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
* 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
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
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
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