BUNNIES, DUCKS AND CHICKS AREN’T THE BEST EASTER GIFTS

Easter’s just a few days away, and many people may be thinking about adding a live bunny, duckling or chick to their children’s Easter baskets.

But these pets don’t make good last-minute gifts, because they take lot more work than you’d expect.

Jonathan Gladney with the Tuscaloosa County Extension Office said most people don’t realize the amount of space and time required to properly care for a small animal.

“They see the cute bunny, or they see the cute little chick,” he said. “So they purchase it and come home and realize, uh-oh, now we have a new pet project that needs to be taken care of.”

It’s important to consider the long-term costs of any animal you’re bringing into your home, Gladney said. It’s not just food and housing; bunnies and birds sometimes need trips to the vet, too.

Rabbits need more room than the average cage at the pet store provides; at a minimum it should be five times as big as the rabbit, according to the Humane Society of the United States. However, if that cage is where your bunny will stay most of the time, it should be far larger.

If your rabbit gets to run around the house (they’re litter-trainable, just like cats), bunny-proofing is a must. They can injure themselves by chewing on electrical wires — and bunnies chew a lot.

Chicks and ducklings grow into chickens and ducks, which means they need a lot of space, too. Chickens need at least 4 square feet per bird, along with a roosting pole and an egg box. Ducks need 4 to 6 square feet per bird, along with plenty of water to keep them happy.

An additional hurdle for potential duck or chicken keepers is many cities don’t allow backyard coops. In Tuscaloosa city limits, keeping any farm animals outside is only legal if they’re fully enclosed with no chance of escape and are kept at least 300 feet from schools, churches, public buildings, parks, playgrounds or another person’s home. Read the law right here.

“Don’t be impulsive and prepare ahead of time,” Gladney said. “So it’ll be a good experience for the animal.”

Rabbits live an average of 6 to 8 years and chickens and ducks average 8 to 10 years — but can live as long as 20 years.

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