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Experts urge restraint in purchasing an Easter pet

Looking for that perfect Facebook selfie this Easter with your children and a cute little bunny rabbit?

The animal experts recommend you look to a friend with a farm or someone with a petting zoo instead of buying a cute little bunny or chick. Because unless you’re prepared for a multiple-year commitment when it becomes a rabbit or have a farm home for when it becomes a chicken, you might have some problems.

Jenn Petermann, executive director of the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, said the animal shelter takes in about eight to 10 rabbits a year that are a likely post-Easter regret, and that’s not counting those that get other homes with friends, in a teacher’s classroom or die from various causes.

“First of all, it usually is an impulse because it is a holiday that centers around chicks and bunnies and that sort of thing,” Petermann said. “People don’t give a lot of forethought into what they will do for the next month or two after. They do require quite a bit of care. They aren’t easy pets.”

Petermann said if you do want to get either for Easter, look down the road.

“Frequently with chicks when they become chickens the adopters are looking for a farm for the chickens to go to,” she said. “With the bunnies, I would say that more people do hold on to the bunny rabbits, but a lot of times they do get bigger than the cage you bought so you have to upgrade cages. You can try to build a hutch outside, but those tend to be complicated and other animals can get to them, which people don’t frequently think about. They’re basically sitting ducks.”

Petermann said rabbits need their cage and bedding changed every other day, and fresh food and water daily.

“Do your research, make sure that you have enough space for it,” she said. “With a bunny rabbit, be sure that you’re in it for the long haul. They can live several years and they need constant upkeep.”

Constant upkeep

Dr. Whitney Rayner with Crossroads Animal Hospital in Oxford said it’s a constant upkeep because both rabbits and chicks can live for up to 10 years and there’s a lot of opportunity for problems, even with a domesticated rabbit.

“Buying children bunnies or baby chicks for Easter, as tempting as it may be, is not a good idea,” she said. “These pets are often not wanted after the new wears off. Also, young children can injure them unintentionally. For example, rabbits, if picked up or handled wrong, can sustain life-threatening back injuries. Instead of buying these animals, maybe a visit to the local feed store or petting zoo just to visit is a better idea.”

Petermann echoed the idea to visit somewhere instead of making a purchase.

“I usually tell people if they really want to get to be around chicks and bunnies, there are usually people around town that have small farms and petting farms and they can go and let their kids experience the animals, enjoy them, be hands-on with them and then at the end of the day, they stay with the person who is experienced with that animal,” she said.