Would you keep a cat in a fish bowl? Or a hamster in a horse stable? Would you feed rabbit chow to your dog, or try to train a snake to sit? Yes, these are silly–even dangerous–things to do. Unfortunately, people do something similar when they keep unique animals as pets.
It may be easy to buy a wild animal, but it is not always a good idea. And although it may be borderline legal to sell some of these animals, in many places it is illegal to buy them.
Experts believe that it took at least five thousand years, and perhaps longer than ten thousand years, for wolves to evolve into dogs. So, there are thousands of years of difference between a wild and a domestic animal. Domesticated animals like dogs and cats don’t do well without people, and wild and exotic animals don’t do well with people.
In addition, the little we do know of the needs of exotic animals shows us that we simply cannot meet these needs in captivity. Many monkeys, birds, and wild cats, for example, all can travel several miles in a single day. A walk on a leash through the park won’t cut it. Since the vast majority of people who keep exotic animals cannot meet their needs, the animals may be caged, chained, or even beaten into submission. Sometimes, people will have an animal’s teeth or claws removed, so that the animal cannot harm the owner even when he does struggle.
Malnutrition, stress, trauma, and behavioral disorders are common in wild animals kept as pets. Unfortunately, getting medical care is extremely difficult–and not just because it may be illegal to have them. For one, many of nature’s unique animals hide symptoms of illness. And even when illness is suspected, finding a proper vet could require a visit to the zoo. It’s not easy to find a vet to treat your lemur’s herpes!
Wild species, by definition, are not domesticated and are unpredictable. Their behavior may change with seasons or life cycles in ways we don’t understand. They rarely bond with their owners. Pet primates, big cats and reptiles have attacked and seriously injured their owners, unsuspecting neighbors and bystanders.
Most people who buy exotic animals have no idea what they’re getting into. Eventually, the owner may realize it is impossible to meet the animal’s needs, and come to understand the inherent cruelty of keeping the animal captive. Even the most well-meaning person can become frustrated after trying to meet to high demands and special needs of a “pet” monkey for 30 years. But, what can a person do? Most shelters aren’t equipped to handle these animals. Reputable zoos won’t take them–and the dealer won’t take the animal back! There are a few sanctuaries for these type of animals, but space is very limited.
In the face of so few options, some people will set the animal loose–which is dangerous and illegal. The animal can spread diseases to native species, or could kill native animals and free-roaming pets. Setting the animal loose is also cruel to the animal, since it is not adapted for the habitat. Ultimately, local governments and taxpayers bear enormous responsibility when wild animals are set loose or escape and must be recaptured.
Even though the government does try to help, we have to rely on our own common sense and ethics to prevent the cruelty and damage that owning some exotic animal causes.
Your friend bought his pet sugar glider with him in the office and you find them cute and adorable. The next question would be, is it good to keep an exotic pet? Learn the list of good things about keeping exotic animals as pets as well as the bad things about it.
Is it good to keep an exotic pet? There is no right or wrong answer here–opinions vary. Keeping wild exotic pets can be appealing to many, but remember there are considerations and potential problems that go with it and it is important that you commit to the animal from start to finish. There are thousands of abandoned pets–unique or not–that owners gave up because they can no longer cope with the care required and needed. First, research the list of good things about keeping non traditional animals as pets as well as the bad things and prepare yourselves for the responsibility. Certain animals can be a real handful. That said, to some who find joy in caring for them, they could also be very sociable, friendly and adorable companions.
Would you keep your dog in a birdcage? Or your guinea pig in a fishbowl? Would you feed fish food to your cat, or train a python to sit? Silly isn’t it?–Dangerous even. Some say that keeping exotic animals as pets is unnatural and unethical and wild animals belong in the wild and not inside a cage in some suburban home.
Acquiring these animals may be easy in some places because it is legal to breed and sell exotic pets. But what do we really know about them? The difference between wild and domesticated animals is at least five thousand years. Not to say that people don’t care for them–it’s just that it is extremely difficult to give them their needs in captivity. Walking in the park is in no way similar to walking for miles to forage for food. Some owners even clip their pet’s claws to avoid accidents. Again, it is unnatural. The fact is–domesticated animals like dogs need humans while wild animals do not.
