Noble McIntyre on March 22, 2016
Spring has sprung, as they say, and that means that Easter is upon us. While kids and adults alike love dyeing eggs, participating in egg hunts, Easter baskets filled with goodies and the obligatory chocolate bunny or Peeps, there are some things you should know about some seemingly harmless Easter traditions.
Chicks and bunnies are cute, but there are several reasons why they don’t make good Easter gifts. The first reason is that chicks can pose a major health risk because they often carry salmonella.
Salmonella is a bacteria that results in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Often, the symptoms last from four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. But, in some instances, the diarrhea could be so severe that the patient could require hospitalization. Occasionally, salmonella could spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and cause death if not immediately treated with antibiotics. Young children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are most likely to have a severe illness if exposed to salmonella poisoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that salmonella can be transmitted to humans when they handle chicks, ducklings, goslings and baby turkeys. Even though the animals might look cute and healthy, the germs can be on their feathers, feet or beaks, or even on the surfaces of areas where they live, like cages, feed or water bowls. One way to stay safe is to avoid cuddling, kissing or handling baby chicks — even though they look so sweet and cuddly. If you do handle baby birds, always wash hands immediately, and especially before eating or putting your hands near your face or mouth.
Another reason why giving live animals as Easter gifts is not a good idea is to protect the animals, themselves. While it may seem fun and special to give your child a live chick, bunny or duck for Easter, most animals that are given in these situations end up abandoned, or they die because people are not properly prepared to care for them. Often, the novelty of an Easter pet wears off quickly, and kids (and parents) realize that caring for an animal is more work than they anticipated. They might think they’re doing the “right” thing by taking an unwanted pet to a shelter, but the shelters don’t have the capacity to find homes for the influx of chicks and rabbits that arrive in the weeks following Easter. That means that many of these creatures are euthanized because there simply is no one to care for them. Some families also release these unwanted animals into the wild. Once an animal has been domesticated (provided with food and water and without having to defend against predators), it often loses the survival instinct and cannot survive even in the “safest” environment.
Remember, too, that a chick won’t stay fluffy and little forever. The life span of a chicken is about eight to ten years. Their housing, food and veterinary bills are costly. In some locations, you’re required to have a license to raise chickens, and there could also be zoning restrictions in place. One more thing… it can be hard to determine the sex of a baby chick. That means that you could either end up with a chicken or a rooster on your hands. Roosters can be noisy, so really think about whether you’re interested in having an animal crowing at dawn every morning. If you don’t think you can commit to up to ten years of caring for and feeding a chicken, in addition to giving it space to roam, it’s not a good gift for your child’s Easter basket.
While your children might be tempted to eat a brightly colored Easter egg, it’s not always a good idea. There are several factors to consider in determining whether an egg should be eaten.
It’s always a good idea to keep track of where eggs are hidden, whether in- or outdoors. Any dog or cat that finds an egg a few days too late could get very sick from eating a spoiled egg. And, of course, you want to avoid that rotten egg smell (especially inside)!
From the McIntyre Law family to yours, have a Happy (and safe) Easter! We’re always here to help. Stay safe out there!