Why Easter is NOT a Reason to Give Live Animal’s as a Gift

Easter is a fun time of year for young ones, with colored eggs, chocolate treats and a visit from a certain over sized rabbit. The Easter season is great for humans, but for the live animals now associated with the season, it’s no Egg Roll on the White House lawn. Easter animals are often forgotten after their moment to shine is over.

What if I were to tell you that 80% of all animals purchased as seasonal gifts around Easter (Rabbit’s, baby chicks and ducklings) are abandoned at shelters or dead within their first year? Knee-jerk, unplanned and spontaneous gifts of live animals are often not completely thought out as a long term investment and obligation to a LIVING creature. What started as a great idea for a family photo shoot add on, or a cute gift for a small child to accentuate Easter fun, is still there when the candy is gone and the eggs are eaten. The gift doesn’t necessarily “keep on giving: if you’re not emotionally or financially  ready to accept that burden.

These animals grow quickly and become the adult version of the cute purchase you made. There is maintenance involved, cages and food to purchase, costly vet visits. Let’s face it, kids can bore with animals pretty quickly, so the burden is shifted to parents. All this investment for ONE DAY of photos and fun, is it worth it?

Not all live animals given as Easter gifts are “throw away” purchases. Some people do their due diligence and assure they are just as ready for Bunny Foo-Foo as they are for a dog or cat addition to the family. But, if you’re buying an animal with the thought that you’ll just ditch it after Easter fun is done… shame on you. These are LIVING creatures who need care and love, just like your human babies. Would you abandon your child if they were no longer needed as an entertainment centerpiece?

Go back to our “80% of all animals purchased at Easter are abandon or dead within the first year” statistic. Let’s make that number even more real, shall we? As of 2022, there were over 131 MILLION “households” in the United States. This number is measured as a dwelling with more than one person occupying that physical address. Think about the number of live animals that arrive in homes if just ½ of a percent of these 131 million homes were to decide that a bunny, or chick or duckling were a fun addition at Easter… that’s over 655,000 animals pushed into homes. If the 80% are gone within the first year, that means 524,000 animals don’t see their first birthday. YIKES! Can you imagine the outrage if we lost 524,000 human babies a year because they were a last minute gift idea

That 80% number is a pie-in-the-sky estimate, it could be MUCH larger… yes, we said LARGER. The SPCA can only track and consider animals that are purchased from licensed and registered breeders, or businesses that resell animals. What they can’t see or count is the untold number of backyard breeders or small time operators that sell out of the back of a truck or from their home. What we DO know is that rescues and animal shelters see the abandonment rate of rabbits jump to 100 times the normal rate in the weeks following Easter. The only real casualty of the last minute decision is the poorly treated animal that has no say in the matter. Again, SHAME ON US.

Let’s Get some Freddie Facts on our fur and feather friends…

Some GREAT things about Bunnies
  • A great alternative to a dog if you don’t have the time or desire to socialize your pet (rabbit’s don’t need daily long walks)

  • People, in general, have less allergic reactions to rabbit’s than cats or dogs

  • Better pets for apartments or cramped quarters

  • They can be box trained like a cat

  • They are quirky, funny and like to play

  • They get on a great sleep schedule (dark to dawn sleepers in most cases)

  • One of the smartest animal breeds, more intelligent than dogs or cats

  • Eating healthy is kind of their thing (veggies are their diet, so they are easier to feed)

Some ‘not so” GREAT things about Bunnies
  • They like to CHEW everything! Their teeth grow like human fingernails, so they chew to keep them trimmed and in good shape

  • They smell… you have to change their cage lining or boxes often

  • They bite and can do some damage with their teeth

  • They don’t want to live life in a cage, they need some room to explore and roam (the average rabbit enclosure is about 24 feet)

  • They want and need attention (they are not catlike)

  • Vet visits are costly

  • Shedding is constant, so be ready to clean up hair and have it on your clothing

  • They are not rough and tough, Rabbit’s have a fragile bone structure. You can’t rough house with a rabbit like you could with a dog

In the end, rabbit’s require attention and maintenance. They are NOT “Set it and Forget it” pets. Also, if  the plan is to release your bunny into the wild after Easter to live with it’s own kind… you’ve likely executed a death sentence to the animal. Domestic rabbits are completely different than their wild counterparts. They do not have the skills or smarts to live in the wild.

