What’s cute, cuddly, and tiny for only a few months until it gets bigger and requires more care than you possibly imagined?
No, not your child! Well, maybe, but that’s not the answer.
A chick and a bunny.
“But they are cute when they get older!”
Sure, but not as cute as when you brought one home on Easter Sunday. The chick turns into a, um, chicken, and a tiny bunny turns into a rabbit. Was that adorable look your kid gave you outside of church was really enough for you to add a pet to your home? If so, I need to work on that look when I bring my husband to, well, anywhere. Please tell me that we all understand that Spring bunny cuteness is cute, and that post-Sunday church chicks, while still cute, require more care than most people realize.
Do I think it’s the worst idea to bring home a pet this Spring? No, not at all. Do I think families (especially parents of young children) need to do their due diligence and prepare the home for a pet? Yes, I do. So, what can future chick and bunny parents do prior to bringing home a live Peep?
Purchase All Food/Cages/Litter
What? Bunnies and chicks go to the bathroom? Um, yea! Ever clean a bunny cage? Trust me. What food do I buy? Most pet food stores sell rabbit food, and a local feed store will have chicken feed (and most likely rabbit food). C&J Feed on Aurora is a good resource for chickens. Be ready to set up a space for your new pet, and realize the space a rabbit and chicken need is probably larger than you realize. A baby chick can be kept in a large cardboard box with a wire cage around it (especially if you have cats/dogs/other pets). As the chicken gets older (bigger), you will need a coop which you can keep in your yard. Current regulations on chickens in Melbourne permit them to be in a yard with a 6 foot fence, but it’s recommended to get a coop for protection. Please check your local up-to-date city regulations on backyard chickens. Bunnies can have larger cages with multiple levels. They can also eat kale and other vegetables, but please research feeding or ask a feeding store staff member for info.
Chicks And Bunnies Are NOT Toys
I assume that adults understand to gently hold a chick or bunny. Kids need more guidance when handling these types of smaller pets. PLEASE monitor your child and assist when they are picking up, holding, and putting the chicks or bunnies back in the cages/coops. Chicks are especially delicate, and children (even adults) can mistakenly squeeze that Easter gift too hard. These are LIVE animals, and need to be handled with care. Please remember, even though they are cute, bunnies can bite (and chicks can peck), so handling them too often is also not a great idea. Another tip to teach kids after handling their new pet: WASH YOUR HANDS. Salmonella and other bacteria are common with chicks and bunnies. Always wash your hands after handling them.
Be Honest About The Commitment
Chickens can live to be 16. Bunnies can live to be 9. These are general lifespan figures, but you are looking at about a 10 plus year commitment to raising an animal. Will you and/or your family be living in an area that allows chickens for the next 15 years? Do you have the time to clean a bunny cage when your kid has let it go for weeks? Did I mention there is vet care involved? Families bringing home any type of pet need to lay out a plan of who-does-what-when BEFORE the tiny pet makes its grand entrance.
Other Points To Consider
• Chickens are not meant to be raised alone. Adopting more than one is best.
• Chicks need a brooder (area they are kept, such as a cardboard box) that is at least 90 degrees (you can purchase a light if the chick is kept indoors and not on a patio).
• Adoption is the best option!
• Vet care for chickens may be hard to find and can be expensive.
• Your local city may not allow backyard chickens-please check your local regulations before bringing one home.
• Bunnies are social, friendly (typically), and need attention.
• Be very cautious bringing either of these pets home, especially if you have cats or dogs.
If you do not think you can have a chick or bunny this Spring, be honest with your family. If you have children, you know whether or not they can demonstrate care for a tiny pet. Have them volunteer to scoop bunny cages at the local Humane Society or shelter (age of volunteers might be a factor). Bring them to a local farm and have your children see what that chick looks like in a few months. See if they can feed and/or at least observe feedings. Preparation is key. I know you will make the right decision!
So, who’s prepared, committed, and educated on bringing home (or not bringing home) a live animal this Spring?