5 Unusual Pet Questions, Answered!

Are chickens safe in my backyard? How big should my fish bowl be? Country Living's resident vet, Dr. Robert Sharp, answers the most pressing questions about birds, fish, bunnies, and more.

Plus: 70 More Pet Questions, Answered! »

Q: I'd like to start tending chickens in my backyard. Do I buy baby chicks or a hen?

A:
First, make sure owning live poultry isn't prohibited in your area. Then, purchase day-old chicks from a feedstore or an online source, such as mypetchicken.com, which offers chicks for about $3 each. Assuming it's eggs you're after, you'll only need to buy female birds.

Plus: How to Build a Chicken Coup »

Q: I've heard bunnies can be trained to use a litter box. Is that really true?



A:
You can't really train a rabbit to do it, but some will take to it naturally. One couple I know confined their bunny to a bathroom before heading out, and then returned to find (surprise!) that Flopsy had used their cat's litter box without any prodding. It's worth a try to see what happens, but don't expect 100 percent accuracy.



Q
: Which species of fish can live in a small bowl?


A:
A good rule of thumb is that one inch of fish requires at least one gallon of water. White cloud mountain fish, zebra danios, bettas, and little tetras and goldfish are good choices if you don't have a lot of space.



Q: Do lovebirds make good apartment pets?


A:
In short, yes. They are compact, low-maintenance birds that also have the personality and smarts of a parrot. They thrive on companionship, so if you work long hours, consider adopting two. But keep in mind, lovebirds typically live 15 to 20 years, so be certain you're ready for that commitment.



Q: Do ferrets get along with cats and dogs?



A:
Anytime one animal first meets another, there's potential for problems - especially when the pets in question are of different species. Dogs who chase squirrels will likely attack a ferret. If your family dog and cat have gentle dispositions, then a period of supervised introduction may be safe. This interim get-to-know-each-other phase could, however, take days - even weeks - and you still run the risk of future altercations.


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