It’s that time of year again: the flowers are starting to bloom, Easter is just around the corner, and sweet baby animals are being born and hatching. What could be cuter than a fluffy yellow baby chicken? Or a soft, velvety baby bunny? In the spring, many parents consider getting one of these pets for their kids. Bunnies, chicks and ducklings might make great seasonal decorations, but do they make good pets? Probably not, say the experts. Let’s find out why.
We tell our children not to eat raw cookie dough and cake batter for a reason: the potential for salmonella in the uncooked eggs. Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of chickens, including fluffy baby chickens. Since kids are likely to play with their feathery friends, then put their fingers in their mouths, they may be putting themselves at risk for developing this nasty intestinal malady, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This could be particularly risky for kids with health problems, children under the age of two, pregnant moms and anyone elderly whom your infected child comes into contact with. If you do decide to present your child with a chick, stress the importance of good hygiene, and watch your kids like a hawk to make sure they’re complying.
Special Care Needed
Remember that baby chickens, ducklings and bunnies will quickly turn into full-grown chickens, ducks and rabbits. Adult fowl tend to be stinky, messy and dirty. If you do not have an appropriate place for them outdoors (because you won’t want to keep them indoors!), they are at risk from being attacked and killed by local wildlife, as well as loose dogs and cats. When you have a farm pet, which chickens and ducks fall under, you can’t just run them to the same veterinary office where you take your dog or cat. You’ll need to seek out the services of a veterinarian specializing in farm animals, in most cases. Rabbits are also not the easiest of pets to care for. If you do not have your bunny neutered, he or she may spray the house with urine or feces, and a rabbit of any age can be very destructive. Any of these animals may live for a decade or longer, so you should keep that in mind, as well.
With all of that said, if you live in an area that allows ducks or chickens to be kept as pets, or if you decide to buy a rabbit after all, look into what you need to do in order to properly care for the pet into adulthood. A rabbit should live indoors, unless you live in a very mild climate. Adult ducks need a body of water to splash around in, and ducks and chickens require large cages to keep other animals out, particularly at night. Make sure you know of a good veterinarian who can care for your animal if it gets sick.
For most of us, though, a stuffed fluffy animal will make the best Easter “pet.” These never outgrow their cuddliness; don’t carry diseases; won’t bite, scratch or peck; and will live a long and happy life, without the services of an expensive veterinarian.
Have you gifted your kids with a chick, duckling or baby bunny? Tell us about your experience!