most any feed supply store for the low price of $1 for 3. Because of their easy availability and low initial cost, chicks are often impulse Easter purchases that people make without taking into consideration their present and future care requirements. As with all other pets, they too will soon outgrow their cute, baby-like phase.
“An impulse pet is always a bad purchase,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It may look cute in the store, but Easter is gone in a day and then you have an animal to take care of long term.”
Stickney also explains that while baby chicks are adorable, full-grown chickens might not make the best pets for inexperienced owners, especially those with children. “It’s hard to interact with a chicken, and roosters can be very aggressive. They also get barbs on their feet that can cause a lot of damage,” said Stickney.
Rabbits, however, can be considered a good “first pet” due to their docile nature and fairly simple care requirements.
“The good news is that you do not have to walk or train a rabbit,” said Stickney. “They will need to get some exercise, though, so you have to let them hop around each day.”
Still, just like with baby chicks, rabbits bring their own set of responsibilities and care requirements that need to be considered before making a purchase. They require a diet consisting mainly of hay and vegetables, a third of their diet to be rabbit feed, and can also tend to be quite messy.
Additionally, just like with any other pet, you should have your rabbit spayed/neutered as soon as possible.
“You really need to get your rabbit spayed or neutered before sexual maturity or they can become aggressive,” advises Stickney. “Check with your veterinarian, because not all of them spay and neuter rabbits. You should also ask them for any flea preventative or other treatments, as over-the-counter products for dogs and cats can be toxic for rabbits.”
If these responsibilities seem attainable for your family, and you’re willing to make the long-term commitment of pet ownership, a rabbit can be a fun Easter companion.
Just remember that while any pet can be a wonderful addition to a family, it is never a good idea to buy a pet on a whim. Be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before bringing one home for your family Easter pictures.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.