Social issues faced by exotic pet owners

The term “exotic pet” does not always indicate that the pet is an unusual or rare species rarely found. When used in the pet trade, the term “exotic” really only means that this particular animal is not a species that is frequently found in households as a pet. Dogs, cats, hamsters, parakeets, et. al. are animals that are more often considered when someone adds an animal companion to their family. Such species as prairie dogs, chinchillas, flying squirrels, snakes and lizards are not often chosen as pets and are usually not available at your local pet store. What makes a pet exotic is whether people usually consider this animal a pet.

Some things for potential owners of exotic pets to consider:

Most exotic pets require exotic veterinary care. Is there a veterinarian in your area who will see your pet? What are their prices? Most veterinarians who will see exotics charge more than they would for a cat or dog. Also, check and see if there is a local animal hospital that sees exotics and what their prices are. You never know when you will have a medical emergency and you want to make sure you can provide the best possible care for your pet.

What is the lifespan of the exotic pet? Many exotic birds can live upwards of 40 and 50 years, if not longer. Are you prepared to care for your animal for their entire life? If something happens to you, is there someone who can care for your pet?

What is the exotic pet’s dietary needs? How easy is it for you to obtain these needs? Some animals require specific dietary supplements that may not be available at your local pet store or grocery store. The best thing to remember is that the place where you got your pet is likely the best place to get their food. If you have to travel hundreds of miles to get your pet, will you have to travel that far to get his or her food?

How much do you really know about this species? How much does anyone? Have you read up on all of these issues for your pet, as well as such things as what kind of habitation or cage is ideal? Can you provide for this animal’s needs? Are you aware of possible medical issues that this species may face?

And lastly, but most importantly, as most exotic pets are more wild than domestic, they require more time and attention in order for them to bond to you, to be used to being handled and to become used to other people that will interact with the animal. Do you have the time to dedicate to this animal that the animal needs?

These are all issues that seriously need to be considered before bringing an exotic pet into your home. I hope anyone who is considering doing so will reflect deeply on whether they can appropriately provide for their pet BEFORE bringing the pet home. If you can, and exotic pet can be a wonderful companion.

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