Animal Family_iStock_000056319428_LargeMaybe a dog or cat just isn’t your style. Worry not; you may be one of the many Americans who enjoys exotic pet ownership. Whether it be a rabbit, ferret, parrot, or lizard, exotic pet ownership is more popular than ever.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center is your resource to learn all you need to know about exotic pets and their care. Keep reading to find out of exotic pet ownership is for you.

Knowledge is Power

If you have made the decision to walk on the wilder side of pet ownership, it is important to recognize how important knowledge about your selected species is.

The most common cause of health problems and dissatisfaction with exotic pets is a lack of understanding regarding their needs. When you decide to become a pet parent to one of these special critters, be sure that you know the following before taking the plunge:

  • What the life expectancy of the species is
  • What health conditions and diseases your pet is predisposed to
  • Whether there are human health risks such as Salmonella
  • What foods and household items may pose a danger to your new pet
  • If the species has any special environmental or nutritional needs

Many people choose pocket pets and other exotic animals as “starter” pets for children. This is not always the best, choice, however. Some types of exotic pets don’t like to be handled and may nip. These small pets have care needs as well and are often just as much of a commitment as a larger, more traditional pet.

Exotic Pets Have Special Needs

Just like any pet, exotic pets have basic needs that need to be fulfilled. Learn about your chosen species and look into what goes into good husbandry for your new pet.

  • Environment – Be sure to choose an enclosure large enough for your pet to move around and get some exercise. Does your pet need to climb, hide, or require a heat source? Individual pets will need different types of enclosures. A pet like a chinchilla needs room to jump, but a hamster will require less room. Be sure that your cage of choice is easy to clean and disinfect. Keep it in a draft free area that is out of sight of predatory animals, including your dogs and cats.
  • Bedding – Familiarize yourself with what types of bedding are most appropriate. Choose one that is nontoxic, minimizes dust, and will absorb waste. If your exotic pet exhibits nesting behavior or needs dust baths, be sure to provide proper materials for this as well. You will likely need to change the bedding a few times a week. Your pet’s enclosure should be disinfected at least weekly.
  • Nutrition – All pets need food and water. Be sure fresh water is available at all times. Be aware of any nutritional needs your pet might have, such as fiber requirements for rabbits or vitamin C for guinea pigs. Learn what fruits and vegetables make appropriate treats and be cautious with commercially prepared treats.
  • Interaction – Just because you have an exotic pet doesn’t mean it doesn’t need attention. Be sure to create a stimulating environment through toys, hiding areas, and chewing materials where indicated. Become familiar with your pet’s grooming needs as well.
  • Veterinary care – Exotic pets get sick too. It is important to find a veterinarian such as Animal Family Veterinary Care Center that is familiar with your species. Most exotic pets require some type of wellness care such as beak trimming or deworming as well. Contact us to find out more about what type of veterinary care your exotic pet needs.

Pocket pets and exotic animals are often small, but they require a lot of knowledge for proper care. Be sure to do some research prior to making a commitment. Many do have special requirements necessary for them to remain health. Never hesitate to ask, we are here to help you with any and all of your exotic pet care needs.