In the UK, it is becoming increasingly popular to own exotic pets. Animals such as bearded dragons, Ball pythons and African grey parrots are all examples of species which are being kept as exotic pets throughout the country. If this is something you are considering, however, it is so important to understand how to properly care for these animals compared to regular household pets like a cat or a dog.
They are wild animals
Cats and dogs have a history of domestication, whereas an exotic pet is an animal that has not been domesticated. Wild animals have adapted to their natural habitats, so keeping them in captivity in our homes can put their health and wellbeing seriously at risk. This doesn’t change even if an animal has been bred in captivity for keeping as a pet. It takes several generations and hundreds of years for animals to adapt and change to be comfortable to live inside our homes, they are still wild animals with different needs.
Exotic pets have complex needs
Despite some animals being listed as suitable ‘beginner’ pets, such as corn snakes, ball pythons, bearded dragons and Hermann’s tortoises, all of these animals live in extremely complicated environments. Exotic pets not only have extremely specific environmental and dietary needs, but also live in extremely complex social structures out in the wild. Not meeting these social needs can lead to stressed and aggressive pets.
Many people buying exotic pets do not understand how big they can grow, for example a Ball python can grow up to two meters long, and will need a home at least twice that size to live comfortably. However, keeping animals in small enclosures does not give them the opportunity to exercise or explore properly, and stay adequately stimulated.
Similarly, not enough research is done into the lifespan of exotic pets. Many species have lifespans of anything from 20-60 years. Without proper planning, it will be impossible for pet owners to keep pets comfortably throughout their life, and as a result many unwanted exotic pets are dumped. They can be extremely difficult to rehome, and since there are very few rescue centers equipped to handle exotic pets, especially longer-term, most abandoned exotic pets will die.
To care for your pet properly, make sure to spend a lot of time researching all of your pets individual needs and understand its feeding habits, find ways to recreate their habitats and socialisation environments to the best of your abilities.
Get Pet Insurance
Keeping your pets safe and healthy for so many years won’t come without its challenges. Just as you would buy pet insurance for your cat or dog with
It is technically legal to own any animal you like in the UK, as protection laws such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is set up to protect animals from unnecessary suffering, particularly that caused by intentional cruelty or neglect. So, if you are looking to buy an exotic pet make sure you know exactly what it needs. So many exotic pet owners don’t know how to tell if their animal is suffering, so make sure you research your exotic pet properly before taking the leap. Understand its eating habits, environmental and social needs and do everything you can to accommodate for these.