Dear Chicken Lady, Would you please tell my mom that I am not going to get sick from hugging my chicken. She’s so soft and fluffy and so much fun to catch and hug. Mom says I can let her sit on my lap but to quit hugging her — but if I do that she runs away from me. Besides it’s fun to pretend I’m a chicken and cackle at her and flap my arms except Mom tells me to grow up and go clean the chicken coop. I’m tired of being bossed around all the time. Sincerely, Chicken Hugs Won’t Give Me Bugs
Dear Hugs Give Bugs, It’s true, your chicken is probably way nicer than your mom a lot of the time. If you really were a chicken though you would be henpecked a lot worse by the other chickens than your mom manages to do to you. Listen, you can hug your Mom, you can hug your Dad, but hugging your chickens and brother is not a good idea. Brothers are out cause they usually have cooties, and the chickens, – well chicken hugging is a bad idea, not because you’ll get bugs from her but because she can’t survive a nice big hug even though Sesame Street’s Big Bird can. Big hugs mean your bird can’t breath as a bird’s sternum, or breast bone has to be able to move to pump the air through its lungs.
We breathe by inhaling and exhaling, but birds have a type of circular breathing, with their lungs always inflated. They have air sacs, even in their hollow bones, that the air flows through, keeping fresh oxygenated air flowing all the time through the lungs, making their breathing way more efficient than ours. Kenny G might be able to do that on his sax, a didgeridoo player might be able to do that, but birds are by far the best circular breathers, a trait they share with crocodiles and dinosaurs. The mammal’s motto of “Good air in, bad air out” means old and new air mix as we breath in and out. We would have had a tough time back in the day of the dinosaur when oxygen levels were lower. The birds’ efficiency in breathing means they can do tasks that require a lot of energy and oxygen such as flying. Your chickens may not fly much but they still need to keep that sternum free to move.
Hugs are good for mammals such as all family members, friends, and pets except the avian variety. If you see a large purple, singing, dancing dinosaur on the street who answers to the name of Barney it is probably safe to assume hugs are in order. Same goes for a large yellow awkward looking talking bird but otherwise please refrain from hugging birds, dinosaurs, (especially T-Rex), or crocodiles. What you can do with a bird is play momma bird for them. Let them hide under your arm, your hand, your chin just like they would take shelter under the wing of a momma bird. They will calm right down even if all they can hide is their heads. Baby birds may go right to sleep for you after a few chirps and cheeps.
If you are determined to hug a chicken, there is a deal on Amazon for a rubber chicken that you hug and an egg will pop out. They are reasonably priced and you might even be able to gross out a few friends with it. And by the way, your Mom is kinda right for you can host a few curious bugs from a chicken infested with the crawling creatures. They won’t stay on you very long though as the chicken flavor is much more to their liking. Sincerely, Chicken Lady
Dear Readers – in case you do come across a bird that has been overhugged go to :http://www.wingwise.com/cpr.htm for information on doing CPR on birds. This site recommends chest compressions as well as mouth to beak breaths so use great caution when performing this CPR technique. [You should know that the various farm folk at Locust Lane have had some successes with chicken CPR. Contemplate the possibility of needing to do this when you’re thinking of how nice those fresh eggs would be.]