5 Things to Consider Before Adopting an Exotic Pet

Read up on the nontraditional pets that you’re hoping to bring home so you can give them everything they need.

Find out what kind of habitat your exotic pet needs to live a happy life in your household. By: mynikphoto

Cats and dogs might make up the majority of the pet population, but some of us like pets who are not quite as traditional.

There are so many other types of animals that hold a special place in our hearts. If you’re ready to add a pet to your life but not sure if you want a cat or a dog, perhaps consider some of the more exotic pets.

Each animal has its own needs and characteristics, so it may be hard to figure out just what pet is right for you. Here are some tips to help you choose the right pet for you and your lifestyle.

1. Be Deliberate

Don’t just run out and buy the first cute critter that you stumble across. Think about how a pet is going to fit into your busy lifestyle, and what you reasonably have time for.

“Read all about the animals and their care and then decide on a species that will suit you and your circumstances best,” advises David Manning in 50 Really Exotic Pets. “Consider the accommodation, equipment, feeding and handling requirements.”

This is a process — in other words, it may take some time. Some exotics are large and will need outdoor accommodations as well. Be sure to think things through and understand what you’re taking on.

Did you know it’s illegal to keep pet ferrets in California and Hawaii? By: lynahe

2. Obey the Law

Different parts of the country — and other countries — may have different laws pertaining to what you can or cannot legally keep as a pet. “Pet ownership laws vary from state to state sometimes even from city to city, so a creature mentioned in this book or even for sale in a pet store may not be legal to own,” warns Manning.

Some laws are archaic, but until they’re changed, they’re still laws. For example, ferrets are widely popular, but they are illegal to own in California and Hawaii. Getting caught with a ferret means a hefty fine — and worse, you may lose your furry friend.

Other animals carry restrictions as well, from hamsters (which are illegal to own in Hawaii) to snakes.

While not necessarily a legal issue, check with your homeowner’s insurance to ensure coverage will continue while you house an exotic that could be considered dangerous.

3. Budget for Your Pet

Not a very exciting part of the process but a vital one, nonetheless. Exotic pets have their own needs, from special aquariums to aluminum fencing and more — and it can add up quickly. Considerations should include:

  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Security
  • Veterinary care
  • Supplies such as toys or aquarium add-ons.

All of these things are necessary for the health and happiness of your pet — and in some cases, the safety of your neighbors. Be smart, responsible and financially prepared.

4. Consider Your Household Size

If there are children in your household, consider your choice of pet even more carefully. Small children or guests can’t always be trusted to handle animals properly, and when we’re dealing with exotics, this can be dangerous for both the pet and the people involved.

Snakes, lizards, spiders and large mammals can cause serious injury or death; in many cases, these animals are not as trainable as the standard dog or cat. In addition, children or guests may be careless about replacing cage covers properly or handling, causing injury to the animals.

Wow — this White’s tree frog is actually adorable:

Be considerate and consider allergies of the people you live with. It can cause friction if you have a furry pet who is constantly kicking up dander.

Each family is different, so you may encounter no issues at all. But be sure that everyone in the household understands what they’ll be taking on with you when you bring a pet into the home.

5. Secure Good Veterinary Care

While there are more vets out there learning about exotic animal care, it can be tricky to find a well-trained veterinarian who is willing to take on the role of being your pet’s care provider.

You will need to do your homework and possibly even interview with potential vets to ensure that you have a plan in the event your pet is injured. You should ideally have a plan B as well — your local emergency pet care center is ready for dogs and cats, but workers may balk at helping a tarantula.

Exotics can be some of the most fun and rewarding pets to take care of. You just need to find the right pet for you and your family. Be smart, be safe and be prepared. Most of all, congratulations on your new furry, feathered, scaly or hairy addition to the family!

Melissa Smith

View posts by Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith, discussions manager for Petful, has been researching and writing about pet behaviors for several years. A longtime pet lover, she lives in Massachusetts with her teenage son, their cat Harrison and the spirit of their German shepherd named Gypsy. Melissa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia design and hopes to adopt as many needy animals as she can.

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