Owning an Exotic Pet

It takes a special person to own an exotic pet. Make sure you are ready, not only for your animal’s requirements, but for the negative criticism from the community.

What is an Exotic Pet?

Common pets are cats, dogs, fish, and even horses, in many circles anything other than these four animals might be considered as an exotic pet. On another level, exotics are anything that is rare, or highly unusual, such as a Fennec Fox. What might be considered as an exotic pet in one area (or country) might be considered as a typical pet in another. As such the term exotic can mean different things to different people. Some may even consider a rabbit as an exotic pet, while others might refer to a rat as a common pet.

For our purposes an exotic shall be anything other than a cat, dog, fish, or common livestock. Generally “miniatures” are considered exotics, for example a miniature horse would be an exotic pet.

Photo by Author, this is my llama, Crystal.

Cons to Owning an Exotic Pet

  1. They may not be considered legal in your area.
  2. If your exotic pet is injured or sick, it may be difficult to find a veterinarian that can provide care for it.
  3. Their dietary needs may be more tricky to accommodate, and may be more costly.
  4. Many exotics do not do well if their mental needs are not met (monkeys, parrots), and may become destructive.
  5. Many exotics have very specific needs in terms of temperature, special lighting, and housing. Demands which are not easily met by first time owners.
  6. Depending on what type of exotic animal you want, you may have a hard time finding a reputable seller.
  7. Some require large amounts of space.
  8. Some have extremely long lifespans (parrots) making them a major commitment.
  9. Many exotic pets die within the first two weeks of being acquired, because of lack of knowledge and proper care.

Photo by Author, although I do not own snakes, they are good pets for people with allergies. 

Advantages to Owing an Exotic Pet

  1. Certain exotics, like reptiles and amphibians, are not a problem for people who suffer from allergies.
  2. Diversity – There is an exotic pet which will meet every-ones needs.
  3. Some exotics, (geckos or hedgehogs) have much smaller space requirements than a cat or dog.
  4. Some have shorter lifespans (rats) than cats and dogs making them less of a long term commitment.
  5. They are excellent in cases where people may not be allowed to have a cat or dog, but need a connection to the natural world through other animal life.
  6. Some exotics (reptiles) are not as demanding as a cat or dog. Not needing daily walks or shows of affection.
  7. Some exotics serve other purposes, eg. Llamas as guard animals, Alpacas for fiber, lizards can provide pest control in greenhouses, or chickens to provide eggs.
  8. As an advantage to society good owners can provide knowledge to others about these creatures, beyond this people having exotics and caring for them properly, leads to more tolerance of differences on all levels. If you own a dog and care for it properly and I own a llama and care for it properly and we understand this about each other then we have found common ground.

Important Considerations

Before you get ANY pet, Exotic or otherwise. It is important to learn as much as you can about the animal, its’ needs for food, space and mental requirements. An animal whose needs are not met, will not make a good pet. Not only will it suffer, but it may become aggressive or destructive.

Before getting an exotic make sure you know why you want one, a pet is not a show piece to make you cool, or popular, and should never be used for that purpose.

Reasons for Owning Exotic Pets

In some cases there are problems for survival of a species in the wild, there have been instances where hobbyists have saved species when their habitats were destroyed. This has been incited at least once when the habitat of one species of Dart Frog was destroyed by a natural disaster. Hobbyists often assist Biologists in learning about certain animals.

Negative Criticism over Exotic Pets

There is a lot of negative backlash towards the ownership of exotic animals. This is because there are sensationalized stories, most of which were because owners were not providing care, or the animals were not suited to the owners abilities to provide care or space, thus creating a problem. In fact there are many more bad owners of cats, and dogs, and these pets are just as likely to become problems.

To be fair many people are not suitable owners for exotic pets, and many people are not even suitable owners for cats or dogs.

A good number of people stand against others owning exotics because they think of the Victorian models for zoos, or current backyard menageries based on those models. True, many exotic owners are not doing a good job of it, but this should not be held as a punishment for those who are.

An exotic dancer bringing a tiger to a strip club should not cause an outcry against people owning anoles. It can be that ridiculous.

Photo by Author, well actually by my wife.

Myself

I refer to these animals as “pets” because that is a term everyone understands, but they really are my “friends”, my “family”. I do not put my needs for owning an exotic pet, ahead of their needs. My cats get cat food, my reptiles get reptile food, and if people come over they get people food. Each animal has its’ requirements and I know that if I cannot meet those, then I simply do not get those types of animals.

