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Baby animals are a commitment. Consider alternative options for Easter gifts

two baby chicks in the grass
Chicks are cute, but they grow into chickens that can live for several years

Baby rabbits, chicks, and ducklings are often associated with springtime and Easter. While baby animals are charming, animal experts like Jane Kelly, president of the Utah Veterinary Medical Association and a professor at Utah State University, caution the public against buying them as Easter gifts.

“So that's the biggest thing is, they're very cute, and for about a month or so everybody's really happy about it. But then after, you know, after a while, even if it's a few months, well, then you, you still have an animal that could live for several years. And so, and then we get into the trouble where they're, they're getting abandoned, or they're getting taken to shelters or rescue organizations. So I think the commitment is the biggest thing and having the facilities and the land and the knowledge to take care of them as well,” Kelly said.

Animals need space to move around, said Kelly. Rabbits can live in hutches indoors or outdoors, but chickens and ducks require outdoor space.

“Ducks, in particular, are really messy and they like water. So you know, you'd have to have somewhere where you're, you're not worried about mess and mud and you know, duck feces and all that type of thing. You wouldn't want to try and raise them on a pristine lawn or near a vegetable garden. So it would, in my mind, be difficult to raise them indoors,” Kelly said.

If you don’t have the time or space to take care of an animal, Kelly said, there are other options.

“Good ideas for Easter gifts would be, you know, chocolate bunnies and chicks, or those Marshmallow Peeps, or even things such as a day pass to a zoo, or to the Tracy Aviary, or something along those lines,” Kelly said.

The USU School of Veterinary Medicine advises how to prepare and provide a good home for these baby animals if you opt for the real kind. Their recommendations include good nutrition, regularly cleaning and disinfecting cages, and fresh water daily.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.