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Easter Chicks, Ducklings, and Bunnies - Articles Surfing
Easter Chicks, Ducklings, and Rabbits
It is traditional to buy cute little chicks, ducklings, and bunnies as gifts for children around Easter time. Nothing wrong with that ' so long as you keep in mind that these cute baby animals will grow up and live through many more Easter holidays, requiring care ' food, space, and time.
The easy solution, is not to buy a live animal at all, but one of the wonderful plush toys instead. In general, giving a live pet as a gift is a poor idea. If it is for your own child, consider the animals needs as far as care and whether or not you are able and willing to provide for it. If it is for someone else's child, consult with the parents first about whether they would welcome a new addition to the family.
However, if you do have the time, space, love and money to care for a new little member of the family and are willing to take the responsibility of doing so, here are a few care tips to give you a start.
Chicks and Ducklings
Baby chickens and baby ducks have similar needs. For the first few weeks baby birds need almost constant monitoring. For this reason, a slightly older chick is probably a better choice. The caretakers where you purchase your baby bird should know about how old they are.
Warmth ' Baby chicks and ducklings need to be kept warm. Depending on the climate in your location, it will probably be a few weeks before they can be kept outdoors. Baby chicks need to be kept at 95 degrees the first week of their life, 90 the next, and so on, going down 5 degrees per week until they are 4-5 weeks old and fully feathered out. The idea source of heat is a red heat bulb, and you'll want a thermometer in their cage.
Food ' Baby chicks have special needs as far as food, and the same is true for ducklings. No, they don't eat the same food. You will want to make sure you can purchase the proper feed for your pets, either where you purchased the pets, or at a local feed store. The local feed store will have a proper commercial feed for baby chicks and ducklings ' but some do not keep it in stock past Easter. You will want to ask if they keep it in stock, and if not, purchase enough to keep your chicks or ducklings fed until they can switch to an adult feed.
You will also want to purchase a proper chick feeder. They will lose food tossed into their bedding, and tend to soil food in an open bowl as well as waste quite a bit as they peck through it.
Water ' Don't plan on sticking any old bowl in the pen for chicks or ducklings. Baby birds need clean water. Baby birds also have a tendency to soil their water by walking through it, pooping in it, and throwing bedding into it. You will want to purchase a chick waterer from the feed or pet store. It will be built to keep the soiling to a minimum, but for the first four weeks or so you will have to check the waterer several times a day and provide fresh, clean water as often as necessary. When the chicks are a couple of weeks old, they will probably be big enough for you to set the waterer on a flat board or brick in the pen to elevate it from floor level (the water should be at the same level as the backs of the chicks) which will cut down on the mess a bit.
Shelter ' For the first few weeks, a cardboard box with ventilation holes and sides at least 12 inches high will do fine as a home for your chicks or ducklings. A round container, such as a kiddie pool is better, as chicks and ducklings might tend to 'pile' in corners and suffocate the bottom birds. Plan on giving them about 2 foot of space per baby bird. This sounds like a lot when they are 2 days old, but they are going to grow!
You will also need bedding. Wood shavings, such as the type sold packaged for small animal bedding, is the best. Plan on changing it every few days depending on the size of their pen.
When they are about 4 to 5 weeks old and fully feathered, they can move outdoors (weather permitting). They will then need a coop of some sort, and a pen to roam.
Company ' Chickens and Ducks are flock animals. You don't have to buy more than one, but they will be much happier in the long run if you do.
Chicks and ducklings do, however, offer a very special reward for your tender, loving care. Last years Easter chicks will be laying eggs for this Easter's celebration!
Chickens and Ducks live for ten to fifteen years, and the females will lay eggs from about 5 months of age to approximately five years of age. Some will lay for a much longer time, although not as much as in their younger days.
Of course, Easter chicks and ducklings are not divided by sex, which means you will have males ' roosters or drakes ' as well as females. In the case of the male ducks, this isn't much of a problem. But we all know about roosters, don't we? At about the same time the hens start to lay, the roosters will start to crow. If you live in town, this can be an issue with the neighbors ' not to mention the family. Not everyone thinks we ought to jump up out of bed at 3 am ' but your rooster will.
In years past, the dye used to color chicks and ducklings often caused them to sick and die a few days after the holiday. This is no longer true, as a different process is used to dye the chicks and ducklings.
This is only a very basic outline of needs for chicks and ducklings. I strongly suggest you either purchase a book for their care, or at least check one out of the library.
If someone just dropped by your house and presented your child with a chick or duckling for Easter (it happens) ' set them up with a cardboard box bedded with shavings or newspaper, a light for warmth (be aware of fire hazards and be sure it is out of the chicks reach), a bowl with fresh water, and get to the nearest feed or pet store for a waterer, feed and a feeder, a proper heat light bulb, thermometer, bedding, and a book on care.
