15 Jun 5 Things to Consider Before Buying an Exotic Pet
When one says “pet”, they usually mean a commonly found companion animal like a dog, cat, or perhaps a mouse or a guinea pig. However, the more adventurous among us choose to keep uncommon or rare animals as pets; for such people, the more exotic or rare a pet is, the better. Keeping a rare animal as a companion may seem like a joyful experience, but there are a few factors to consider before welcoming such a creature into your home. The rules for individuals differ from the rules for organizations, for instance. While a zoo or wildlife sanctuary can safely transport and ship rare animals, the rules for shipping exotic pets are very different for a private entity.
Since the attention and care required by exotic animals is different to regular household pets, you should consider a few factors and check if your new exotic friend is a suitable companion, or if they will be happier in the world than indoors.
Here are a Few Things to Consider Before Getting an Exotic Pet.
1. Will the Exotic Pet Suit Your Lifestyle?
There is a reason why dogs and cats successfully maintain their spot as the most popular pets, being around humanity has led us to become familiar with their breeds, sizes, care, and so on. For an exotic pet, these factors may be known or unknown, which means you need to consider a few things before welcoming one home:
- Will the pet outgrow your house/space?
- Will it live a long/short life?
- What kind of personality does it have? Is it social and welcoming, or confrontational and aggressive?
- If it is a large pet, will it be safe to keep other people and pets around?
- Do you have children? Are they old enough to understand this exotic pet’s needs and personality? If not, is the pet of child-friendly temperament?
- Will you be able to find pet sitters or pet boarding’s which will keep them in your absence?
- What are the exercise and daily requirements of this pet?
- What kind of food will this pet require? Will they eat more than you can provide?
- Can you find a vet for this exotic pet?
- How expensive is this animal? How much will it cost to care for this animal, especially in relation to its lifespan?
- If you decide you aren’t enjoying the experience, can you find someone who can care for this exotic animal?
2. Does Your Country Allow Ownership of Exotic Pets?
The first thing you need to clarify is the exact definition of ‘exotic’ pets in your country. Exotics may lead people to think of snakes or baboons as pets, but many species of birds and fish are on endangered/protected species lists and are considered exotic. Import laws vary from country to country, and if you think your pet of choice is an exotic animal, you should first check if your country permits pet import of that animal and whether your pet relocation is in compliance with the law.
Exotic pets have a loosely defined definition. A wild animal will obviously constitute an exotic pet, but so will mixes of dog and cat breeds like Pitbull mixes or cats of Bengal descent, so familiarize yourself with the rules before any pet import/export.
3. Exotic Pets Need Specialist Shipment
It should be no surprise that transporting an exotic pet requires a certain level of expertise. First, there are the rules regarding the move itself, with each country having their laws and legislation regarding what animals are considered exotic, permitted to enter, and what the import requirements shall be.
Then there’s the matter of the animal itself, as while some exotic animals are deemed to be so due to rarity, others are deemed exotic due to their wild or unpredictable nature which could be dangerous for inexperienced transporters (think of a postal company trying to relocate a lion, for example). Only seasoned exotic animal transporters are qualified to transport such creatures safely. Take this into consideration if you’re importing a potentially exotic pet.
4.“Exotic” Animals Have a Bad Rap
Regrettably, there is no ethical way of getting an exotic pet. Wildlife protection acts and laws are in place for a reason, as some of these animals are now endangered because of human interference. Since laws forbid the purchase and ownership of such animals, the exotic animal market is a thriving black market; thousands of baby monkeys, snakes, turtles, macaws, and fish are sold illegally after being stolen from their natural habitat. And since they’re stolen and illegal to own, they are smuggled in and out of countries instead of being shipped, which means a large percentage of them die in transit. Smuggling means animals are transported with little care for hygiene, which can cause a further issue as wild animals carry zoonotic diseases (diseases spread from animals to people).
5.Does one Need an Exotic Pet?
Ask yourself, what can an exotic or rare pet give you over a regular household companion? The only thing such an animal offers as a companion is a rarity factor, and when you consider the maintenance and effort required over the short and long term, it probably isn’t worth it for 99% of people. If you’re simply looking for the “cool” or “hip” factor, head to a shelter or select a breed and visit a reputable breeder. Dogs, cats, and other animals which have been domesticated over thousands of years by people show love, and affection, and are socialized to thrive in their respective environments. An exotic wild animal, on the other hand, will likely not care about you; it is wild after all.
While exotic pets do have a certain ‘wow’ factor to them, there is not much else they bring to the table, both as companions and as creatures you can co-exist with. Such animals are illegally poached and stolen from their habitats, have wildly different needs and sizes, are difficult to domesticate, and are often prohibited by law.
Pet travel or international pet relocation is another potential hassle, as any protected, rare, or endangered species will have special import/export laws which are strictly enforced. To sum up, don’t buy the hype, and instead, choose a companion for how well they suit your life & needs instead of how rare or flashy they are. Remember, animals are living creatures, and are not meant to be status symbols.