Exotic Pets Nutrition And Diet Tips And Tricks

Exotic Pets Nutrition And Diet Tips And Tricks

When you have a domestic dog or cat, feeding it is a breeze – you can simply pick up some renowned pet food from your local supermarket and be sure that you’re giving it everything it needs to stay healthy.

If you’re interested in purchasing an exotic pet, however, you’ll have to first consider its specific dietary requirements so that you can ensure you give it a healthy life, and this is not something to take lightly.

Food is one of the most important, crucial factors when owning an exotic pet as incorrect diets are a common reason why these pets fall ill.

What should you feed your exotic pet?

Exotic pet food doesn’t come standard. Every exotic pet will have its own nutritional needs, and sometimes these can be complicated to get right before you get the hang of them. Once you start feeding your exotic pet, you’ll need to monitor its health to be sure that its diet is balanced enough and it’s receiving all the nutrients it needs from food.

However, don’t feel too overwhelmed because we’ve compiled this guide to help you.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to feed your exotic pet so that It will be in the healthiest condition possible.  

What Kind Of Food Do Exotic Pets Need To Eat?

What Kind Of Food Do Exotic Pets Need To Eat?

You can prevent many health problems in your exotic pet just by getting their diet right on a daily basis.

What foods exotic pets need will vary depending on their species, but generally you need to ensure that you give your exotic pet a good mix of the following things:

Food They’d Eat-In Nature

You might be wondering if you should give your pet the type of food that closely resembles what they’d find in the wild.

For example, if your pet lynx eats meat in the form of animals it hunts, replicating this habit by giving your wild cat meat is a good plan, right?

This is usually a good idea, but it’s often not enough on its own.

The reason why is because exotic pets will require extra supplements to their diet so that you can ensure that they’re getting everything they need.

For some exotic pets, such as birds, feeding them what they’d find in the wild can be even trickier than with some other exotic pets.

This is because it’s really tough to copy the exact diet that the animals would enjoy in the wild, and this is made even more difficult when their diet depends on the country in which they’re found.

If your exotic pet isn’t indigenous to your country, this can make things complicated because how would you find exactly what they’d hunt or scavenge to eat?

To tackle this problem, exotic animal owners will have to purchase formulated diets and supplement them with some other items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables in the case of birds.

Pelleted Food

Pelleted Glider Food

Generally, most exotic pets that are kept in captivity will require food that’s commercially formulated to meet their needs in addition to the food that’s similar to what they’d eat in the wild.

This food is usually in the form of pellets. This commercially-purchased pet food definitely makes it easier to ensure your pet is eating a healthy diet because it will contain the correct nutrients.

Vitamin Supplements

However, pelleted food isn’t always enough for exotic pets.

They sometimes require vitamin supplements, but these don’t come standard for every animal.

Some exotic animals will require certain supplements to keep them healthy that others won’t.

For example, sugar gliders need to be given calcium to prevent them from getting hind leg paralysis from a deficiency of this nutrient, and bearded dragons also need this important nutrient on a regular basis.

On the other hand, indoor monkeys should be given Vitamin D because they will lack this nutrient from not getting sun from being outdoors.

Dietary Plans For Different Exotic Pets

With the above points in mind, here’s a dietary guide rundown of eight popular exotic pets and what foods they require.

Fox

Preparing Chicken Hearts

When they’re adults, foxes require between one to 1.5 pounds of food on a daily basis.

This should consist of canned food that you’d give to your dogs because it will meet their needs.

However, some foxes, such as the fennec fox, need to be given an extra boost of taurine to prevent health problems from developing.

This nutrient is found in chicken hearts.

You can and should supplement your fox’s diet with insects, such as beetles, mealworms, and crickets, which they like to eat in the wild.

This provides them with a balanced diet.

Sugar Glider

This small marsupial is an omnivore that gets its name because of how it likes to eat sap from trees, such as the eucalyptus tree, as well as pollen.

To copy this when you have a sugar glider in captivity, you need to give it some fruit, but avoid giving it too much.

This is a common mistake many glider owners make.

The important thing is to ensure that most of your sugar glider’s diet consists of pelleted food that’s been made for sugar gliders.

It will also contain nectar that they like, which is a bonus.

Once you’ve got pelleted food for them, add some protein to their diet, such as in the form of cooked crickets and mealworms, as well as some green vegetables that the sugar glider will like to have as snacks.

Wild Cats (such as lynxes, ocelots, servals)

Preparing Raw FIsh

If you want to own a wild cat, you’ll have to be prepared to give it meat daily.

You might not be able to replicate the type of prey that your cat would find in the wild, but you can give them excellent protein alternatives.

For example, good choices are fish, rodents, and rabbits. Serval cats might also need a supplement that contains calcium and taurine.

A good choice for any wild cat is to give it a commercial feline diet that has been made specifically for non-domestic carnivores.

Important Tips When Feeding Carnivores

If you own an exotic pet that’s a carnivore, such as a wild cat, your tendency might be to only feed it meat.

This can have some dangerous consequences, mainly because feeding your carnivore nothing but meat can cause it to lack the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio that it needs.

This ratio needs to be 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. The problem with meat is that it flips this ratio around, and that can cause illnesses in the exotic pet.

A notable one worth mentioning is metabolic bone disease that can lead to osteoporosis.

A diet that only contains meat can also damage the carnivore’s teeth because meat is not sharp enough for them to chew, so it doesn’t clean the animal’s teeth.

