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Rabbits and Chicks NOT Ideal Easter Gifts
Animal advocates say think twice before buying pets as Easter gifts
By Patricia Sousa
Baby rabbits and chicks are popular Easter gifts that often find their way into animal shelters and rescue groups when the novelty wears off.
“We end up getting a lot of bunnies after Easter because people think it’s a great idea to get a little Easter bunny for their kids and then they don’t realize the care that’s needed for these animals,” said Erin Conway, volunteer program coordinator of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
Instead of buying a rabbit from a pet store or off the Internet, Conway encourages bunny seekers to adopt from the shelter or Rabbit Haven, which is a local nonprofit dedicated to rescuing, treating, and finding permanent homes for endangered or abandoned rabbits.
“If you go out to a pet store and buy a rabbit, that just promotes irresponsible breeding practices,” she explained.
Currently, the shelter only has six rabbits available for adoption, but is expecting more once Easter is over. The shelter also has 24 chickens that need good homes.
“We have a lot of chickens right now because we get rescues from egg farms and then people who do backyard chickens end up adopting them,” Conway said.
Mike Richie, owner of Scotts Valley Feed, said that the store would not be selling ducks or rabbits for Easter this year.
“We sell primarily the baby chicks and we sell a pretty wide variety of them so we aren’t doing any bunnies or anything like that,” he said. “If people are interested in (rabbits) then we send them down to Rabbit Haven.”
Scotts Valley Feed begins receiving shipments of chicks at the end of February and continues to get them through September.
As of Tuesday, the store only had four or five naked neck or Turken chicks left. The next scheduled shipment is Thursday, April 9, which will include Production Red, Austra White, Black Australorp, Golden Sex Link, and more Turkens.
“We make a special efforts not to do Easter selling of animals just because people that buy them just at Easter maybe haven’t thought it out as completely as they might have,” Richie said.
Conway said many people buy cute little ducks, chicks, and bunnies for Easter, without thinking about the care that they need.
“Think about what you are doing when you acquire an animal, it can be a long-term commitment for daily care, and is that what you want?” she said.
If someone is serious about purchasing or adopting baby chicks for Easter they should be prepared by purchasing the proper equipment, which is available at Scotts Valley Feed.
“What’s really good to do is to stop and take a took at what you're going to need to have to take good care of that animal long-term,” Richie said.
Richie said that chicks are easily kept in a bathtub with a heat lamp on one side and the food on the other, they need to remain at about 100 degrees to survive and a warm room is not good enough.
Once the chicks have their feathers on, the heat lamp can be removed.
A safe outdoor shelter is necessary for hens. Those interested in building one should do some research and consult experienced chicken keepers to come up with the proper hen house. Hens that are not properly and safely enclosed could fall victim to predators like raccoons, coyotes, and mountain lions.
“Don’t get them for Easter, get them because you want them for the long haul,” Richie said.
Press Banner, March 2015