Owning An Exotic Pet vs Owning A Regular Pet

Owning An Exotic Pet Vs Owning A Regular Pet

If you’re not a dog person but a snake or capybara person, there are many options available to you!

But it’s essential to know that owning an exotic pet can be quite different from a regular pet, such as a cat or dog.

Are any exotic pets domesticated?

Although they’re considered to be wild, some exotic pets can become like regular pets. The capybara is an example, since with enough love and care this rodent can become responsive to human care and love.

That said, there are some important things to bear in mind with any exotic pet that you wish to adopt.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most important ones, starting with legal issues surrounding exotic pets.


Is It Legal To Own An Exotic Pet?

little marmoset in hand

It might surprise you to learn that there are many exotic pets that are legal to own in the U.S., such as kangaroos and squirrels.

That said, it’s not legal across the board. It depends on the state in which you live and the type of exotic pet you want to own.

You can find detailed information about owning different kinds of exotic animals by visiting The Spruce Pets, such as that exotic pets are illegal in Hawaii whereas in Michigan you can’t own bears, wolf hybrids, or large cats, but other animals don’t even require a permit.

That just goes to show how much the laws can vary from one state to the next.

How To Feed An Exotic Pet

What does a capybara eat?

While feeding your cat or dog is pretty simple – you can purchase packaged dry or wet food that they love directly from your local supermarket – things can be a bit trickier when it comes to ensuring your exotic pets get the nutrition they need to be healthy.

Bearded dragons eat king worms, crickets, fruits and leafy greens. Ball pythons eat adult mice and rats. Hedgehogs need to eat food such as beetles, rodents, worms, and millipedes.

Not giving your exotic pet the correct food can lead to nutritional deficiencies and illness. For example, if you don’t give your pet capybara enough Vitamin C (in the form of supplements), they can get scurvy.

Bottom line: Feeding your dog or cat will be easier and more convenient than feeding an exotic pet, although that shouldn’t put you off the idea.

You just need to make sure that you’re clued up about their nutritional needs.

How To Set Up Their Enclosures

When you own a cat or dog, you can easily buy them a kennel and also let them roam freely around the house. But this is not always the case with exotic pets.

Some exotic pets, such as hedgehogs, should be kept indoors during the wintertime, but others need to have the proper outdoor enclosures in order to be healthy, especially bearing in mind that some exotic animals come from regions of the world where the climate is quite different from where you live.

They need to be kept in enclosures that ensure hygiene and offer a stress-free environment.

When purchasing an exotic pet that’s still a very young age, bear in mind how much it will grow as this is important to establish before you build an enclosure for it.

For example, a rock python can grow up to five meters while a baby terrapin that’s 2.5cm in its infancy can end up being larger than 30cm.

Bottom line: Only purchase an exotic pet if you’ve ensured they will have enough space on your property. However, the same goes for your cat or dog – they should have enough space to roam.

How To Regulate Temperature And Climate For Your Pets

Capybara temperature in pool

Exotic pets require you to make their new environment as happy and healthy as possible, and that requires some effort on your part.

While a cat, dog, and other domesticated pets such as bunnies, really don’t need much in terms of the climate, exotic pets that come from different climates will need to be given the right heat and lighting conditions.

For example, a pet reptile will need to have spotlights or basking lights that give them daytime light as well as heat.

However, choosing the right temperature and lighting conditions for your exotic pet isn’t just as simple as purchasing light bulbs and setting them up in the animal’s enclosure. You’ll have to experiment with them to find the perfect conditions.

Bottom line: Ordinary pets, such as cats and dogs, can be easier to own in this regard because you won’t have to worry about regulating the temperature and climate.

If you’re not the type of person who can invest time and energy into ensuring the right conditions for your exotic pet, then they’re probably not the best bet for you.

How To Keep Your Pets Healthy

keep your pet healthy

When your cat or dog gets sick, you can quickly take them to the nearest vet without a hassle. Same goes for other pets such as bunnies.

Sadly, this isn’t always easy when you have an exotic pet as not all veterinarians will be able to treat them.

Therefore, it’s important to check for vets in your area that will be able to treat the type of exotic pet you’re interested in buying before you go ahead and purchase them.

Bottom line: It can be trickier to find vets for exotic animals than it is for cats and dogs. In addition, it’s a good idea to ensure you have a main vet and then two extra contacts in case you have an emergency and can’t get hold of the first one, as The Spruce Pets advises.

How To Keep Yourself Healthy 

Pygmy marmoset in palm of a hand

Whenever you’re sharing your living space with an animal, whether domesticated or not, there is danger of infection.

For example, you can catch illnesses such as tapeworm and rabies from your dog, and you can get salmonella from reptiles because the bacteria is shed in their faeces.

It’s therefore important to do your research and learn about the exotic pet you want to purchase so that you know how to keep yourself safe, especially since some exotic pets such as snakes and spiders can be poisonous.

Bottom line: Your health can be compromised by any animal with whom you share a space, so you have to take precautions. Exotic pets are not always considered to be more dangerous than domesticated animals, even though we might assume they are.

For example, Live Science reports that they are responsible for 75 human deaths annually, while Max Sparwasser reports that there were 35 human deaths caused by dog bits in 2018.

How To Keep Your Pets Active

Bush Baby Pets

One of the things you need to take into account when you own a dog or cat is that it needs regular exercise.

This isn’t always an easy task, especially if you live in an apartment building or lead a busy lifestyle. This is where exotic pets shine – you don’t need to worry about walking them.

Bottom line: You should interact with your exotic pets daily, and ensure you look after them, but you don’t have to worry about hiring someone to walk them, which is a big bonus.

Related Questions

Are exotic pets a good alternative for people with pet allergies?

If you’re allergic to dogs or cats, choosing an exotic pet that doesn’t have fur, such as a turtle or snake, can be a wonderful way to still own a pet without the health problems.

Will your dog or cat live happily with exotic pets?

If you already own a cat or dog, you might wonder if your exotic pet will fit into the family. Animals like large tortoises will probably ignore cats, while cats and ferrets might actually bond, as PetMD reports.

Since most dogs are predatory, they should be kept away from small exotic animals.

Exotic Pets vs. Ordinary Pets – Which One Is Best?

Cat sneaks into Lynx enclosure

Exotic pets can be a challenge, but this is a good thing!

They’re definitely much more of a learning experience than owning a regular pet. Learning about them and how to take care of them will also increase your knowledge.

Exotic pets are fascinating and unique, and interactions with them can be an intense and satisfying experience.

However, there are some important things to bear in mind if you’re interested in purchasing an exotic pet.

Sometimes choosing a regular pet can be much more suited to you and your lifestyle, while adding a bit more convenience when it comes to factors such as their diet and living space.

It’s worth considering how much time, energy, and money you’re willing to spend to home an exotic pet as compared to an ordinary pet.

Whichever one you choose, make sure you give them a healthy, happy home!

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