Although cats and dogs are still the most popular companion animals, exotic species are gradually gaining in popularity. But what exactly is an exotic pet? Although there is no exclusive definition for “exotic pet,” the term has historically referred to wild animals taken into captivity. But today, the term has broadened to include any non-traditional animal adopted and cared for in the home. This can encompass any animal that is not a cat, dog, or farm animal.
Some states have specific laws that identify certain animal species as exotic, and some jurisdictions ban the ownership of some or all exotic animal species. These laws are designed to safeguard exotic animals that require specialized care and environments.
Types of Exotic Pets
Exotic pets come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most popular categories of exotic pets:
Amphibians have unique habitat requirements. They need tanks with both water and a dry, elevated surface. Generally, their diet includes live or pre-killed insects to closely mimic the food they would eat in the wild.
Many people choose amphibians as pets because they do not require a great deal of time to care for, with the exception of tank maintenance and cleaning. Some popular exotic amphibians include:
- Dwarf clawed frogs
- Northern leopard frogs
- African clawed frogs
- Fire-bellied toads
Birds are beautiful, unique pets that appreciate human interaction but do not require constant attention. One challenge with exotic bird care is space, since adequately-sized cages can be quite large. If you often let your bird out of its cage, you’ll need to keep doors and windows closed so it doesn’t fly away.
Depending on the species, your exotic bird’s diet may include seeds, pellets, leafy greens and vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. Common exotic birds include:
- African grey parrots
- Lories or lorikeets
- Canary-winged parakeets or bee bees
Insects and Arachnids
If you plan to adopt an insect, be sure to understand whether it’s venomous or not. Fortunately, many insects are “low maintenance” pets and require very little day-to-day care. Some arachnids, such as the tarantula, can live as long as ten years. So, make sure you can commit to caring for your insect for a lifetime before adopting.
Should I Adopt an Exotic Pet?
Considering adopting an exotic pet? There are many pros and cons of opening up your home to a more unconventional companion animal.
Exotic pets are charmingly unique and offer a great learning experience for animal lovers. Exotic pets like insects and amphibians require appropriate enclosures but take up little space compared to larger pets like dogs or horses. Additionally, exotic pets belonging to the bird, amphibian, reptile, and insect families are typically hypoallergenic, making them a potential choice for individuals with allergies to fur or pet dander.
On the other hand, disadvantages of adopting an exotic pet include the significant amount of research and preparation that is often required to care for them properly. While researching proper care is important for any pet, exotic pets often have unique requirements for their habitats, diet, and socialization and may require a bit more due diligence to confirm you are caring for them appropriately. While some pet owners might enjoy the challenge of caring for a unique species, it can be overwhelming if you are not prepared.
When adopting any new pet, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons to make an informed choice. If you are ever uncertain about an animal’s needs, be sure to consult with a trusted veterinarian.