Some GREAT Things about Chickens
  • When they grow, you can likely get a nice supply of eggs

  • Chickens have individual personalities, they can be characters

  • Poop a plenty which is good fertilizer for your garden or flower bed

  • They like bugs, so they help in insect control

  • A feathered garbage disposal, chicken like to eat your leftovers (including meat)

  • Most like affection and to be held or petted

  • They are fairly inexpensive to keep and raise. After your initial investment they are pretty cheap pets

Some “not so” GREAT things about Chickens
  • They are not dogs or cats, so don’t treat them as such

  • Chickens can have an attitude and are moody

  • Poop a plenty, like most birds. They are also FREE RANGE POOPERS, and go fairly often

  • They need space to roam, so be sure you have enough room to raise chickens before you invest

  • They are not an indoor animal, so don’t try to raise a chicken IN your home

Note that we specifically labeled the pros/cons as CHICKEN and not Chick. Baby chicks grown up, quickly. What is a yellow ball of fuzz will turn into a full blown chicken in a short amount of time. If you buy a chick, keep in mind you’re buying a fragile baby. Human children, especially smaller ones, don’t realize the damage they can do by over-petting or rough housing with a chick.

Some GREAT Things about Ducks
  • Ducks are high on the list of good backyard pets, they kinda do their own thing

  • Super social creatures, you can add a duck and the flock will likely welcome them with open wings

  • Like chickens, ducks are a built in pest control system. They kill bugs DEAD

  • Sturdy and adaptable in hot or cold weather

  • Water off a ducks back can come in the form of a kiddie pool, if you don’t have a pond

  • Smarter than chickens, they will learn habits and routines

Some “not so” GREAT things about Ducks
  • Social yes, like to be held… not really. You can rub bellies and pet a duck but they are not liable to enjoy being carried around like a cat or dog

  • Volume poopers. Duck droppings are pretty gross and they do like to walk and go

  • Can be pushy when feeding is involved. A flock of ducks could surround you and become vocal and aggressive in a food competition

  • They crave and need companions, so you likely won’t want to be a single duck household

  • Not designed as indoor pets, you’ll need backyard space and a body of water they can play in

Ducks, like chickens, grow up. So be sure you are bringing home a duckling with the thought of their adult self in the back of your mind. If you domesticate a duck and get them used to feeling and care, the transition back to the wild is difficult. Be sure you’ve considered the long term investment in time having multiple ducks will require.

As a society, we need to separate the idea that all rabbit’s are the Easter Bunny, chicks are not “Peeps”, and ducklings are not Donald/Daffy or Huey/Dewey and Louie. Live animals are not candy, chocolate or toys and should not be treated as a prop for your Easter pictures. These creatures are not “throw away” decorations, they are living things and should be treated with love and respect.

If you want all the fun of chicks, ducklings and bunnies at your Easter gathering, but don’t want the long term responsibility of caring for the animal… check online for companies that will come to you with these animals for a fee. Yep, you can rent the Easter glitz without the other 364 day commitment. These are not starter pets, like a kitten or puppy.

Don’t add to the shelter numbers or set an animal free that has little to no chance for survival. Be leery of those who post ads to take your rabbit to “a good home”, often they are used as feed for bigger animals. Think about the cost, the time, the investment that purchasing that living thing will involve after Easter is a thing of your past. 80% of all Easter animal purchases end up being abandoned or die within the first year of their purchase. We can do better… we NEED to do better.

That is it today from Freddie’s Sez. We hope this has been informative, interesting and eye opening. If you know someone who is considering the purchase of an “Easter Surprise” animal gift, help them to see the long term impact to their family AND the animal.

We hope Easter is happy, fun and enjoyable for all of you. Color eggs, eat plenty of chocolate and stuff yourself with a good Easter meal. Have safe travels, excellent family time and all the joy you can fit into one day… #FreddieSez