Happy Easter everyone! I am a week late on this topic, but nonetheless, I feel as though it is important to discuss. Every Easter amongst the egg hunts, piles of candy and family gatherings, some families give colorfully dyed live pets, such as chicks and bunnies, for the Easter festivities. Although most of the dyeing processes used are safe, these pets entertain and amuse the family until the novelty wears off. For this week, I want to spend a few moments discussing the needs of these brightly colored creatures as long-term family companions.
Rabbits can be wonderful, intelligent additions to a family (no matter the color), but they do have requirements to live a happy, healthy life. Rabbits need a diverse and well-balanced diet that includes eating parts of their own fecal material. Think horse. Rabbits eat a lot of grass hay, green vegetables, and plants and a variety of fruits. Basic rabbit pellets from the store, corn, oats, bread or other household basics can be harmful to your bunny and lead to dental issues, severe gastrointestinal disease, obesity and more. Bunnies also need regular exercise and plenty of space to explore (power-cord free zones) just like your average canine companion. Limiting a bunny to a cage can lead to bone density loss, feet problems and major behavioral issues. On the upside, rabbits can be litter box trained like a cat!
Boxes of colorful chicks are also adorable and make for quite the Easter show, but after the dye and novelty wear off they do grow up to be chickens. Chickens require a specific diet, proper zoning in your town and plenty of care, lighting, and protection from predators.
Bringing home a colorful Easter creature may seem like a fun gift for a young animal lover, but please think twice. These pets are living animals that deserve a healthy life with a family that is prepared for their needs.