Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Exotic Pet Issues

Making the commitment to own any pet takes a lot of careful thought and consideration. Unfortunately, with some exotic pets it is easy to get caught in the trap of thinking they are easy to care for, or less of a commitment than dogs and cats. Some exotic pets represent an enormous commitment of time and money, so it is important to really research and prepare if you decide on an exotic pet.

1. Impulsive Adoptions

When you spot an amazing, adorable creature at the pet store (or elsewhere) it is tempting to bring him or her home right away. However, resist this urge. Instead, go home and find out everything you can about this kind of pet. Then, give yourself a couple of days to decide with certainty that this is right pet for you and make sure you are not making any of the following mistakes. Also make sure you have the proper housing set up before getting the pet (see mistake number two).
2. Not Preparing a Home Before Getting a Pet
Coming home to a new environment is stressful and scary, and it will only be harder if your new pet has to stay in temporary housing while you get a cage or tank set up. Find out everything you will need, and get it all set up. Make sure temperatures and humidity are right, and when your new pet gets home, it can go directly into a proper environment. At this point, let your new pet settle in and explore its new home for a couple of days before trying to tame or handle your new pet.

3. Underestimating the Cost of Owning a Pet

You might find that some exotic pets do not cost a lot. However, you need to accurately assess the true cost including housing, equipment, and ongoing costs like food and supplies. Also do not forget to factor in veterinary care. Considering the full cost is especially important for reptiles, which are often inexpensive themselves. However, they often need large terrariums, heating, and lights (including expensive UVA/UVB lamps which must be replaced regularly).

4. Neglecting Veterinary Care

Many people have not factored in the cost of veterinary care and may try to avoid vet visits because of the cost. Many exotic pets are experts at hiding illness until they are in serious trouble (remember, not showing weakness is a natural defense mechanism), so if your pet is showing signs of illness you are best off getting to a vet as soon as possible. Routine check ups are ideal, and it is best to have a relationship with a vet before an emergency situation arises.

5. Not Researching the Legal Status of Pets

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. You risk losing your pets if you do not do your research on this one. Start locally and work up to the state/provincial level, then nationally. Do not rely on word of mouth or Internet sites (even this one!), as this is too important not to confirm in person. Sometimes the laws are outdated or unfair, but that does not help if your pet is seized. Advice on how to find out the correct information is found in the link above.

6. Rescuing a Sick or Mistreated Animal from a Pet Store

This one is really hard to avoid so is a really easy mistake to make. You might be tempted to ignore the above advice if you come across an animal in distress and feel the need to rescue it. Unfortunately, trying to rescue a sick animal may cost a lot in vet bills and emotional distress if you are unsuccessful. Additionally, the pet store, buoyed by the sale they just made, will likely just bring in more animals and treat them the same way. If at all possible, report animals in distress to your local humane society or authorities rather than taking them in yourself.

7. Not Planning Ahead

This one encompasses many of the previous points, but bears repeating. Owners need to consider how long their pet might live, and how they will cope with their pet's needs over their whole life span. This includes lining up veterinarians and pet-sitters, and being able to provide proper housing, food and care for the pet's entire life. Other things to consider what you will do with your pet during life's transitions including college, moves, marriages, and children.

8. Thinking Someone Will Take Your Pets if You Can't Care for Them

Finding a new home for an exotic pet is not as easy as many people think it will be, and the more "exotic" the pet the harder it will be. Most zoos are unwilling or unable to take former pets. Most shelters are not equipped to take exotics, and sanctuaries specifically for exotic pets are rare and often full to capacity already. Never assume that if you can't keep your pets, you will be able to find someone else to commit to caring for your exotic pets (and never just let them go, either!).

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