Things To Consider When Getting An Exotic Pet

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From the time I was six, we always had pets in our house. First there was Amber, the family cat. She died from Parkinson's Disease at age 11. There was also the 50-gallon fish tank my mom got us. Then, my sister brought in a progression of other animals that seemed to get stranger as time went on. Snakes, rats, geckos...I talked her out of getting a tarantula, but she always enjoyed things that were 'different'. If you or your children are the same way, you might wonder what exotic pets might be best for your home. A lot of it depends on how much time and effort you want to put into their upkeep, but there are other factors too. Here are some ideas that can help you decide what kind of pet you want to get, if any.

What kind of maintenance does it need? It's no secret that some animals require more time and effort than others, but exotic pets have needs that are different from dogs and cats. First, there is the fact that they often have unusual diets. You can't always find food for them in the store, so you'll have to consider where the pet's meals will come from. Lizards and snakes are carnivores; are you willing to feed them a steady diet of whatever other animal they eat? Also, how will they keep clean? You can't bathe rodents such as hamsters and chinchillas with water; they need a certain kind of dust to roll around in. It can be expensive, so are you willing to pay for it? Their life spans are longer than dogs or cats, so it's a lifetime commitment.

Is it legal? Believe it or not, some places have laws as to which animals can be legally kept as pets. This is in addition to anything your landlord or apartment complex might allow. For instance, wild animals such as tigers or lions cannot be kept as pets. Also, many states outlaw pet monkeys, 'game' animals such as deer, or crocodiles. This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised. Check the laws in your particular area, as some are different from others.

What happens if it attacks someone? Unlike dogs and cats, many exotic animals are not domesticated. In other words, their species' don't have the benefit of selective breeding or insight into human behavior. 'Tamed' does not mean 'domesticated', so exotic animals can still be dangerous. For instance, someone in North Carolina kept a Bengal tiger. The person thought it was safe to have as a pet because it was 'tamed', but then it attacked and nearly killed his 3-year-old son. Other animals such as snakes and lizards can bite and, even if they aren't poisonous, it still hurts!

And, now, for what is probably the biggest consideration-

Is anyone in the household afraid of it? I talked my sister out of getting a tarantula because I have a major case of arachnophobia. Many people are scared of rodents and lizards, and we won't even mention snakes! It might be fine to for your child to keep these things in her room so no one else has to see it, but this may not be possible if it is a larger animal or your kids share a room.

These are just a few of the things you should think of if you are considering getting an exotic pet. They can be very interesting to keep, but they often need different kinds of care than 'standards' like dogs or cats. If you're not sure what a particular animal requires, the pet store or breeder your animal comes from will have some pointers. Good luck!

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