The term exotic pets refer to pets that are considered rare or unusual animals, or ones that are not commonly thought of as pets. The term also covers species kept as pets that are not indigenous to the area where the owner lives. Some people use the term to describe any pets other than dogs, cats, fish and horses, although nowadays guinea pigs, rats and many reptiles are commonly kept as pets.
Before buying an exotic, you should take into account some of the issues that will arise.
- Is there a vet that is both willing and able to treat your pet nearby? It is likely that your vet’s bill will be larger than for a regular pet because of the amount of specialist knowledge needed.
- What is the lifespan of your chosen pet? Many exotics have very long lives and can easily outlive their owners, so you need to take this into account. You also need to consider your long-terms plans? Do you plan to move, have children or change your lifestyle? These could effect whether you should have an exotic pet.
- Similarly, you need to make sure that you have someone that can pet sit if needed. Even if you don’t go on holiday, consider what would happen to your pet if you were taken ill.
- Have you taken into account the size that your pet will grow to? Shops and breeders will usually be selling youngsters, so be sure of how big this cute little creature may grow.
- Are you legally allowed to own your chosen species and do you need to tell the relevant authorities? Do not rely on word-of-mouth as to whether there are any regulations, check for yourself otherwise your pet could be seized.
- Do you know the best place to buy your exotic pet? Is it a shop, rescue centre or breeder? Use a reputable and knowledgeable seller.
- Are you aware that some exotic pets carry diseases? It is often best not to keep exotics if you have young children or elderly people living with you.
- Some types of exotic pet can be destructive and they may also not mix with any other pets that you may already have. Like any pet, some species are happier when living with others of the same species for companionship, so find out if you will need to keep a pair of more.
- Do you have the time to source and prepare food for their special diet?
- Are you able to meet the costs of the housing, food and vet care for your pet? It can be considerable.
- Always remember that exotic pets are not domesticated species. This means they can be aggressive, dangerous or toxic.
Most dedicated exotic owners and breeders believe that too many people take on such pets without doing their homework properly. Sadly, this often leads to pain and suffering for the animal involved and a great many headaches for the good people that are left trying to rehome the unwanted pets.
The three golden rules of exotic pet owning are: read as much as you can about the species you have chosen and make sure there is a large amount of information available, check that there is a willing vet with specialist knowledge within a reasonable distance and finally, befriend other owners of the same species (even if it’s over the internet) so that you can give each other advice, support and help with looking after your respective pets.
Taking on an exotic is something you will never regret as long as you have done your homework first. The rewards are indescribable and can be wonderfully mutually beneficial.