It’s easy to tell that Easter is approaching by the amount of advertisements containing cute bunny rabbits and fuzzy little chicks! Often, parents looking for a first pet are inspired by these ideas, and will surprise children with a baby chick or a bunny in an Easter basket. While both species can be very rewarding pets, there is a lot more to them than meets the eye!
Below, Kingsbrook Animal Hospital reveals some facts about rabbit and chicken care.
- Rabbits need to be spayed and neutered, just like dogs and cats. Intact male rabbits often
become aggressive, and over 80% of intact female rabbits will develop invasive and fatal reproductive cancers before 5 years of age. Healthy, well-cared-for rabbits will live for 10-12 years!
- Bunnies require very specific housing conditions. They need solid-floor housing–wire-bottom cages and shelves can cause a condition known as “bumblefoot,” which is a painful infection and swelling of the feet. Rabbits cannot have wood shavings of any kind, and cages should be in a well-ventilated area to minimize the risk of
- There are “good” and “bad” veggies when it comes to rabbits. It is important not to feed sweet or starchy fruits and veggies such as apples, sweet potatoes, or carrots, because they can actually slow down a bunny’s digestive tract and cause life-threatening GI stasis.
Rabbits like romaine, Swiss chard, endive, and red- or green-leaf lettuce. Even more important is a constant supply of fresh timothy hay.
- Baby chicks need to be kept inside until they are fully feathered–this can take around 5 months for some breeds. Chicks need a very temperature-controlled environment
(~95 degrees is ideal) which means a heat lamp is a requirement. Also, chicken feces contain salmonella bacteria, so baby chicks need lots of clean-up to keep the bacterial populations to a minimum.
- Chickens are birds, which means they can fly (to an extent)! This sounds obvious, but it means that either the chickens will need a very tall fence, at least 7 feet, to prevent escape– or they will
require regular wing trims to prevent flight. Keep in mind that if a chicken can’t fly, it can’t escape from a fox or raccoon!
- Many city ordnances and homeowners’ associations (HOAs) prevent owning chickens or any “farm” animals. Be sure to research all laws and by-laws thoroughly!