Think twice about giving them to children for Easter
Spring is approaching, and many parents are shopping for Easter gifts for their little ones. Some will shop for baby bunnies and little chicks to give as gifts. There are several responsibilities that come with these animals, as they will grow into adults. Rabbits can live 7 to 10 years, while chickens can live into their teens. The Kent County Health Department encourages adults to consider the longevity, as well as health and safety issues, if giving bunnies or chicks to children for Easter.
“After the Easter holiday is over, the Kent County Animal Shelter receives dozens of unwanted domesticated rabbits and several chickens,” according to Adam London, acting Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Adults need to recognize that adopting or buying these cute little pets typically means a long-term commitment.” Pet rabbits have specific dietary needs and must live indoors. They can learn to be very social pets with routine handling and care.
Raising chicks and other poultry has become popular, but it has also led to an increase in Salmonella outbreaks in humans. Last year, there were eight outbreaks connected to live poultry in the U.S. Salmonella is common in baby poultry, and spreads from contact with the birds or their environments. Birds with Salmonella may appear healthy, but in humans, the bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramping, fever and dehydration. Illness can last for up to a week, and can be serious in young children, older adults or those with weakened immune systems.
“If you handle a chick, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when finished,” London says. “Don’t let children under the age of five handle chicks, or let kids snuggle or kiss chicks.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information:
The Kent County Health Department suggests giving children toy stuffed animals this Easter. Also, if giving or receiving plants for the holiday, make sure they stay out of the reach of any pets. Some items, such as lilies, can be toxic to pets.
For a list, check out: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/Plants.