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.
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 PetYou 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).
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.
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.