8 Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying An Exotic Pet

Although distinct and under the best circumstances, wonderful and engaging pets, exotic animals pose many unique and often unforeseen challenges for owners. If you're considering bringing an unusual animal into your home, it probably warrants a few questions, first.

1. Is The Exotic Animal Safe For Everyone In Your Household?

Not only do you need to be concerned about a pet possibly biting someone in your home, but you also need to be wary of cleaning up after it. Reptiles, a common choice in exotic pets, can endanger human care-takers by possibly exposing them to salmonella, making cleanup a very sensitive operation. Learn about the animal you're interested in getting, first, then make sure it and the surrounding humans aren't going to be threatened in any way, by making sure it can be properly cared for. If special handling of the animal is needed, such as with a constrictor, see that everyone has proper training before being introduced to it. If there's any question of safety, call your local vet and see if they don't have a minute to explain the potential hazards. Also, if you have kids, it might be a good idea to ask your pediatrician if the exotic animal you're interested in poses as a threat in some way you haven't thought of yet, such as allergies.

2. Does This Animal Fill Your Needs For A Pet Adequately?

Different pets serve different purposes, but all pets should fill a need in their human's lives, be it for companionship or to exhaust a need for nurturing. Ask yourself what need the exotic pet is fulfilling for you and make sure it's a logical combination. For example, if you're looking to have something in the house to impress your friends, that may not be the best reasoning. If you (or someone else in the home) has a genuine affection for the particular exotic pet you're considering and the human-pet relationship is mutually beneficial, you're on the right track.

3. If The Exotic Pet Is For Your Child, Can Others Care For It When Needed?

Maybe your teenage son or daughter is perfectly capable of feeding a snake or lizard regularly, but what happens if they're away for some reason? Can you handle the responsibility, especially if feeding might involve live insects or small rodents? If your child is away at camp or over a friend's house, for example, can the pet fend for itself, or will you need to be involved? Make sure there's someone left behind who can interact with the pet and see to its needs.

4. Is There A Good Book You Can Buy, To Go Along With The New Creature?

Even traditional dogs and cats can come down with some pretty unusual conditions, so it makes sense that an exotic animal would come with the same need for information. Ask the people where you will obtain your exotic pet from if they can recommend good literature that will make you a good pet parent to the exotic animal.

5. Can You Accommodate The Pet With An Appropriate Habitat?

Some exotic animals, due to the climate of their origins, require heat and light that probably isn't provided by your normal interior home conditions; thus, necessitating appliances that may come with a hefty electric bill. Additionally, outdoor exotic animals may need a lot of space, within the safe confines of a secured fence. Whatever the need, you'll need to fill it, in order to keep the animal protected, healthy and content.

6. Does The Exotic Animal Require A Special Diet You'll Have Difficulty Meeting?

Feeding odd animals could call for some special culinary talents and it's important that you can accommodate this. Even if you choose a vegetarian tortoise, for example, it's going to need a constant supply of fresh food, meaning a few additional items to your weekly grocery list and a few minutes extra for preparing it. While it's possible to serve some carnivores frozen meals, instead of living ones, there aren't really any good choices when it comes to dried, dog or cat-like food with exotic animals. In other words, if you're bothered by serving frozen rats to a pet snake, there's no morsel equivalent, which will allow you to feed the pet without the "ick" factor.

7. Can Your Local Vet Treat The Animal In Emergencies And For Checkups?

Under no circumstances should you bring a pet into your home that can't be treated by your local vet. While most vets have at least some knowledge of unusual animals, it's always best to ask, first. Even if they can learn "on the fly", it's only fair to them and your pet that you give a heads up on the species of potential pet you could bring to them. A quick phone call should tell you if your local vet has the special knowledge or equipment needed.

8. What Will You Do If The Exotic Animal Doesn't Work Out For You?

Too many unwanted animals, exotic and otherwise, end up on the streets because their owners don't know what else to do with them and that can be very dangerous to the public, wild animals in the area and of course, to the pet itself. Have a plan in place before you obtain an exotic animal, so you're not left in a difficult situation. Your local Fish and Wildlife Service should be able to advise you on the legality of an exotic animal, as well as where to go if the animal doesn't work out in your home. Remember, too, that any animal you're interested in as a baby could grow up into quite a different animal, being so much larger, stronger, hungrier and perhaps difficult to control or contain.

An exotic animal may, in fact, be the perfect pet for your household; in which case, so long as you research care properly, including having an exotic vet to take it to, you should be able to live happily ever after together. On the other hand, it the unique pet simply isn't a good fit, it's not a good idea to press your luck and bring it into your home, anyway. Rethink the situation and opt for what's best for everyone involved, including the animal itself. For more information, see this website, or others like it.