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Warning: Cuddly Chicks May Someday Crow

April 09, 1998|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Calendar Weekend's Ventura County Edition

Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry. And bunnies too, at least during the spring holiday season.

This is the time of year when cute fuzzy creatures, particularly chicks and bunnies, become the pets of choice for most children in the 5 to 9 age bracket.

Kids, of course, are unaware that an adorable peeping chick will--assuming it survives the vicissitudes of an early life spent squeezed between young hands--become large, loud and gawky-looking. It will develop the chicken equivalent of a goiter, it will squawk and gobble, and it might--if gender issues weren't clear from the start--get the family up quite early each morning.

Another potential problem--at least if you believe my mother, who recited this bit of wisdom each spring as her children eyed the cute critters in the pet store window--is that a full-grown chicken can and would very much like to peck out a child's eyes. In the spirit of fairness, I won't dwell on this last science-fiction factoid.

As for bunnies, we all know about them: They develop a capacity for multiplication that exceeds the rate of governmental penalties on unpaid taxes (another uncomfortable topic for this week).

"I take umbrage with your assertions about chicks and bunnies," said Judith Willis, who wrote this week's Centerpiece story on critters of spring (Page 40). "Since opening our doors and our coop to chicks, fresh eggs now grace our breakfast plates. Our vegetable garden has the best fertilizer. And I now know the meaning of such phrases as 'pecking order' and 'henpecked.' Not to mention, 'getting paid chicken feed.' "

Willis' daughter, Alani, is so happy with her fowl friends that she asked Paul, her dad, to take her to the pet store for more chicks to add to the group.

"But El Nino has all but wiped out the baby chick population," said Willis. "So they headed to the Humane Society to see if there were chicks in need of rescue. There weren't, so they came home with a puppy."

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