Pets

35 Facts You Should Know Before Getting an Exotic Pet

Getting any type of pet is a huge responsibility, but animals vary in how well they adapt to domesticated life. Cats and dogs are the most common house pets and they’ve been such for many generations, so these companions have better adapted to domestication than exotic species.

If you are set on getting something more unusual, the first thing you should do is check with your local authorities that it is legal to own your pet of choice.

The second most important thing is to do thorough research into how to take care of an exotic animal as most of them tend to be high-maintenance. This is why shelters are full of exotic pets left there by owners who underestimated how much care an exotic pet needs.

Below are some Exotic Pets we cover:

Fish

  • Invasive exotic fish species thrown in natural water basins are already causing environmental troubles in Florida and Utah. Getting rid of pet fish should happen responsibly by returning them to the store or a relevant organization.
  • Captivity-bred seahorses are healthier and thrive better in aquariums than those caught in the wild which are used to live prey and are more susceptible to disease.
  • Salt-water aquariums are higher-maintenance compared to fresh-water ones, requiring more equipment and stricter upkeep.
  • Even so-called “self-sustainable aquarium ecosystems” will need human input to thrive and survive.
  • Stingrays kept as pets are equally likely to sting when feeling threatened as their living-in-the-wild fellows.

Birds

Reptiles

  • Captive snakes can live for as long as 30 years while the record for the longest living snake in captivity is held by the boa constrictor Popeye who died in the Philadelphia Zoo in 1977 at the age of 40 years.
  • As of the end of February Florida has introduced a ban on owning anacondas and several other exotic animals. Owners who had them before the ban were “grandfathered.”
  • Some snakes, like the African Ball Python and the King Snake, don’t grow much in size making them ideal for smaller homes.
  • While most geckos are nocturnal animals, when taken care of in captivity their regiment might switch to align with their owner’s.
  • Bearded dragon individuals can completely differ in their demeanor. Some are quite active, while others prefer to stay calm and quiet.

Mammals

  • Caring for a fennec fox is like looking after a mix between a dog and a cat. Fennec foxes require regular time outside (on a leash) like a dog but have the social, independent, and attention-seeking character of a cat.
  • Sugar gliders can’t thrive in home conditions—they need freedom and socialization with their peers.
  • Primates and monkeys are high-maintenance animals to keep as pets. They call for lots of time, money, and care in addition to plenty of space and as close to a natural habitat as possible.
  • Raccoons are not appropriate pets for busy owners. They require a lot of attention, though on their own terms, and can get quite destructive if left alone.
  • When confronted with new scent, hedgehogs study its source, lick it and form a spitball that they cover themselves with. Scientists believe that this a defense mechanism which hedgehogs use to keep themselves “camouflaged.”

Insects & Arachnids

  • An import permit from the USDA is needed to import pest insects, such as stick insect, into the US, though such permits are generally only issued to zoos and for research purposes.
  • The most common health issue among hissing cockroaches is dehydration.
  • When feeling threatened, some tarantula species release urticating hairs which can stick to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, causing irritation and an even allergic reaction.
  • Each praying mantis should be kept in a separate enclosure due to their cannibalistic nature.
  • Ants recognize members of their colony by a unique scent, so ants from different colonies will fight even if they belong to the same species.

A lot more than what you read here goes into doing proper research before getting an exotic pet. As you saw from this article, some of the main points to consider are the pet’s temperament, need for space, and cost to obtain and look after.

If you end up getting a pet that you cannot take care of, surrender it to a shelter or contact animal rescue organizations that specialize in exotic pets. Letting an unwanted exotic pet in the wild is not only cruel to the animal but dangerous for other people, pets, and the local ecosystem.

What are your thoughts?