Local animal experts say parents should prepare for long-term commitment before buying Easter pets

TULSA - If a chocolate bunny simply won't cut it for your child's Easter basket and you're leaning toward getting the real thing, local animal experts hope you'll first consider the long-term commitment of owning one of these furry little critters.

Proper care for a real bunny begins with meeting its basic needs.

"Clean bedding. They need to have some hay in their diet. Good, quality hay. Lots of water and you can't just let them sit in the hutch all day. They need to be out, get some exercise," said Dr. Chet Thomas, a veterinarian with City Veterinary Hospital.

Exercise, like for any other pet Dr. Thomas says, is key in providing quality TLC.

"They need to be out and get some exercise. They can get foot ulcers, they can get sores on their back, sores on their undersides. They need to have some TLC," he said.

It's during Easter, and in the time following, that Dr. Thomas says bunnies and other common Easter pets like chicks and ducklings become castaways at local parks and animal shelters.

"The owners and the kids realize there's some work to this and I've got to feed and water them and sometimes clean up some messes that I'm not really maybe in tune for long-term and so the newness wears off."

According to Dan Canfield, a pet adoption specialist with the Humane Society of Tulsa, rabbits are the third most abandoned animal behind cats and dogs.

"Eighty percent of the animals that come in as bunnies are from Easter gifts," Canfield explained.

Adopting those bunnies to new families isn't an easy task. Canfield says it typically takes three to four months to find new homes for the once-cute Easter present.

The domesticated then discarded bunnies, ducklings and chicks don't well in the wild either, according to both Canfield and Dr. Thomas.

"The likelihood for them surviving is really very minimal. You know, these are pets, you know, and they're not able to go back to the wild and fend for themselves," Canfield said.

If you are considering one of these animals as an Easter present, Dr. Thomas advises consulting your veterinarian before jumping into something you might later regret.

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