How to Choose the Best Exotic Pet for You
Are you allergic to cat fur? Live in an apartment? Travel a lot? If you wish you had a pet, but there just isn’t room in your lifestyle for a dog or cat, don’t despair. An exotic pet might be the perfect pet for you! Here’s a guide to exotic pets and how to choose the one that best fits your needs.
What are Exotic Pets?
There are many ways to define the term “exotic pet.” An exotic pet is any pet that’s not a dog, cat, or farm animal. Exotic pets are a little out of the ordinary, and they have different medical treatment needs than dogs, cats, or farm animals, hence the name.
Exotic pets include small animals, such as small mammals (rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and chinchillas), birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and crabs. But exotic pets aren’t just small: monkeys, kangaroos, pot-bellied pigs, and large cats are also considered exotic pets.
One reason exotic pets are in a group of their own is that veterinary training at U.S. vet schools is focused primarily on dogs, cats, and farm animals, because these are most of the pet population. Veterinarians who treat exotic pets have acquired further training and experience beyond veterinarian school so that they can specialize in these unique kinds of pets.
Exotic Pets for People with Allergies
You don’t have to miss out on pet ownership just because you or one of your family members is allergic to pet hair. There are a lot of pets in the exotic group that don’t have fur at all. They’re automatically hypoallergenic! Consider adding one of these great exotic pets to your home:
- Reptiles (Lizards, turtles, tortoises, snakes)
- Amphibians (Frogs, salamanders)
- Hermit crabs
- Fish (Saltwater or freshwater)
- Birds (Parrots, parakeets, love birds, finches, canaries)
For People with a Smaller Living Space
If you’re an apartment dweller, there are a lot of different kinds of exotic pets that fit your living space. All these pets require a small cage, glass aquarium, or terrarium. Keep in mind that some of these pets are nocturnal, so you won’t want their cage or aquarium near your sleeping quarters.
- Pygmy hedgehog
- Guinea pig
- Sugar Glider
- Hermit Crab
All these pets are also great for people who can’t walk a dog or cat. If you live in the city and want a pet that you don’t have to walk, an exotic pet might be just right for you.
For People Who Travel
If you travel a lot and will leave a pet alone at home, you need one that is very low-maintenance and doesn’t require daily care. There are plenty of exotic pets that fit this bill. you need an exotic pet that doesn’t require daily care. They are:
- Hermit Crabs
- Fish, especially Beta Fish
For People Who Want a Pet with a Long Lifespan
Some people want a pet that they know will be with them for a long time. Often, these are people who have lived through the loss or losses of dogs or cats in their lives already, and they just don’t want to grieve the loss of another pet. They want their next pet to be for life!
Exotic pets are perfect for these folks. There are many exotic pets that live 20 years or longer – like the African Gray Parrot, which can live 30 to 50 years. Here are some of the exotic pets with long, long lifespans:
- Leopard Gecko – 15 years
- Ringed Turtle Dove – 20 years
- Box turtle – 25 to 35 years
- Ball Python – 30 years
- Blue and Yellow Macaw – 30 to 50 years
- Koi fish – 40 years
- Umbrella Cockatoo – 70 to 80 years
- Tortoises – 50 to 100 years
One pet that is not technically considered an exotic pet, but lives a long time, is a horse. Horses have an average life span of 20 years. Horses are a big commitment – they require a stall and a barn, a pasture large enough to meet their grazing needs, and regular exercise. But if you can meet those needs, a horse is a wonderful domestic companion for someone who wants a pet with longevity.
For People with Young Children
If you’re tired of your children begging for a dog when you can’t imagine you’d even have time to feed another mammal in your house right now, an exotic pet could be the perfect solution for you.
Exotic pets that are small and can live in cages or aquariums/terrariums are the perfect first pet for a child. The child will love to have the pet right in their room and will learn responsibility by taking charge of its care and feeding.
Exotic pets are also great ways for children to learn about biology and zoology – they have a unique example sitting right in their bedroom. Adults who own exotic pets say they are wonderful learning opportunities, and your children will learn from their exotic pets, too.
All Exotic Pets Have Specific and Particular Needs
One of the things that makes pets exotic is the fact that they’re so unique. Every pet listed here has a specific and unique need with respect to its habitat, its diet, its exercise, and its social needs.
For instance, a guinea pig needs to have timothy hay in its cage every day. Reptiles need their cages to be kept at a specific temperature. Parrots are very intelligent and social, and they need a lot of verbal interaction with their owners.
So, before you bring an exotic pet home, make sure you know what that animal’s specific and needs are, and make sure that you can meet them. If you can, you’ll have a pet that other exotic pet owners say is just as companionable, loving and fun as a “regular” pet!
Looking for more information about caring for exotic pets? Listen to this podcast with Dr. Jessica Clay and Dr. Brian Bourquin from Boston Veterinary Clinic! You can also book an appointment online for your exotic pet at Boston Veterinary Clinic!