Please, before buying that cute, fuzzy, little Easter pet, know what you are getting into. Pets must be purchased responsibly, not impulsively.
First learn what that animal needs to be healthy and happy. What are its characteristics? Can you honestly provide a proper, permanent home?
Rabbits and guinea pigs live five to eight years or more. Both require a large cage and daily attention and affection. These are not easy-care, low-maintenance, low-cost pets.
Not all rabbits and guinea pigs are as cuddly as they look. Many of the animals displayed for pre-Easter sales come from pet-mill-type breeders. Respiratory ailments, diarrhea, and lice or mite infestations are not uncommon.
Are you willing to pay for veterinary care if your pet becomes sick? Animal shelters dread the calls that start soon after Easter: "Will you take this rabbit [or guinea pig]? The kids are bored of it. We don't have time for it. It's not as cute or fun as it used to be. It smells."
Learn before you buy -- and if you are not sure you have the time, money, interest and commitment, don't buy.
VICKI PALMER NIELSEN, STACY, MINN.