LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — While Pennsylvanians have been busy decorating and hiding Easter eggs this week, Lancaster’s North Museum of Nature and Science has been showcasing a different kind of egg. The museum’s live Chick Cam let viewers in on the process of hatching chicken eggs.
“It’s great to see something up close and really get to interact with a different life in that way,” says Anne Esbenshade, live animal room coordinator at the North Museum.
Over the past week, eight blue Plymouth Rock chickens hatched at the museum. The eggs came from a local farm to which the chicks will return next week, explains David Sadiwnyk, North Museum director of programming and operations.
After an approximately 21-day incubation period, some of the chicks hatched in a couple of hours, while others took more than a day to emerge from their eggs. Visitors can meet them in person over the next few days, or they can check out archived videos of the Chick Cam on the North Museum’s YouTube channel, says Sadiwnyk.
Baby chicks are very cute, but this Easter, experts say it’s best to stick to webcams or candy eggs. “At Easter time, bunnies and chicks are the most sold items,” says Kristin Norris, a veterinary technician at VCA Bridgeport Animal Hospital. However, the majority of these animals won’t survive the year, Norris says.
Chicks require specific diets, vaccinations and living conditions to thrive. They can experience health complications, and, Norris cautions, people often don’t realize that vet care for chickens is expensive since they’re not a common pet.
Additionally, while baby chicks may be adorable, they can’t stay babies forever. Chickens can live for around 3-5 years, says Norris.
“As they grow, they get bigger, they’re messy, they can create dust,” says Esbenshade. Not to mention that roosters can be rather boisterous. It’s great that guests can experience chicks at the North Museum, Esbenshade observes, “because that, I hope, would remove some of the impulse buying.”
Raising chickens has become a popular pastime during COVID-19, and Norris notes that the animals have unique personalities and can become bonded with their human caretakers. Before adopting chickens, though, Norris says individuals should consider:
- Having a secure outdoor area for the chickens to live in, which protects them from land and sky predators
- Dietary needs of the animals
- Presence of nearby veterinary clinics that will care for chickens
- Adopting multiple chickens, since they tend to do better in groups
- How to create an enriching environment for the chickens
- Providing enough space for the chickens so that they don’t become violent
Something else to investigate before getting chickens is the rules of the municipality in which one lives, notes Esbenshade. For example, some locations may have rules limiting the number of chickens a household can own or restricting ownership of roosters.
If individuals are uncertain whether they can commit to caring for an Easter pet, it’s probably best to stick to chocolate eggs this holiday.