Their cuteness is undeniable. Their fluffy feathers coordinate so well with the theme of your child’s basket. But health experts are warning parents against including baby chicks in Easter baskets.
Instead of focusing on their adorable appearance, shelter officials and health experts want gift-happy parents to picture something else: Poop.
The average domestic duck relieves itself once every 15 minutes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That’s why very few people have ducks for pets – yet millions of people have or will celebrate spring and Easter by getting their children a duckling, figuring they can release it in a pond when it gets too big to keep.
Health officials in many states have made public announcements discouraging the practice of gifting children with baby chicks on Easter, as they are known carriers of the highly dangerous salmonella bacteria. The Center for Disease Control has reported that more than fifteen children have been diagnosed with salmonella over the past four years directly linked with the handling of baby chicks. Children under the age of five are at a greater risk of contracting harmful infections.
Parents often assume they can set a duck free at a local pond once it outgrows its duckling stage, but domestic ducks are not equipped to survive in the wild. They fall prey to many wild animals, dogs and, sadly, even people.
Most major national pet store chains have stopped selling chicks, bunnies or ducklings – all popular Easter gifts – so almost all sales are made online, at feed stores or independent pet stores.
Parents who have children who want a duck for Easter should visit a pet store or zoo instead.
Still set on yellow baby chicks? Stick to the Peep variety.