Facts About Exotic Pets

exotic pets

What is considered an exotic pet depends on the context, but it is widely accepted that anything that is not a pet can be considered exotic. Companies, individuals, governments, and associations can all define what is an exotic pet in somewhat different ways. To some, a pet goat or ferret is exotic, to others it is just tigers and poisonous snakes. What is common to some people is not always so to others. In veterinary medicine, exotic pets are generally understood to be anything that is not a dog, cat, or farm pet.

The legality of exotic pets

Because each state has its laws and regulations for owning exotic animals, each state also defines what an exotic pet is different. This means that in some states it may be illegal to own certain types of exotic animals, while in other states you may be allowed to keep any type of animal as a pet. Most states make it illegal to own exotic animals that they consider invasive or dangerous to the environment or people, but some have other reasons for banning certain types of animals. If you are unsure if it is legal to keep a particular species where you live, be sure to check your state’s laws before purchasing the animal.

What animals are classified as exotic?

Generally, animals that are not domesticated are classified as exotic. This includes birds, fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and many pocket pets that are typically purchased at pet stores. Dogs, cats, chickens, cows, horses, goats, pigs, and other domesticated animals are not usually considered exotic pets. Rabbits, however, can be classified as both exotic and non-exotic. Exotic pets may also include certain wild animals, both native and alien species, that people choose to own and care for. The most common exotic pets include :

  • Rabbits (which may or may not be classified as exotic because they are a domesticated species).
  • Guinea pig
  • Hamsters
  • Chinchillas
  • hedgehogs
  • the sugar gliders
  • reptiles
  • birds
  • invertebrates (including tarantulas and snails)
  • fish
  • Non-domesticated predatory cats (including tigers and servals)
  • Non-domesticated canids (including wolves and foxes)
  • Raccoons
  • Coatis

Are exotic animals dangerous?

Some people are under the mistaken impression that all exotic pets are dangerous wild animals, but this is not the case. Many common exotic animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, are also called exotic pets because they can make wonderful pets. Many children have taken care of exotic animals like hamsters and goldfish, while their parents may not have even known that this category of animals existed. Nevertheless, some exotic pets are dangerous wild animals and can be very harmful to humans, the environment, or both. African giant land snails are a good example of a type of exotic pet that is dangerous to both humans (due to the diseases they can spread) and the environment, which is why it is illegal to own them in the United States. Many state laws are designed to protect people and the environment from harm caused by this type of exotic animal. Domestic dogs and cats can potentially bite or scratch people, as can some exotic animals. However, because they are not wild animals, they do not have the wild instincts of some exotic animals that can result in injury to humans.

Do veterinarians treat exotic pets?

Yes, some veterinarians treat exotic pets, but not all. Whether or not a veterinarian treats exotic pets depends on his or her well-being and training. Therefore, anyone interested in an exotic pet needs to find out which veterinarians near them are willing to treat the desired exotic pet.

There are veterinary specialties in the areas of zoo medicine, exotic mammals, birds, and reptiles. This means that veterinarians and veterinary assistants who have specialized in one or more of these areas have demonstrated advanced knowledge and training in these specific species. These professionals are often the best choice for exotic pet owners when looking for a veterinarian, but unfortunately, veterinarians specializing in these areas are not plentiful.

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