Is an Exotic Pet Right for You?

If you are considering adding an exotic pet to your family, congratulations.  Owning an unusual pet can be a lot of fun .

Over past 10 years The exotic pet trade has gained a lot of interest . Reptiles, small mammals, avian, and some primates/marsupials have become very popular and are readily available at many local pet stores, and from breeders.

Before deciding on a pet there are some issues you need to consider:

  • Having the proper information about the pet before buying which includes research on their habitat in the wild and social characteristics.
  • Where to get the pet.  Is the dealer reputable?
  • Legal issues.  Many exotic pets are not legal to own without special permits or licenses.
  • Finding a veterinarian to treat your animal.  It can be difficult to find a veterinarian willing to treat exotic pets.  In some cases, veterinarians are not legally allowed to treat some animals people acquire as pets (raccoons, skunks, etc.)



Reptiles make really good pets. They are a lot of fun to watch and are a blast to care for.  Keeping reptiles is a lot like having a hobby.  They require constant care and attention.  Proper reptile husbandry is essential for keeping a healthy happy herp. When keeping reptiles it is important to know as much as possible about the health needs and requirements for your particular pet. Some reptiles can harbor some diseases that are harmful to people.  Your pet is an exotic animal and will require an “exotic” diet and an “exotic” habitat. It is also important to create a habitat that is as close as possible to what they would have in the wild. Reptiles in particular require special lighting (UVA/UVB) and a certain heat gradient for thermoregulation. Reptiles cannot generate their own heat. When they are cold in the wild, they will climb on a rock on a sunny day and bask in the sun to raise their body temperature. When they are warm enough, they will dismount the rock and crawl back to a cooled spot under a bush or under a rock to cool down.  Most also require calcium and vitamin supplements daily on their food.  Depending on the species you acquire, the size of their enclosure may need to be quite large depending on the size they reach as adults.


Birds are fascinating pets.  Many species have the ability to mimic, they are brightly colored and they can be extremely social.  Purchasing a bird is a huge responsibility as they can live for decades.  Each species, and the sexes within each species have varying characteristics.  Before purchasing a bird, these characteristics should be thoroughly researched.  Be realistic about your expectations for what adding a bird will mean to your family.  First and foremost, birds are loud.  All birds, even the very small ones.  Obviously the constant chatter of a finch is a lot different than the earsplitting screech of a macaw.  Birds require a proper enclosure to ensure their safety when not out socializing and to deter behavioral problems.  The bigger the bird, the bigger the cage.  All species tend to be messy and require daily cleaning of their enclosures for sanitation purposes.  Again, the bigger the bird, the bigger the mess.  As with all exotic pets, birds require very specific care as far as diet and husbandry.  The rewards for providing this care will be returned tenfold fold by your companion that can last a lifetime (literally).


This is a very large category that includes ferrets, rabbits, sugar glider, gerbils, hamsters, rats, hedgehogs, and many other species.  This is a huge group of exotic pets and they are all very different concerning husbandry and personality.  Some are nocturnal which can disrupt children’s bedtime if the enclosure is kept in their room.  This will also mean that during the day, the pet will not be active when everyone is awake.  Unlike cats and dogs, all pets in this category will require constant handling to keep them tame.  If they are not fed the proper diet, serious health problems can result.  Like birds, their enclosures need to be cleaned regularly for sanitation purposes.  The smaller species, hamster, rats, and gerbils, are notorious for being escape artists.

This blog is meant to be just a general summary to get you to ask yourself the right questions when considering an exotic pet.  Consulting your veterinarian is paramount before purchase. 

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