Pointers to Take Note of When You're Planning to Own An Exotic Pet
Wed, April 21, 2021

Pointers to Take Note of When You're Planning to Own An Exotic Pet


What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “exotic pets?” Perhaps you think of monkeys, tigers, rabbits, raccoons, or ferrets, said Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, LVT, of The Spruce Pets, a website dedicated to publishing pet-related content. It’s normal to be confused about what constitutes as “exotic.” In fact, the phrase’s definition is loose, stated Lianne McLeod, DVM of The Spruce Pets.

In general, anything that is not a dog, cat, or domesticated farm animals such as a cow or horse is considered exotic. Some governments may also have a different perception of what is considered exotic. They may consider an animal to be exotic if it is not native to the region or is not a dog, cat, fish, or an animal that is widely thought or agreed to be domesticated.

Self-Evaluations of Small Pet Practitioners About Exotic Pets In Istanbul In 2016

Belgi Diren Sigirci of Istanbul University, a prominent educational institution in Turkey, gathered a total of 174 small animal practitioners from various geographical and socioeconomic regions of Istanbul. The researchers then handed out a three-part questionnaire for the practitioners to answer. Of the veterinarians, 42% were female and 58% were male. Majority of the professionals (36.2%) had an experience level of 6-15 years, followed by 0-5 years (33.3%), 16-25 years (25.9%), and over 26 years (4.6%).

When the exotic pet potential of the clinics was evaluated, 43.1% of the respondents said less than 1%, 48.3% said 1-10%, 6.9% answered 11-50%, and 1.7% reported higher than 51%. The survey revealed that 42.4% of the exotic pets’ species coming for examination were birds, followed by turtles (32%), other reptiles (16.9%), and fish (8.7%).

When asked whether exotic pet disease is important in terms of veterinary medicine, about 80% (51.7% “strongly agree and 28.7% “agree”) of respondents affirmed its importance. 12.6% said they have enough knowledge about exotic pet diseases (2.3% “strongly agree” and 10.3% “agree”). However, more than half or about 52.9% of respondents said they don’t have enough knowledge about exotic pet diseases (23.6% “strongly disagree” and 29.3% “disagree”).

When asked whether they have enough knowledge about transmission routes of exotic pet diseases from animal to humans, 20.1% of practitioners (5.2% “strongly agree” and 14.9% “agree”) know about it. Meanwhile, 54.6% of them (22.4% “strongly disagree” and 32.2%) did not have enough knowledge about it.

The research also found that 2.3% of the respondents (1.7% “strongly agree” and 0.6% “agree”) said they got enough courses about the exotic pets and diseases before graduating from the faculty of veterinary medicine. In contrast, 90.2% (70.7% “strongly disagree” and 19.5% “disagree”) said they did not get enough courses about exotic pets and diseases.

The researchers concluded that there is a need to increase the knowledge of practitioners due to the rise of exotic pet population. Veterinary faculties in Turkey should include exotic pet medicine to their syllabus. Seminars and workshops for practitioners who lack knowledge about exotic pets should continue.  



How Do Veterinarians Define Exotic Pets? 

Your veterinarian will consider your pet as exotic if is not a dog, cat, or farm animal. What if you have pocket pets? Your veterinarian may not classify them as exotic as “pocket pets” generally describes hamsters, rats, mice, or other common pets you can find in pet stores.

How Do I Know If Exotic Pets Are Legal In My Area?

Check with your state or local government to find out if owning exotic pets is legal in your area. You can also call the office and ask. Be warned that each state has its own definition of exotic. If an animal is considered exotic, keeping one as a pet may be allowed under the law if it meets certain requirements. It’s safe to say that It all depends on your local area’s laws. For example, some states prohibit owners from keeping ferrets, some permit people to keep native species while others are specific as to which exotic animals are prohibited to be kept as pets.



What Are the Common Types of Exotic Pets?

1. Amphibians

Frogs and toads that can be considered exotic are African Clawed Frogs, Dwarf Clawed Frogs, Fire Bellied Toads, and Northern Leopard Frogs, said McLeod. Amphibians have thin, fragile skin that dries out and damages easily if handled roughly. They should be handled as little as possible because amphibians absorb toxins and germs through their skin. If you need to handle them, you need to use moistened gloves. Don’t touch them with your bare hands.

2.     Reptiles

On the other hand, reptiles require special skills to take care of them properly. It is also possible for them to suffer from health complications arising from improper diet, handling, or habitat. All reptiles and amphibians can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria. These pets are not suitable for children who might touch them and then put their hands in their mouth. Examples of exotic reptiles are Bearded Dragons, Burmese Pythons, Anoles, Ornate Box Turtles, and Chinese Water Dragons.  

3.     Birds

Finches and cockatiels are common pet birds but did you know that a number of pet owners take care of exotic birds? Some examples include parrots like African Greys— which are intelligent, medium-sized parrots— or Amazons. Other known examples are Lories, Canary Wing Bee Bees, and Cockatoos. If you want to own one, be sure that its enclosure is large enough for the bird.



4.     Insects and Arachnids

You can consider owning Madagascar hissing cockroaches, praying mantis, and stick insects. Some owners like keeping scorpions; despite their docile nature, they can sting. The venom of some species of scorpions can be deadly, but you can try keeping an emperor scorpion, which is commonly kept as a pet and has the “venom potency of a bee sting.”

Tarantulas are wonderful options too, but you need to commit to taking care of one as they can live for up to three to 10 years. They are easy to care for and need little attention. Tarantulas are fed once or twice a week.

5.     Other Animals

There are other exotic animals you can keep such as raccoons, skunks, sugar gliders, and more. It is strongly recommended to do your research before getting any type of exotic pet to help you take care of it properly.

You will need to consult an exotics veterinarian for your pet’s needs. That’s another aspect you should consider before keeping an exotic pet. Be sure to check your local laws on if keeping a particular animal is legal or not.