Outdoor Safety for Exotic Pets

Before offering your exotic pet a trip outdoors, there are several precautions you should follow to keep your pet safe and healthy.

outdoor-safety-exotic-pets
Shade and water are a must when pets are outside. By: Phil Whitehouse

Like people, your exotic pet might enjoy a day outside enjoying the warmth and sunshine. However, just as with all aspects of exotic pet care, they’ll require special precautions to maintain their safety when you take them outside.

Although a domesticated pet may be fine with some tick and flea medicine and a leash, exotic pets have other requirements to maintain their well-being when outdoors. The following are some tips for taking your exotics outside safely.

Tick and Flea Prevention

  • If your exotic is a furry mammal, such as a hamster, rabbit or ferret, then they are susceptible to ticks and fleas.
  • Fleas can come in contact with your exotic when he is in the grass. Without a prevention method, your pet and your home could be overrun with an infestation before you are aware there is a problem.
  • Ticks can also get on your exotic while he is outside; in addition to causing pain and a risk of infection from their bites, ticks carry disease.

Please remember, you can’t use the same products on exotic pets as you would for a dog or a cat. Your veterinarian can tell you which type of tick and flea prevention product will work for your exotic. Follow the product’s directions for application. Steering clear of tall grass and keeping a close eye on your pet helps as well.

Plants and Pesticides

With spring and summer comes lush, green vegetation. Many plants are toxic to different types of animals, however. Even though you may feed your exotic greens and think that letting him nibble on some fresh grass or leaves outside is a good idea, you could be putting your pet at risk. Not only could he ingest something that is poisonous to him, but he could also be ingesting pesticides or chemicals from fertilizers. If these chemicals have been used anywhere in your yard, rain can cause the chemicals to run off into the grass.

If you’re concerned that your area isn’t free of toxins, try these tips:

  • Provide a grass-free area or cover the ground with a blanket or tarp.
  • Bring him a snack from your house for him to nibble on.

Containment

For your exotic to be able to safely enjoy the outdoors, you will need to take precautions to avoid injury to your pet and to prevent him from escaping.

  • Mammals, including rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets, should be placed in an enclosed pen, preferably one with a top and a bottom as they may try to dig out.
  • If there is no top on the pen, make sure that the sides are tall enough to prevent your pet from getting out and to prevent potential predators from gaining access to the enclosure and harming your pet.
  • Regardless of the type of pen you are using, do not leave your pet unattended for extended periods. A predator could injure your pets through the wire with a swipe from sharp claws or damage the cage to get to them.

This video shows an outdoor play area and offers some tips on bringing pets outdoors:

Shade and Water

  • Many exotics can easily become overheated, so take precautions to avoid this. Provide plenty of water for your pet as well as ample shady areas.
  • Do not place your exotic in direct sunlight for an extended time.
  • Even though they may like a dose of sunshine, furry mammals quickly get too hot. Make sure you have a shaded area for your pet to go to when he gets too hot, along with plenty of circulation.
  • Some reptiles enjoy warm temperatures, but direct sunlight for long periods can cause them to dehydrate.

Birds

  • Birds should not be taken out unless the wings are clipped or they are contained in a cage. If they aren’t, a sudden gust could pick up your bird and carry him away from you.
  • Tethers for birds are not recommended for outside use because it is quite easy for many birds to slip out from them, allowing the birds to fly away. Tethered birds can also suffer leg injuries.
  • Taking your bird out while it is inside its cage is the safest option; your pet can enjoy the sunshine without risk of flying away and becoming harmed.

Microchipping

If you want to take your exotic pet outside, consider getting him microchipped. If your pet gets away and is found, the registered microchip can get him back home to you safely.

An exotic pet can often travel a great distance upon escape. Without microchipping, if your pet is found, he won’t be easily reunited with you.

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