This planet is dying, thousands of tiny little “Noah’s”, like myself, and hopefully you, are what will keep the ark afloat, until we can get back to Eden.

Other Reading

10 Funky Farm Animals

The Dark Side of Pet Monkeys

Exotic Pet and Animal Blog

Republished to Full of Knowledege

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User Comments
  1. Don

    On March 5, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    some types of animals simply do not get any enjoyment out of being a pet, Tigers for example are often stressed. Some animals are indifferent – frogs etc. probably dont know the difference if looked after. Good artcile Mark

  2. Telisha

    On March 6, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I have 2 ferrets myself, so I’m quite used to having to combat the negative sterotypes people have in their heads. Luckily for me my apartment manager’s stepdaughter had them so she didn’t have preconceived notions. I do agree that some people shouldn’t allowed to have so much as a fish. Pets are a big huge responsiblity, just like children. But now that I think of it I know people with kids who really shouldn’t them. I just make sure to be a responsible pet owner and combat all the negative info and present all the positive stuff I can.

  3. I Have Had Enough

    On December 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I want a snake and a rat; but that really wouldn’t work.

  4. kalli

    On December 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wealth of information, if im ever going to get an exotic pet i’ll try to keep your tips in mind.

  5. stefanp

    On December 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Im not one for pets, i just don’ like animals

  6. Midie

    On December 16, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I like exotic pets but I don’t have enough room for them. Nice picture you have here

  7. Major Bertolli

    On December 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This is very interesting, I myself have never owned something exotic as a pet was a Samoyad. She lived for about 12 years.

    This has acctually told me alot of Pros about having a exotic pet as I have always thought that they always required huge amounts care on a 24 hour basis to keep them alive. But thats apparently not the case. Great Article!

  8. Paul Roberts

    On December 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Each “pet’ deserves a responsible “owner”.as i see here you are. Well done. Friend, fan, smile

  9. catlord

    On January 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I used to have a large green iguana, “Mr. Spock”
    When I lived in New York I raised Australian Bearded Dragon reptiles. These are very neat lizards and somewhat prolific, they produce 3-to-5 clutches of eggs with up to 27 eggs per clutch. Poly-fecund, if they have exposure to more than one male their offspring can be half-siblings (same thing cats and dogs do) and a female ‘beardie’ can copulate with a male but retain the sperm for up to a year before committing to egg-laying… very bizarre lizard these…

  10. Brittney Basye

    On March 17, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Very well writen and a very good guide for new or old pet owners, I love it!

  11. Brenda Nelson

    On March 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    The problems really occur because few people are aware of what exotic pets include. Since technically rabbits and hamsters are exotic pets but people always just think of tigers and wolves… this is a problem in perception and understanding

  12. Belle Dob

    On March 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Seems awfully complicated, owing an exotic pet. Don’t think I’ll bother with one.
    Great info, thanksf for sharing.

  13. cwatenpool

    On June 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Please read my writing about what i think about america.

    http://authspot.com/poetry/when-i-look-at-the-flag/

    P.S: I really need alot of views

  14. Christa

    On June 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I really want a kangaroo so bad but everyone is doubting me.. I have no idea how to get one.

  15. Mark Gordon Brown

    On June 29, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Christa,

    Unless you have a lot of space a kangaroo is not a viable option for a pet. A better alternative for those wanting a kangaroo like creature is a Bennet’s Wallaby. They can be litter box trained and live in a varaity of situations and climates. They look exactly like their large cousins the kangaroo as well. Basically if you have the space and time for a mid size dog you have the space and time for a bennet’s wallaby. Kangaroos require a lot more space and special care.

  16. gaby7

    On July 9, 2010 at 2:43 am

    My idea of a pet has been very limited, did not know even a Kangaroo can be a pet LOL! But honestly this was a nice article

  17. Inxxu

    On August 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I think there is nothing wrong to have exotic pet…I for example would take a lion or tiger, but I think this is straightforwardly a bad idea :) …still I love these exotic cats…

  18. Caritas

    On October 2, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Great article, really informative and useful. I’d like to get ferrets but the other half won’t let me!

  19. verobison3

    On October 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I have a ferret hes funny. I’ve heard of others but I love animals. This would be very useful to those who have exotic animals. Oh, I clicked this in the thread btw.

  20. Zane

    On November 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    WOW i love exotic cats meow oh and definantly WOLVES!!!!

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