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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