Wild animals are undoubtedly majestic and intelligent, which make them attractive to pet owners, noted the World Animal Protection, an international non-profit animal welfare organization. Owners may imagine showing off their exotic pets to their loved ones and strangers, but these animals have complex needs and behaviors that are only met in the wild. Most owners may not be aware of how much their “pets” suffer from being away from their natural habitat.
Perceptions of Exotic Animals (February 2020)
Eurogroup for Animals, a pan-European advocacy organization for animals, conducted an online quantitative survey involving respondents who were interviewed about their perceptions of trading and keeping exotic animals as pets at home. 6,137 adults from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Finland aged 18 and above were interviewed between 11th and 17th February 2020.
Overall, 93% of respondents agreed that authorities should be aware of people who own an exotic animal(s) and the type of animal(s) they own (versus 5% of those who disagreed). 92% (versus 6%) also believed that it is wrong to capture animals from the wild to be kept as pets. 87% agreed that exotic animals should not be allowed to be kept as pets (versus 10%).
A small proportion of respondents agreed that exotic animals are safe to have at home versus 85% of those who disagreed with the statement. Likewise, 83% disagreed that exotic animals are easy to keep as pets compared to 12% of those who agreed. 92% and 88% agreed that the trade of exotic pets should be better regulated (versus 6% of those who disagreed) and should be regulated by the European Union (EU) due to the free movement of goods in the Common Market (versus 9%), respectively.
96% of Spaniards said the trade of exotic animals as pets should be regulated by the EU compared to 82% of respondents in France and Italy. 95% of Spaniards and 94% of Germans agreed that the trade of exotic animals as pets should be better regulated, followed by Italy (89%), Poland (90%), Finland (91%), and France (91%). 89% of Spanish and 87% of French adults were most likely to agree that exotic animals should not be allowed to be kept as pets.
Respondents from Italy (94%), Finland (94%), and Germany (93%) were most likely to agree that capturing animals from the wild to be kept as pets is wrong. 96% of Italians and 95% of Spaniards were most likely to agree that authorities should be aware of people who own an exotic animal(s) and the type of animal(s) they own. 84% of Italian and 87% of Spanish respondents also agreed that exotic animals pose a risk to their native wildlife.
Respondents aged 55+ agreed that the trade of exotic animals as pets should be regulated by the EU because of the free movement of goods in the common market unlike 80% of 18 to 34-year-old adults. However, adults aged between 18 to 34 years were more likely to agree that exotic animals are safe to keep as pets (19%) and to have at home (18%) unlike 7% of those aged 55 and above.
Why You Should Not Keep Exotic Pets
1. Wild Animals
Cats and dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and they have been selectively bred to have specific traits that help them peacefully thrive in human captivity. Exotic pets are not meant to live in your house, including those bred in captivity as they have the same qualities as that of a wild animal. These traits make them unsuitable for a domestic environment.
2. Global Pet Trade
Animals in the global pet trade suffer cruel and deadly fates as they are either poached or bred in captivity on a farm. They are often shipped from long distances until the animal arrives at their final destination, where they are deprived of food, shelter, room to roam, and environment to regulate their body temperature.
While owners want something unconventional and eccentric than a cat or a dog, few of them don’t know what they are signing up for. For example, a grey parrot is an intelligent animal that requires as much attention as a toddler. Grey parrots also outlive their owners, so they have to be rehomed many times, causing them to suffer emotionally.
Baby wild animals are cute, which may prompt owners to own one, explained PAWS, a non-profit organization that protects and promotes the humane treatment of all animals. However, once these animals mature, they can become unpredictable and pose danger to humans.
Small animals like squirrels can inflict a painful bite or scratch if their natural instincts trigger. Moreover, wild animals carry zoonotic diseases like Brucellosis, Salmonella, and ringworm, as well as parasites. There are thousands of reports involving exotic pets escaping from their owner’s enclosures, stated One Green Planet, an online guide to help people make conscious choices that aid the planet, animals, and other individuals.
For instance, owners have been strangled by large pet snakes or attacked by pet bears, chimpanzees, and some big cats. Oftentimes, these animals are killed on sight. Situations like this emphasize the need to formulate stricter regulations (or bands) regarding the ownership of exotic animals.
5. Irresponsible Release
Exotic pets are sometimes released into the wild by their owners. According to One Green Planet, this is a desperate attempt for owners to devoid themselves of their responsibility for the animal while under the false impression that it is better off in the “wild.” The problem here is that “wild” is defined as a residential neighborhood or city, at least in the US. Sadly, most of the animals starve or unable to adapt to their current environment. Worst, the animals get killed by native species or suffer from traffic accidents. Exotic pets that survive upon release and adapt themselves in their new environment are known as invasive species.
What Can You Do To Help Exotic Animals Kept As Pets
If anyone in your social circle plans to buy an exotic pet, inform them about the disadvantages of keeping one at home. Avoid sharing cute videos of exotic pets on social media as they enable wildlife trade, providing the industry with free advertising— no one wants that!
Exotic animals are beautiful but owners should be aware of the issues associated with keeping (or domesticating) them. Owners should remember that a wild animal’s needs are different from domestic animals. Further, is your safety a price you want to pay when keeping a wild animal as a pet?