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Exotic Pet Care Goes Upscale

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I know how important it is for you and your pets to have matching clothing. Marshall Products now offers a full line of ferret bow ties, matching sweaters and hats. And there's no need to burrow in a hole when it rains, thanks to Marshall's ferret raincoats.

"The ferret business is huge," said Tom Willard of Performance Foods, a leading supplier of ferret food. Performance has special blends for newborns and low-cal meals for older, overweight ferrets — who might have the right girth for a miniature Santa suit, just perfect for a festive polecat.

6. Luxury Hen Spas

If you're ever hoping to take home one of those chic city chicks, you'll need a deluxe Henspa — the latest in egg-stravagant chicken farming. These high-tech $1,500 chicken coops are making a comeback with homeowners who want feathered friends — and fresh eggs.

"Martha Stewart is a big advocate of keeping a hen house in your home, and you'll find that there are historical roots to this that go back to European royalty," says Steven Keel of Eggonic Industries, the manufacturer of Henspas.

Even if you've got a small home, you probably have enough space for a few hens, says Keel, who recently sold an elaborate coop to a Boston-area homeowner living near Harvard Square.

Local ordinances are the biggest obstacle to the hen-hosting craze taking flight. But Keel says cities like St. Louis and Seattle let residents raise chickens.

With a Hen Spa, urban and suburban chicks live in the lap of luxury, with heated water bottles, automatic feeders and enclosed, varmint-proof exercise areas. Unlike chicken farmers of yesteryear, you can leave this high-tech coop for five days and the tenants won't have a flap.

You'll return home to see your lovely birds pecking around in your backyard, gobbling up worms and other pests while helping to prepare tomorrow's breakfast. Just think of them as members of the family who put food on the table and don't mind working for chicken feed.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.