By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
Easter is over, and what once fit in your child’s Easter basket will soon be the size of the basket itself. Everything grows up, just look at your children, younger siblings, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. They used to be tiny. You could carry them with ease in your arms; but now they are grown and it would hurt your back to try to carry them. Well, the same goes for animals.
Arizona Department of Agriculture reminds us of the importance of animal care.
Bunnies, chicks, and ducklings as well as puppies and kittens are purchased every year as Easter gifts. While cute, these animals don’t stay small forever, and they require a lot of care. Once the animals are out of the baby stage, children tend to lose interest in them, and the responsibility to care for them falls on the parents.
Just like puppies and kittens grow into dogs and cats, bunnies, chicks, and ducklings grow into rabbits, chickens, and ducks. Adults need to realize this before purchasing a new member of the family. “Think carefully if you’re considering giving them as a gift, the same way you would if giving a kitten or puppy. It’s a commitment to the animal for its lifetime,” said veterinarian Dr. Susan Gale, with the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
Any pet you adopt is going to cost quite a bit of money over its life span. This is a factor to consider when thinking about adding a pet to your family. There will typically be an adoption fee when you go to get your pet, then food costs for its lifetime, food and water dishes, toys, grooming tools, veterinary checkups, any emergency medical care it might need, a transportation crate, housing, and much, much more.
Remember, rabbits can live eight to 12 years, chickens can live to be eight years old, and the common Mallard duck can live to be 20 years old. As well, dogs live between 10 and 13 years, and cats can live upwards of 15 years.
There can also be health risks to take into consideration before adopting chicks and ducklings. It is fairly common for these animals to carry salmonella in there excrement and feathers. Hand washing before and after handling these animals is a MUST. Something else to recognize is that chicks and chickens don’t do particularly well living as an only pet, as they are used to living in a flock.
“Easter symbolizes a new beginning and baby animals capture that spirit,” said Mark Killian, director of the Department of Agriculture. “Instead of giving a pet without a plan, consider visiting a farm or zoo to see baby animals.”
Pets like rabbits, chickens, and ducks can teach children responsibility and give them an animal companion to cherish for years. These animals are not ones you can just let go or give back once they are grown and you don’t want them anymore. They won’t be able to survive in the wild all alone, and wherever you bought them from typically won’t take them back, so think hard before you decide to adopt, and if you already have, make sure you consult your veterinarian and other experts on your animal for advice on how to give it the best life possible.