an Exotic Pet
The relationship between a pet and it's owner should be a special one.
Unfortunately, this relationship can go terribly wrong if a pet and owner
are mismatched. All too often, exotic pets are acquired on a whim or
while the species is popular as part of a "fad." However,
any pet is more likely to become a cherished family member if a few simple
precautions are taken before deciding on a pet. The key to
choosing the right exotic pet is education.
When selecting an exotic pet, consider the following:
Activity level - for proper health maintenance, some exotics
require lots of exercise and/or are very active, while others will be quieter.
Compatibility with children - some exotics are ill-suited to
live with small children, as they may have sharp claws and teeth
combined with an aggressive or overactive nature. Some may be
inclined to nip if handled roughly or frightened by boisterous
children. Contact with young boisterous children can stress
some of the more timid or delicate species. Consider whether
the exotic could be hazardous to children, or vice versa.
Compatibility with other pets - will the exotic get along with other pets in the home, or
will it be stressed out by other
pets living in close proximity to itself?
Cost - consider your budget. After the initial
outlay, consider the ongoing costs of food, bedding, accessories and
medical care for your exotic.
Destructive tendencies - a curious, active exotic can wreak
a lot of havoc in the home.
Feeding requirements - for some exotic pet species commercially prepared foods are
available but other species may require a variety
of fresh foods prepared daily, or even mice or insects as a staple
in their diets. Be sure to research the feeding requirements
and food supply availability.
Health concerns - consider if there are family members
with vulnerable immune systems (young children, elderly people) as some
exotics can carry diseases that can be
transmitted to humans (e.g. Reptiles
& Salmonella) Also consider the potential for allergies,
especially if you, or a family member, has a history of allergies.
Housing - Consider the size and type of housing that will be
necessary. For exotics that run free in the home, can the
appropriate type of pet proofing be provided? For exotics that need an enclosure, can the appropriate
amount of space be
provided? Some exotics are also messier than others, so try to
find out how often/how thoroughly you will need to clean up after
Legality - find out which kinds of exotic pets
are legal in your area. Laws pertaining to exotic pets range
from local city by-laws to federal regulations. Many
cities/towns and counties have laws regarding the number of pets,
types of pets, and conditions under which certain pets can be kept.
Exotic species are often prone to more restrictive laws and it is the
obligation of the pet owner to be aware of such laws.
Pet sitters - consider who will look
after your exotic if you go away. Some exotics require such
unique care that finding a qualified pet sitter can prove to be a
Potential danger - some exotics can be very aggressive or downright dangerous, and some
can even be potentially deadly.
Social needs - consider the social needs of your exotic.
Some need to have lots of attention, cuddling, and playtime with
their owners, while others are not very social. (e.g. ferrets
and pot bellied pigs need lots of attention, whereas many amphibians
and reptiles are perfectly happy not to be handled at all)
Keep in mind that some exotics are too territorial to be kept in the
same enclosure. Some exotics are happily
independent, but others will be much more content with a companion
of the same species. If multiple exotics will be kept, consider same sex
pairs (often female) if preventing reproduction is a goal.
Size - keep in mind that the larger the exotic the larger
it's home will have to be, and the more space and/or exercise it
Veterinarians - locate a qualified exotic pet veterinarian
to care for your exotic beforehand. Exotic pets usually
require specialized care and knowledge on the part of the
veterinarian. For some of the more unusual exotics, it
may be difficult to find a vet willing to treat it. Veterinary
care is not inexpensive and some species are hardier than
others. If you are just starting out with an exotic pet, try
to pick one that is not prone to medical problems.
The required feeding, housing, cleaning, medical care, and social
interaction all need to be considered, as well as the associated costs.
With the proper education and research, a relationship with your exotic
pet can be a very rewarding one. Do your homework!