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Exotic pets, such as birds, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals (ferrets, hedgehogs, etc.) are still very popular. There are some caveats, however, that I would have you consider before your purchase. Exotic pets require much more time and labor than dogs and cats.

  1. Exotic pets require special diets. That may include fresh vegetables daily (iguana), frozen or even live prey (snakes, some lizards — will your mom or wife let you keep frozen mice in the family refrigerator?), special vitamins and minerals (all of them), fresh water (all of them), special pre-mixed food (ferrets), and even multiple misting each day (anoles).

    Pet FerretDo your research, check the prices of the foods, and get estimates of the price, and also the time that will be necessary several times a day to feed your new pet.

  2. Exotic pets require time. Cages must be cleaned daily. Birds can make a huge mess around their cages. Water must be changed. Food must be prepared. It is your responsibility to supply the correct food on a regular basis.

  3. Exotic animals require special housing. Terrariums for reptiles and amphibians must be kept at special temperatures and humidity. Some must have special wavelength of lights for part of the day. Some require environments at temperatures as high as 90° F and at the same time, temperatures as low as 65°.

  4. Exotic pets can live for a very long time. Some birds live longer than humans! Some tortoises live 50 years! If you have a small tortoise now, you will most likely be showing it to your grandchildren if you care for it properly. Are you prepared for having a pet that long?

  5. Exotic pets have special medical needs. Is there a veterinarian near by that specializes in the pet you are buying? Exotic medical care is often more expensive than the same care given to a dog or cat. Can you afford that care?

And finally, who will take care of the pet when you are away? I don’t know of any boarding facilities for snakes, hedgehogs, or birds, do you? And it takes a real friend to take on the responsibility.

If you are looking for a non-traditional pet, think three times, and do your research. Exotics can be very good pets, and ownership can be very rewarding if done correctly and responsibly. Good luck!