Children’s Easter Pets

Growing YearsEvery Easter, children want baby rabbits or baby chicks. Yes or no?  Before you hop down the rabbit trail, or purchase a baby chick, there are a few things you should know.

Two rabbits are cute, but ten rabbits are a nightmare.  So, buy just one, or only rabbits of one sex.  If you want males and females, keep them in separate pens to avoid a breeding nightmare. Where will they live, inside or outside?  If outside of the home, rabbits need a warm hutch, near the house, to live in.  Put the hutch where it will be braced against the wind, and create an enclosed area around the hutch to allow for exercise.  Indoor rabbits need a hutch.  If they are to be an indoor pet, roaming free about the house, constant supervision is necessary.  Regular checkups with a Doctor is necessary, just like a kitten or a puppy.  Rabbits can get hairballs, fleas and bacterial infections.   Rabbits need to be groomed weekly and food and water changed daily. Rabbits have delicate bone structures, if they are dropped or jump from the child’s arms, the shock will break their backs. Use the scruff of the neck, and avoid their spines, when picking them up.

A baby chick needs a warming box. A warming box can be purchased from a feed and seed store. A 250 watt light bulb can be the heat source. Cover the bottom with shredded paper or untreated wood shavings. Use a small thermometer to keep the temperature between ninety and ninety-five degrees. Baby chicks need clean water to be changed every day.  Put the water bowl on a piece of wood, to keep the chicks from jumping into it. Ground oatmeal, baby cereal, or whole grains can be used as chick food. You will need to purchase Grit, made up of small pieces of rock, to help the chicks digest their food. Demonstrate how to pick up and transfer the baby chicks. One hand should be carefully placed under the chick’s belly, and the other one on its head. Watch the tiny feet, as they tickle, and dropping a baby chick could cause serious injury or death.

Caring for these pets will place increased demand on time. Make sure children understand what is involved in pet ownership. If they are committed, then raising a baby chick or rabbit will teach responsibility, compassion, and dedication. But, give an Easter pet if, and only if, you are sure your child can, and will, take lovingly care of the it.

Easter Tip:  Easter baskets can be fun and healthy.  Buy healthy snacks instead of candy.  Low-calorie or low-fat and dried fruit instead of jelly beans. Dried fruit offers nutrition and taste in the same bite-sized portion as jelly beans. Try dried sweet cranberry snacks in different flavors, raisins, yogurt and chocolate covered raisins, and chopped dates. Snack size candy instead of regular size is better. Snack sized morsels are lower in calories then chocolate bunnies or cream eggs. Home made, low-fat “goodies” can be substituted to create delicious treats for the Easter basket. And, you can never have too many toys.  An Easter basket is about a special treat, and the treat can be small chicks and bunnies, stickers, action figures, dolls or other desired toys.

Source: Linda G. Swann, M.S. Early Childhood / SPED