So You Think You Want an Exotic Pet…


Dogs and cats are fine com­pan­ions for a lot of folks.  Oth­ers pre­fer fish, ham­sters, or horses.  But not you.  You like to live on the edge, and that includes your choice of pets.

Snakes, chin­chillas, trop­i­cal birds, and other exotic ani­mals can make for fas­ci­nat­ing pets, but they also bring a laun­dry list of con­sid­er­a­tions you need to deal with before pur­chas­ing one.  From obvi­ous stuff, like habi­tat and food, to less appar­ent con­sid­er­a­tions like whether your intended pet is legal in your area, a mul­ti­tude of facets of exotic pet own­er­ship need to be thought about long and hard.  Stuff like this:


Any pet is going to take green out of your wal­let, but that can eas­ily get out of hand with exotic ani­mals.  Many rep­tiles and amphib­ians need enclo­sures that mimic their nat­ural habi­tat so they won’t feel the need to run off.  Arbo­real pets will need some­thing resem­bling trees to hang out in.  Feed­ing an exotic ani­mal can get costly, as well.  Many exotic pets have spe­cial­ized dietary needs that will have to be catered to.  If you’re not finan­cially sta­ble, or if you’re sim­ply unwill­ing to pay so much to care for your pet, you’ll be bet­ter off not get­ting an exotic animal.

Local Laws

Some ani­mal are just flat-out unlaw­ful to keep in some areas of the coun­try.  You need to know if you can legally own a python or an alli­ga­tor in your town.  Remem­ber, many states, cities, and coun­ties have vary­ing laws gov­ern­ing ani­mals, so just because your baboon is legal in your state, that doesn’t mean it be legal in your city.

Ani­mal Instincts

Exotic pets, for the most part, haven’t been domes­ti­cated and are com­ing straight from the wild.  That means they’ll still be slave to their nat­ural instincts when you bring them home.  It’ll take time to blunt their instincts and urges.  On top of that, exotic ani­mals can’t be house­bro­ken, so that could get messy.

Safety Con­cerns

If you have small kids or elderly fam­ily mem­ber liv­ing with you, you’ll want to make sure your prospec­tive pet won’t seri­ously injure any of them.  Exotic ani­mals can also carry exotic dis­eases that lit­tle kids and older folks are espe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to.  Make sure your ani­mal isn’t a bio­log­i­cal weapon in an exotic pet’s clothing.

Care Options

Your exotic ani­mal is likely to get sick, and in that case you need to have access to a local vet­eri­nar­ian with the req­ui­site skills and will­ing­ness to treat your pet.  It doesn’t hurt to have a back-up for emer­gen­cies, either.  You’ll also need to find some­one to see to the care of your pet while you on vaca­tion or away from home.  One other point to think about is that many exotic pets bond very closely with their own­ers and don’t tol­er­ate other peo­ple very well.  You may want to skip plan­ning vaca­tions for the rest of your pet’s life.

Your Life Plan

Because your exotic pet may live for 10 – 20 years, it will have a long-term affect on your life.  It may not tol­er­ate new peo­ple in your life, like new spouses, kids, or sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers.  Many exotic ani­mals also don’t move or re-home well, so if you’ll be mov­ing about a lot, you may want to stick with cats.

Why You Want an Exotic Pet

The gets over­looked quite a bit by prospec­tive exotic pet own­ers, but it’s pretty impor­tant to know why you want the ani­mal in the first place.  Do you want to be dif­fer­ent?  Because they look cool?  Because your kids won’t shut up about it?  None of those are good rea­sons to get an exotic ani­mal, espe­cially when you con­sid­ered the com­mit­ment and cost it’ll take to make your exotic ani­mal into a true blue fam­ily pet.


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