Soft, cute and for the most part easygoing and quiet,
rabbits can make wonderful pets.
But should real rabbits be gifted
as Easter bunnies?
"My first experience with rabbits was when I was
little and two people brought them to my uncle’s farm and he had a hutch that wasn’t being used. They were Easter rabbits that children had for a couple weeks and they were tired of them," Kootenai
Humane Society volunteer Janet Kotyk said Tuesday. "Luckily, they had a place to go, but there isn’t always a place for them to go. It’s not a good idea to get a rabbit for Easter."
Once the novelty of an Easter bunny wears off, those
adorable baby bunnies grow into adult rabbits that require food, attention and care.
"Rabbits are lifetime pets, just like dogs or cats,”
Kotyk said. "It’s a decision you have to make based on what kind of environment you have, whether or not you have the time to care for them, if you have the capacity to provide them a good home and
feed them, and they need exercise. They’re as much of a responsibility as most pets."
Kotyk snugly cradled Bingo, a 5-year-old black
and white lop, as she spoke. Bingo was surrendered to the shelter when her family moved and couldn't keep her. Bingo was only let out of her cage once a week at her previous home.
"When we first got this rabbit, she would hum when I
would l pet her, which I found really interesting,” Kotyk said. “Sometimes they vocalize."
Although KHS doesn't see much of an influx of rabbits
around Easter, its rabbit residents do have a harder time finding homes than other animals.
“Rabbits tend to stay here quite a bit longer than
cats or dogs, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months,” said David Espen, kennel staff member and cat tech. "There’s just not as much request for rabbits. We have more people wanting to surrender
rabbits than we do adopt rabbits."
They can be jumpy and unpredictable, but Kotyk said
each one is different.
"Most people would think a rabbit is a rabbit is a
rabbit, but that’s not the case,” she said. "The more you work with them, the more you realize they each have their own personality, just like a cat or a dog does. But you don’t find that out unless
you interact with them, observe them.
"They are not dissimilar to cats,” Kotyk said. "They
can be litterbox trained. The difference is you have to put a little hay on top of the litter to attract the rabbit into the box."
Chicks and ducklings are also popular Easter gifts.
Coeur d'Alene Country Store assistant manager Kent Poole said when Easter falls during a nice spring, the demand for Easter chicks and ducklings doubles or even triples. People especially enjoy
Araucana and Ameraucana chicks because they grow to lay blue-green, pastel eggs.
"They think it's cute," he said, adding that many
families move into the area and will already have chicken coops on their property, providing the needed shelter to keep the chicks as they grow into full chickens.
"You have to have a place to take care of them," he
said. "You have to keep them warm, 90-95 degrees on the baby chicks, then you drop it 5 degrees every week after that."
Poole said a good age for kids to care for chicks and
ducklings is about 8-10.
"A good age is as soon as they understand how delicate
they are," he said. "If you don't do it right, they won't live, and if you don't keep them clean and cared for they won't lay very well for you. It's almost like people — you get stuck in a bad
environment, you don't do very well."
When it comes to any pet adoption, the bottom line is
Poole said he does recommend children learn to
care for the little birds because "it teaches you how to take care of an animal, feeding, watering, changing the bedding.
"What you get out of them is rewarding," he
Espen recommends that anyone considering adopting a
spring chicken, duckling or bunny should do their research. He said the Animal Care Sheets offered by Petco and found at www.petco.com/caresheet are great sources of information.