Everything Animals: Chicks, bunnies aren't for Easter
Tractor Supply Co. employees spend up to four hours a day caring for the baby chicks.
Chicks for sale at Tractor Supply Co. Vermont law prohibits anyone to sell fewer than six chicks at a time.
Rabbits can be wonderful pets but require much more work than most people expect. Click the links in the story for more information.
Shelburne, Vermont - April 5, 2011
Chicks and bunnies. They're cute, they're fluffy, they're symbols of spring, and it seems they're in stores just in time for Easter. But places that sell them, like Tractor Supply Co., say that's just a coincidence.
"They're here from March to May because that's the typical breeding season for chickens," says Shelburne store manager Donavan Konkler, and he says chicks have no place in an Easter celebration.
"They grow up very fast. About the second or third week they start to feather, the overall look changes, they become more of an adult bird," he says.
If you're looking to buy just one chick you won't be able to in Vermont, nor is it recommended since chickens are flock animals. Vermont state law requires that people buy a minimum of six chicks at a time. That law is in place to discourage people from buying them for the purpose of being pets or gifts. It's also illegal to dye chicks in Vermont, so keep your Easter dye for eggs only.
Chickens are livestock, meant to produce eggs or provide meat, and rabbits, which can be agricultural animals, are also high-energy pets whose destructive tendencies and discomfort with being held often catch new owners by surprise.
"Nationwide, rabbits and bunnies are become the third largest category of animals residing in shelters behind dogs and cats," says Chuck Pizer of the Humane Society of Chittenden County.
Humane societies across Vermont and the country are dealing with a bevy of bunnies.
"We get them generally around this time of year where people are going out buying gifts and end up with a rabbit they weren't anticipating," says Pizer.
To discourage this practice of irresponsible purchase, Tractor Supply Co. says they price their rabbits at $30. Konkler says that's still fair market value but the store believes it's high enough to prevent compulsive gift buyers.
"Gifts are intended to be a surprise and the amount of effort required to care for your animals properly is probably a little bit more of a surprise than what they're looking for," he says.
So if you want these cute critters in your Easter basket, stick to chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps instead.
There are rescue groups that focus specifically on rabbits. One is the House Rabbit Society, another is the House Rabbit Network. Volunteers there point out that stores selling rabbits don't often educate buyers about all the details involved with owning them.