The Easter season is a joyful time for many families – new outfits, Easter baskets full of goodies, visits from the Easter Bunny, and Easter egg hunts. It is often seen as the beginning of spring. With spring comes new beginnings, and sometimes new beginnings mean adding a new pet to the family. Bunnies, baby chicks, and baby ducklings are frequently readily available during this time, and are often given as gifts to children during the Easter season. Or course babies are adorable and cuddly, however they are also fragile and often not appropriate pets, especially for young children who may be unintentionally rough when handling these tiny babies. These cute fluffy babies will grow into adult rabbits, ducks, and chickens.
Rabbits are generally friendly and quiet pets. They also have fairly specific handling and nutrition needs, and sometimes require more maintenance than novice rabbit parents are prepared for. We recommend researching any pet thoroughly prior to purchasing one, to educate oneself about nutritional, housing, and exercise requirements. Rabbits can be litter box trained and can often be socialized with other pets such as dogs and cats, although supervision is always recommended when they are interacting with other pets and young children. Rabbits are excellent jumpers and have very strong back legs – in the course of struggling against restraint they can kick out hard enough to injure themselves and in some cases even damage their spines and cause paralysis. Bunnies have an average life span of up to 6- 9 years depending on breed and size, so adopting one is a multi-year commitment.
Chicks and ducklings, while adorable, will eventually grow up to be adult chickens or ducks. While they can be suitable pets for some, they also require specialized nutrition and housing. Ducks also need access to a fresh water source, either a pond or pool. Fresh water must provided at least daily if using a pool. Both enjoy hunting for insects in the yard, so they need someplace outdoors where they can forage safely. They can also be preyed upon by raccoons, outdoor cats, and other predatory species, such as coyotes, and even birds of prey. Ducks with access to a freshwater pond can suffer severe injuries to their feet from a snapping turtle bite, which can lead to infection and inability to swim normally.
Here at the Ark we see all types of pets, and we love the fact that many of our pet parents choose to walk off the beaten path and open their homes to non-traditional pets. We always recommend researching any pet prior to adopting or purchasing. Education is the key to a happy relationship with our furry, feathered, or scaly friends.
-Beth Eubanks, DVM