Exotic Pets – Finding the Perfect Match

SKAH blog Dr. Brooks snake

The world of exotic pets is exciting and fascinating.  With the various pet shows and on-line vendors, the exotic pet world is exploding with new possibilities.  Far too often people become enamored with the idea of an exotic pet, but don’t truly realize what they’re in for.  This blog is dedicated to helping you find the ideal exotic pet for your family.

Here are some very important considerations before purchasing your exotic pet:

What is your experience level?

* In my humble opinion, some ideal “starter” pets include: rabbits,

guinea pigs, rats, parakeets, cockatiels, freshwater fish

* Intermediate pets include: ferrets, sugar gliders, snakes, leopard

geckos, bearded dragons, turtles/tortoises, invertebrates (i.e. hermit

crabs, tarantulas)

* Advanced pets include: chameleons, iguanas, monitors, large

parrots (i.e. African Greys, Amazon, Cockatoos), marine fish

What is the financial commitment?

The cost of the pet is just the beginning.  Long-term associated costs

include: bedding materials, foods, heating and lighting equipment,

special dietary supplements, water quality test equipment to name a

few.

What is the time commitment?

Exotic pets require a great deal of time to properly care for.  Reptiles,

amphibians and aquatic pets require frequent cleaning, daily

environmental monitoring and frequent trips to the store to purchase

food.

What do they eat?

If you are squeamish at the thought of touching a bug or a mouse,

then reptiles are not the ideal pet for you.  You also need to consider

availability of the appropriate food sources.  Most pet stores supply

crickets and mealworms, but some exotic pets require a more

elaborate diet (i.e. cockroaches, fish, frogs, worms, etc), which may

need to be specially ordered through on-line suppliers.

Can you meet the housing needs?

Exotic pets often require large elaborate enclosures in order to thrive.

These enclosure may need to be custom built and are often

expensive.  You also need to consider the special lighting and heating needs, as many exotic pets originate from tropical locations.

How much do you plan to interact with your pet?

Small mammals (i.e. rabbits, ferrets, etc.) and most birds tend to be

highly interactive, while many reptiles and amphibians tend to be

more secretive in nature.  Excessively handling these cryptic

creatures often leads to stress and subsequent illness.

How long will this pet live?

Most people are used to cats and dogs living 10-15 years, but fail to

realize that some birds may live 50-70 years.  It’s important to

consider who will inherit your pet if they outlive you.

Is there a local veterinarian knowledgeable in exotic pet medicine?

Exotic pets get sick, just like cats and dogs.  Given the complexity

and diversity of the various exotic pet species, it is very important to

find a veterinarian that has experience diagnosing and treating the

exotic pet.

These are just a few considerations before introducing a new exotic pet into your family.  Your veterinarian can serve as a great resource for information, and can offer insight into finding the right pet for you.

Eric Brooks, DVM

Stow Kent Animal Hospital

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Additional resources:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=666

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=684

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3015

http://www.petplace.com/small-mammals/rabbit-care/page1.aspx

http://www.petplace.com/small-mammals/training-your-ferret-to-use-the-litter-box/page1.aspx

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