Should You Keep an Exotic Pet?

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I never realized that there was an exotic pet trade in our country.  But much to my dismay there are people that are in the business of importing and exporting wild animals for sale as pets.

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Come to find out exotic animals that are sold in this trade encompass reptiles, birds, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, tigers, monkeys and sugar gliders.  Many attribute the increase in the sale of exotic animals as pets to the latest trendy movie or TV show that showcase a wild animal as a pet.

Have you ever thought about keeping a wild animal as a pet?  Quite a few people have found an injured raccoon or a baby wild animal and take it in, in an effort to help it get better. People who do this have good intentions initially, but they often  find themselves falling in love with the animal and want to keep it as a pet.

Whether you buy a wild animal with the intention of keeping it as a pet, or if you take one in after finding it, it’s not a good idea.

Unfortunately, taking in a wild animal or buying one not only causes suffering to millions of animals but it also disrupts ecosystems, which eventually can lead to the extinction of entire species.  There are several other reasons why you should never keep a wild animal as a pet.

The salient fact that many people forget when they take in, or perhaps illegally buy a wild animal, is that as these cute little baby pets age, they become impossible to handle for even the best of pet owners. Wild animals just aren’t designed to live in a captive environment.

Most people, when they buy or find a wild or exotic pet, don’t realize how much special care these animals require. Their diets and maintenance needs are things that the average pet owner cannot provide.

If you have a dog or cat you know where to take them if they get sick and you probably know how expensive getting medical care for them is. Can you imagine if your tiger or monkey gets sick? Where will you take it for medical help?

It’s unlikely your local vet has experience treating animals who normally live in the wild. Furthermore even if they did know how to treat these types of animals the cost would be prohibitive.

Another huge problem with buying an exotic pet is that your once cute baby monkey or lion will quickly grow into an unpredictable adult.  They can become destructive, dangerous adults when held captive.


Also, they can carry highly infectious and potentially fatal bacteria and viruses such as rabies, salmonella, herpes B, and monkey pox. Another huge problem with an exotic pet is that often privately owned ones have escaped from their cages and have attacked humans and other animals, sometimes with fatal results.

Please note that the sale and possession of exotic animals is regulated by a conglomerate of not very well formulated federal, state and local laws. Currently 18 states prohibit possession of large bears, cats, wolves, and nonhuman primates as well as dangerous reptiles.

Another ten states have a partial ban, prohibiting possession of some exotic animals. Thirteen states require a license or permit to possess exotic animals. Many municipalities have adopted ordinances that are more stringent than the state laws.

Do yourself a favor and do not buy an exotic pet to begin with. They end up being sold to roadside zoos, or are dumped on humane societies or wildlife sanctuaries, putting an economic burden on those organizations.

Ultimately, the majority of these animals are euthanized, abandoned, or live out their lives in deplorable conditions.

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