CHICAGO - Warning: young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets — or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for that matter — because of risks for disease.
That's according to the nation's leading pediatricians' group in a new report about dangers from exotic animals.
Besides evidence that they can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs, exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw — putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk, the report says.
It goes on to suggest that those families currently with "exotic" pets (anything but a cat or dog, apparently) and young children should consider finding new homes for them. The animals, I mean.
As Steve asks, What about farm kids? I guess we can have them bussed to the inner cities for their own protection.
What about The Last Child In the Woods? Good riddance, I guess.
As I spoke to the 2nd graders yesterday, I made sure to encourage them to pick up broken birds' eggs and blue jay feathers and to bring home lizards if they could catch them. And to try to catch them.
I told them (because they asked), that "How you get a hawk" is to grow up catching lizards and putting found feathers in shoe boxes, and by watching birds and getting dirty and being outdoors.
As they filed out of the classroom, I let them all stroke Ernie on his back and feel the tips of his talons and tell him he's a nice bird. One kid asked me if she had to wash her hands after touching the hawk's feathers.
I said, "No, honey. You're good."