An article by Leilani Gallardo published in the USA TODAY on 7/24/2005 8:30 PM and updated 7/24/2005 6:44 PM, discusses the growing population of exotic pets.
"Need for care is rising
The increasing popularity of exotic animals as pets has boosed demand for the best health care available, prompting a lot of veterinarians to expand their practice from cats and dogs to birds, ferrets, rabbits and iguanas.
"The growth (in ownership of exotic pets) is likely because of the change in lifestyle," says Mayer. He says that as more people live in buildings that don't have enough room for traditional pets, smaller animals and exotics have become an alternative.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists exotic animals as fish, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, birds, gerbils, rodents, turtles, snakes, lizards, livestock, other reptiles and other animals.
According to a National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans own approximately 73 million dogs and 90 million cats, while ownership of exotic pets jumped to 18.2 million in 2004 from 16.8 million in 2002. But despite the popularity, pet owners have a hard time locating proper care for their exotic friends."
Gallardo also notes,
"Before you buy ...
The Humane Society advises a prospective pet owner to find out if proper veterinary care is available before buying an exotic animal.
The society's Richard Farinato says there are a lot of reports about exotic pets harming their owners because the animals were not placed in a proper environment or given the right kind of food."
Please consider following guidelines before accepting the responsibility of an exotic pet owner.
Be familiar with laws related to exotics, it is illegal to possess certain species.
Research the species of interest.
Purchase a good care guide, talk with your veterinarian and contact others who have the same pet. Understand the pros and cons.
Know the pets space requirements.
Will you be able to provide the required regular exercise?
How long will the pet live? Some species of reptile have very long life spans.
Can you handle the pet? Tarantulas may bite if they feel threatened and release hairs that can irritate your skin and eyes.
Is there a veterinarian in the vicinity who has experience with exotic pets?
Children and exotic pets rarely mix.
Will you be able to handle certain food? Exotic pets have specific dietary requirements, such as frozen mice or live locusts.
Consider the cost. Accommodation, food and vet bills may likely exceed the initial price of the pet.
Will the pet need company? Some species become stressed if kept alone, while other prefer solitary.