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Easter Animals

Martha Stewart Living Television

Chicks, ducklings, and rabbits have long symbolized Easter and the arrival of spring. But according to pet expert Marc Morrone, you should carefully consider the care these animals require before deciding to bring one into your home.

My family lives on a large piece of property with a pond. For Easter, I thought it would be nice to buy some chicks and ducklings for my children. Are they easy pets to care for?

Chicks and ducklings are fragile animals that require special care when they're young. At that age, they can't maintain their own body temperatures and must be kept under a brooder lamp that will keep the air heated to 95 degrees. They also need constant cleaning and require a special mash as food. You will need to show the young birds their food several times a day so that they'll eventually learn how to find it. It's also important to make sure they stay dry; if they fall in their water dishes and get a chill, it's possible for them to grow very ill.

My daughter keeps asking me to get her chicks and ducklings for Easter. We have a lot of room for them, but I know they don't stay little forever. Is it wise to keep them when they are grown, or is it better for them to go to a farm?

There really aren't any farms where ducks and chickens can be taken once they mature, so unless you've done the research into what you'll need to keep these animals healthy and happy for their entire lives, it's best not to buy them. Some people take their ducks to local ponds and walk away with the assumption that the ducks will begin leading lives like their wild counterparts, but it's important to remember that domestic ducks can't fly, and when winter comes, they will often freeze. Even if you live in a more temperate zone that doesn't suffer harsh winters, it is still wrong to turn ducks loose, since their copious droppings pollute the ground water and they will interbreed with wild ducks.

I have always wanted a pet, but right now I'm too busy to care for a young puppy. With Easter just around the corner, I thought I might buy a rabbit. Are they good pets?

Rabbits make great pets, but they require a lot more work than most people expect. Unfortunately, there are many rabbits sold during the Easter season that are subsequently dumped and abandoned after the owners realize the work that goes in to raising them. But if you are prepared to care for a rabbit, the best way is to begin is by adopting one from an organization like the House Rabbit Society. They have numerous volunteers all over the country who rescue abandoned rabbits and find them good homes.

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