If you’re considering buying an exotic animal as your next pet, you should weigh all the facts carefully before making a purchase. There’s a healthy debate going on as to whether or not exotic animals should be kept as pets in this country, as well as what constitutes an “exotic animal” in the first place.
Animals are generally considered “exotic” if they don’t fit into the standard domestic or farm animal categories. In other words, if it’s not a dog, cat, fish, horse, cow, pig, etc. it’s probably an exotic animal in most parts of the country. But there are no hard and fast rules in this regard, which leads to some confusion when prospective pet owners are shopping for exotic animals as pets.
In some states, even common pet store “pocket pets” are considered exotic animals, things like ferrets, rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. If you’re not sure about the rules and regulations where you live, visit your state’s official website, or give them a call before you make a purchase. There’s nothing worse than buying a new pet only to discover later that it’s not allowed in the city or state in which you live.
So which exotic animals make good pets?
Well, if you accept the above guidelines as to what constitutes an exotic animal, there are a number of these critters who make good pets, and can be fun and safe additions to your home.
On the other hand, there are also quite a few exotic animals that you should never consider bringing into your home, as they can be dangerous, extremely hard to handle and care for, and can even harbor life-threatening diseases. These include animals such as monkeys, wolves, bears, alligators, black panthers and other big cats, spotted pythons, flying squirrels, poison dart frogs, sugar gliders and more.
These are animals that aren’t domesticated, and were never meant to be kept in a confined space (other than maybe your local zoo or wildlife preserve). Some of these species, for example, roam for miles on a daily basis in their native habitats. There’s no way of replicating this no matter how big your yard is. And of bigger concern is the fact that by some estimates a third of all reptiles sold in the US (including turtles and green iguanas) harbor salmonella and shigella bacteria, intestinal bacteria that can be deadly in humans.
Okay, now that we’ve ruled out many of the exotic animals that don’t make good pets, are there any that do? And what if you're single and are out of the house most of the day, or you have small children in your home?
There are in fact quite a few these exotic pets that are suitable to purchase or adopt, as long as you consider your choice carefully, and take into account the animal’s needs and what you’re looking for in a pet. The following is a short list of animals that have a good track record as exotic pets:
#1 - Rabbits.
A lot of people don’t consider rabbits “exotic” pets, but they generally fall into this category. These cuddly little critters typically make loveable pets, they’re fairly low-maintenance, and the live longer than hamsters. While rabbits occasionally bit, they’re usually very personable and great around kids.
#2 - Guinea Pigs
Here’s another small animal that most people don’t think of as “exotic,” and Guinea Pigs have been sold in many pet stores for decades. Unlike hamsters, Guinea Pigs don’t usually bite, they’re gentle and safe around kids, and they’re fairly low-maintenance pets. They’re also hardy animals and have a longer life span than hamsters.
#3 - Leopard Geckos
Most people associate geckos with those cute car insurance commercials, but these little critters make great pets. There are actually more than 800 different species of geckos, but the Leopard Gecko is the one most commonly found in pet shops. Unlike many lizards, geckos don’t require a large tank, and they’re very gentle and safe around kids, and they don’t smell. Another advantage is geckos are nocturnal creatures and they don’t require special UVB lighting systems.
#4 - Bearded Dragons
Another one in the lizard family, Bearded Dragons are much less fearsome then their name. Like the geckos mentioned above, these lizards are quite passive, and generally safe around children and other members of the family. Dragons have the added benefit of being a little hardier than the geckos, they’re quiet and don’t emit an odor, and they live longer as well.
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