Malnutrition, trauma, behavioral disorder and stress are common problems owners find in caring for a unique pets. Unfortunately, some owners don’t realized that getting medical care for these unique pets is extremely difficult because a veterinarian with experience in wild animals is hard to find. In addition, because people have only been acquainted with these animals for just a short time, we still don’t know many things about them and their health.
Not all exotic animals are dangerous or destructive. They may have special needs and be more complicated to care for than domesticated animals, but most informed and committed pet owners can cope. Some of the exotic animals that are partially domesticated and do well in captivity are hedgehogs, ferrets, chinchillas, sugar gliders, bearded dragons, flying squirrels, prairie dogs, corn snake, leopard gecko, guinea pigs and pygmy goat.
Some advocates argue that all domesticated animals were all wild once–even dogs. So isn’t it alright to keep an exotic pet if that’s the case? If dogs can now sit and play dead on command, doesn’t it follow that black panthers will eventually do so too? (Yes but who has thousands of years to wait?) Sadly, it’s not that simple. The list of good things about keeping exotic animals as pets may be tempting and appealing, but consider this first; wild animals are unpredictable. Not to say that they will intentionally harm you, but there have been cases when owners, bystanders and unsuspecting neighbors have been seriously injured and attacked.
Is your pet unconventional?
Do people put you down because your pet isn’t a socially acceptable cat, dog or goldfish?
Do you prefer the companionship of a skunk, wallaby, emu, parrot, millipede, llama, exotic cat, monkey?
Do you have trouble finding information on how to properly keep your alternative pets?
Is it hard to find veterinarians, shelters, rescue groups or even food and pet supplies for your exotic pets?
Discrimination based on your choice of a pet is still discrimination. Even though many exotic pet species have been bred in captivity for a long time now, the laws still treat them like second class pets in some areas. They often blow isolated incidents out of proportion or treat those with exotic pets like criminals. They accuse pet owners of causing the decline of species, when in fact many endangered species are bred by private individuals and are declining due to habitat destruction. Some species have no chance other then captive breeding.
Vets are hard to locate at times and rescue groups are even scarcer. Zoos often will not take unwanted exotic pets nor help the owners learn how to care for them. Too many shelters that end up with an animal that is not a domestic dog or cat resort to euthanasia, because they are unwilling to allow a dedicated or qualified private individual adopt an animal they believe only a zoo is qualified to keep. Some wildlife rehab groups also would rather put the exotic pet or non-releasable animal to sleep rather then place it in a new home.
Are you tired of extremists making the word ‘pet’ a dirty word or animal rights groups who would rather see animals dead then kept in loving homes?
Its time for a change and education is the key…
Let’s help people understand and love our misunderstood alternative pets. (www.altpet.net)
Who Could Forget This?
A31-year-old New York man was charged with possession of a wild animal and reckless endangerment after authorities bagged a 400-pound tiger in his Manhattan apartment. Authorities discovered Ming, the 20-month-old Siberian-Bengal mix, after it bit Antoine Yates who got between him and a small kitten. Yates, first went to the hospital for treatment, but when medical personnel became suspicious he fled to another hospital were he tried to convince medical staff the had been bitten by a pit bull. Meanwhile, an anonymous caller–who feared for his own safety after he was left to care for Ming–contacted the Center for Animal Care and Control.
A team of animal control, police and Bronx Zoo workers were dispatched to track Ming in Yates’ fifth-floor apartment before the feline was tranquilized and removed. The tiger had been kept in the apartment since he was a 6-week-old cub. Ming went to an animal sanctuary in Ohio.
New York City law bans the owning of wild animals, and Yates was charged with possession of a wild animal and reckless endangerment. Yates, who now walks with a pronounced limp from his injuries, stated that he misses his friend. “My leg is not the problem,” he said. “It’s the pain in my heart that’s really bothering me.”
“If giving love is a crime, I guess I committed the greatest crime in the world.”