You’ve decided you aren’t a dog person. You aren’t a cat person, either. None of the ordinary pets spark your interest. Perhaps you love dogs and cats and other typical domestic pets, but can’t have one due to rental restrictions, allergies, time constraints, or other issues. Or you just want to have something different and exciting. You have many alternatives to choose from that you may not have considered before.
To determine if an exotic animal is right for you, you must consider your own limitations. Why don’t you want or can’t you have a domestic pet??
1. “I want a pet, but I can’t have ‘pets’ in my rental/homeowner’s association.”
Oftentimes, landlords and homeowners associations are willing to allow pets despite “no pets” rules. Landlords or HOAs do not want a resident to cause a nuisance or hazard to others or to the property. Dogs, cats, fish tanks, and birds can be very loud, destructive, or cause a health hazard if not cared for properly.
You can contact your landlord or HOA and seek special permission to get an animal that will not make noise, be kept in an enclosure, will not destroy property, and cannot cause a health hazard to other residents. Snakes, lizards, some turtles, frogs, and invertebrates are quiet, limit waste to their enclosures, don’t require significant amounts of water that can leak and damage property, and most do not carry diseases transmittable to humans.
2. “I wanta pet but I/my spouse/my child/my roommate/etc. have allergies.”
Many exotic pets have none of the dander that is commonly associated with allergies. However, extremely sensitive individuals should explore whether or not they are allergic to the food/feeders or beddings associated with the various exotic pets.
3. “I want a pet, I don’t travel, but I’m out of the house a lot and don’t have time to spend with an animal.”
Most domestic pets require a good deal of time from their owners, including time spent grooming, training, feeding, walking, and time for companionship. Most exotic pets do not require intense interaction with humans, and to some, like some amphibians, handling can be detrimental to the animal.
4. “I want a pet, but I travel a lot and can’t be home to feed and care for it.”
There are many species of snakes and lizards that do not need to eat daily. Some species can go weeks or months without eating, especially during hibernation periods.
5. “I want a pet, but don’t want a litter box, don’t want to pick up poop, and don’t want to have to walk it in the rain/snow/cold/heat.”
Everything that eats poops. It’s a fact of life. The more frequently something eats, the more frequently it poops. Animals such as snakes and carnivorous lizards often poop only after they eat, which can be once every few days to once every few weeks, significantly limiting cage cleaning.
If you don’t want to deal with poop at all, there are many choices that can live in Vivariums, self-contained ecosystems, and the poop is taken care of by microbes in the soil, plants, and small invertebrates that digest the poop for you.
6. “I want a pet that’s really cool and different, and/or like to watch ‘the cycle of life’ (in other words, like to watch it eat other stuff).”
There are endless choices for the “cool and different” factor. Depending on state and local laws and your personal finances and space available, you can choose from the largest of exotic mammals like tigers and bears, requiring acres of zoo-like enclosures, to the smallest of dart frogs that can be housed in a 12″x12″ tank.
Watching carnivores eat is an undeniable draw for some people. If that is part of the draw for you, there are many meat-eaters who can fit easily into a common household. If you happen to live with people who do not enjoy the “thrill of the kill”, some can even be fed meat products readily available in the grocery store. You can honor your desire for the “kill” in a more tolerable fashion as the animal eats salmon filet or chicken necks.
If the thought of watching that “cycle of life” is unsettling for you, choose an herbivore (plant-eater) or insectivore (bug eater).
7. “I have lots of time, don’t have allergies or rental restrictions, want companionship, AND want something cool and different and something that doesn’t eat meat.”
The time an animal requires is usually in direct correlation to the companionship provided. While choices like monkeys and lemurs are available, more common are sugar gliders, kinkajou, etc. or large birds like Cockatoos and Macaws. You can find many animals that will bond with you, and with whom you can (MUST) spend a great deal of your time. Consider the life span of the animal when making your choice. If you can’t commit to the next 50 years, avoid the large birds.
By now, you can probably determine whether or not an exotic pet is for you. Your next step is researching which exotic pet best fits your lifestyle. May you find joy and fulfillment with your pet of choice!