There is of course, the possibility that you can keep the baby birds for a few months or weeks, and then place them with someone who wants chickens or ducks and has the facilities to care for them. If you want to do this ' that's great ' but I would make sure you have the arrangement made in advance. Depending on where you live, it may not be all that easy to find someone who wants them.
Aren't those baby Easter bunnies just the cutest? Sure they are! But they grow up into rabbits, and may live over ten years. They do not need quite so much intensive care as babies as the birds do, but their needs in the long run may prove more expensive.
And they don't really lay eggs, you know. ;)
Rabbits do make wonderful pets. However, they are not typically good pets for children, especially young children. If you are prepared and want to add a rabbit to your family, there's certainly nothing wrong with deciding to do it just in time for Easter. If someone just dropped by and handed your child an Easter bunny (a live one), you might have a bit of a problem! Yes, it happens.
Fortunately, most pet stores now carry all the things your new pet will need for his or her health and happiness. Basic needs for rabbits are the same as for all pets ' shelter, food, and water.
In the case of a bunny, you will first want to decide if he or she is going to live indoors or outdoors. Domestic rabbits are not as hardy as their wild relatives. A pet rabbit really should live indoors, with or without run of the house. An outbuilding, such as a shed or garage is not ideal ' ventilation and temperature must be considered, as well as whether other animals are able to get into the building. A rabbit can actually die of fear from the presence of a predator animal ' such as the family dog. A caged rabbit will still need at least few hours a day of playtime a day in a larger area.
Indoors or out, you will still need to purchase a cage, or hutch. Even an indoor rabbit should have a cage for their own security and for times when you may need to confine them. A rabbits cage should be at least five times the size of the rabbit. In the case of a baby rabbit, you'll either want to buy a cage based on his adult size, or plan on buying larger cages as she grows. Your rabbit should be able to stretch out and lay down, and their head should not touch the top of the cage when they stand.
Depending on the type of cage you purchase, you will also need bedding. Cages with wire floors are very common ' but also hard on little bunny feet. If you purchase this type of cage, you should layer some cardboard over the wire to make it more comfortable for your bunny.
When you purchase the cage, keep in mind the type of feeder and waterer you plan to use. The best feeders and waterers are those that fit onto the cage in such a way that they remain clean and sanitary. Thus it is probably easiest to purchase the cage, feeder, and waterer at the same time and place. Most pet stores and feed stores will have all of those items available for you.
Your rabbit will also appreciate a place to hide ' or have a little privacy. A simple cardboard box with a door cut into that fits in the cage is fine, or you can buy something fancier if you wish.
Commercial feed, as well as treats, are readily available for rabbits these days. However, these foods should be considered supplemental to hay (timothy hay, or grass hay is better for rabbits than alfalfa), and dark, green leafy vegetables. As with any pet, fresh food and water should be provided daily.
If you are keeping the rabbit indoors and giving them the run of the house, you can train them to use a litter box. You will want to make sure you have 'bunny proofed' the house. Rabbits chew ' a curious nibble of an electrical cord could have terrible consequences.
Rabbits are social animals. Even if you, or your child, spends lots of time keeping bunny company ' they would be happier with another bunny friend. Consider adopting two bunnies rather than one. They will be happier for it.
As with chicks, you will find numerous books and resources on the web concerning rabbit care. This is only a very basic outline. You'll have much to learn!
Although I mentioned that with chicks and ducklings you might consider keeping them only until they are grown if you can make arrangements for a new home for adult chickens or ducks ' this is less of an option with Easter bunnies. If you are purchasing a bunny, please plan on keeping it for it's own life span. If someone just surprised you with a gift bunny, and you cannot or do not want to keep it, you will find many rabbit rescue groups listed online. Many local shelters also have facilities for rabbits.
Pets are really not suitable surprise gifts for anyone at any time. This goes for Easter chicks, Easter ducklings, and Easter bunnies. They are all cute babies, but they grow up and live from ten to fifteen years. They have needs and require suitable care.
I hope you didn't buy one on impulse, but if you did, I hope you will go on now to see that it receives proper care. If someone 'surprised' you (or your child) with an Easter bunny or chick, I hope you will either step up to the responsibility (and perhaps be surprised by how rewarding they are!) or take the proper steps to find them a good home. And if, best of all, you decided months ago to add some chickens, ducks, or rabbits to your family and thought you'd wait until Easter to buy them and take them home, where their cage and hay, or heat lamp and feed are all ready and waiting for them ' yay you, enjoy the new additions to your family!
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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