ENCINITAS–Every spring cute baby bunnies and fluffy little chicks are bought to be Easter surprises. But the real surprise comes later when parents find out that rabbits live 8 to 12 years and that baby chicks grow feathers and become adult chickens.
Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) in Encinitas is reminding families that baby bunnies and chicks make really bad Easter gifts in most cases.
“Every year, a few weeks after Easter, we get calls from people who found stray Easter bunnies in their neighborhoods,” says RCHS spokesman John Van Zante. “When the kids lose interest and the parents realize that taking care of a rabbit includes feeding, grooming, and cleaning the enclosure, families let them loose thinking that the rabbits will be fine. These are not wild animals. They’re domesticated pets. They don’t know how to find food. They don’t understand the dangers around them. They’re easy prey for coyotes and other animals. Turning them loose is a death sentence. Most of them do not survive until next Easter.”
Van Zante says a baby chick soon turns into half fluff and half feathers. “It’s not an attractive look when they make the transition. The kids can’t play with it. It eats, pecks, and poops. Then it starts acting like a chicken. If you don’t want an adult chicken, don’t get a baby chick.”
Stuffed animals are a great alternative. They don’t grow. They’re more fun. You can always snuggle with them. You never have to feed them or clean up after them. No Veterinary bills. And stuffed animals have unlimited life expectancy.
Van Zante adds, “For families that are prepared to include rabbits or chickens in their homes, we encourage them to visit an animal shelter or a rabbit rescue group. Let us help you make an informed decision. Having a pet rabbit can be lots of fun. But, as with any pet, the fun is only temporary if you don’t understand the long term responsibility.”
Visit Rancho Coastal Humane Society at 389 Requeza Street in Encinitas, call (760) 753-6413, or visit www.sdpets.org. Adoption kennels are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Tuesday. RCHS will be closed on Easter Sunday.