This can lead to an accumulation of plaque on the teeth, leading to dental disease.

Based on the above considerations, what changes should you make to your carnivore’s diet?

When feeding them meat, make sure you also give the animal bones to eat as this will help them to keep their teeth healthy.

In addition, bones can improve the calcium to phosphorus ratio we mentioned earlier.

Another important thing you might not realize is that carnivores should also have access to grass that they can eat.

While these animals focus on meat-based diets, they do sometimes want to eat a bit of grass. In the wild, they eat grass that’s in the stomachs of their prey.

They need this fiber to keep their gastrointestinal tract healthy. Always make sure that there’s grass available for the carnivore in its enclosure should they require it.

Capybara

Fresh Melon

This large rodent needs to have a diet that’s filled with lots of grass, water plants, and vegetables such as melon and squash.

Grass is of special consideration and should be in a large supply because capybaras can eat up to eight pounds of it every day!

They especially like grass hay (top picks are Timothy hay and Orchard hay) that you can buy from your local pet store.

Capybaras also need to be given Vitamin C so that they don’t fall prey to scurvy.

To ensure you feed them enough of this crucial vitamin, you can give them guinea pig pellets that are enriched with it.

Monkey

Monkeys like meat and plants in the wild, so you have to enrich their diets with a range of different foods, such as insects, fruits, nuts, small lizards, and seeds.

One of the most important additions to their diet is monkey biscuits that are formulated for the monkey’s health requirements.

In fact, this is something you should always ensure you have available for your pet monkey.

When it comes to supplements, if your monkey spends a lot of time indoors, you’ll have to ensure it gets a Vitamin D supplement.

Weasel

Mice In Nature

It might surprise you to know that weasels are carnivores, so you’ll have to fill their diet with meat such as mice, birds, rats, and rabbits – and keep it coming because weasels have a high metabolic rate and can eat up to 40 percent of their body weight every day!

They sometimes also like to hide their food so that they can eat leftovers at a later stage.

You might need to supplement their diet with nutrients if they don’t get enough of a balanced diet from their food alone, especially since they are carnivores.

Bearded Dragon

This popular reptile needs to have its diet as similar to what it would eat in the wild.

Top picks include meat such as crickets, locusts, earthworms, and silkworms.

You should also give it some leafy green vegetables and fruits to add extra nutrients.

It’s important to sprinkle a calcium supplement over your bearded dragon’s live food twice a week.  

Ball Python

This snake is a popular reptile for beginners because it’s quite easy to look after.

Younger snakes should eat about once a week, and older ones can go for a few extra days than that before needing food.

That doesn’t mean you can feed them any kind of protein, though. You should feed your ball python crickets and pinkie mice.

As it gets older, it will need larger prey. Adult snakes will need to be fed adult mice as well as rats.

Ball pythons don’t require mineral or vitamin supplements, however attention must be paid to feeding them rodents that were healthy to ensure that they get the nutrients they need.

Where To Find Information About Your Exotic Pet’s Diet?

Baby otters

As you can see from the exotic pet species’ diets that we’ve outlined in the above section of this article, the diet you feed your exotic pets will vary quite a lot depending on the type of exotic pet you own.

This is why it’s important to do your research before purchasing the pet you’re interested in keeping at home.

Not only will you be better informed to give your exotic pet what it needs from its diet, but you’ll also see if you can afford the type of diet that’s required for it.

There are various ways in which you can find information about your exotic pet’s diet. Here are some to consider.

Consult with an exotic pet vet

The most important thing to do is consult with a veterinarian who is experienced with exotic pet care.

They will be able to answer any questions you might have and help you set up a balanced and healthy eating plan for your exotic pet.

For example, if you own a wild cat, your exotic pet vet will be able to inform you of whether or not your cat requires extra taurine, as is the case for wild cats such as servals and others.

As you start caring for your pet, you’ll also be able to consult with this veterinarian when your pet shows signs of being ill or of experiencing nutritional deficiencies, which is great as they will then be able to guide you when it comes to adjusting your pet’s diet.

For example, when it comes to capybaras, you’ll be able to see if your pet isn’t getting the right diet by paying attention to its faeces.

If its faeces is any other shape other than olive-shaped, then that’s a sign the capybara’s diet is not balanced and your vet will be able to help you infuse your pet’s diet with the correct nutrients.

Do online research

Couple Searching Online

Another important thing you should do to find information about your exotic pet’s diet is to conduct your own research.

There are many online resources you can find that will increase your knowledge of these interesting animals.

A website worth checking out is Mazuri, a company that provides exotic animal nutrition for a variety of species.

They also have a handy “Ask the expert” section so that you can gain a deeper understanding of your pet’s specific health needs.

Read books

There are also valuable books you can read.

A good place to start is with The Exotic Pet Handbook by David Alderton (available from Amazon).

It provides information on various exotic pets, including how to take care of them, which makes it an excellent book for beginner exotic pet owners to read.

Additional Tips For Exotic Pet Nutrition

Now that we’ve looked at some in-depth points to bear in mind when it comes to looking after and feeding your exotic pet, there are some additional tips to know.

Stick to the same diet

Fox foods

While you can mix things up for your exotic pet, such as by adding a few different kinds of insects to your fox’s diet or giving your lynx a frozen meat popsicle to keep it cool and offer a stimulating treat in the summertime, the main elements of your pet’s diet should always stay the same.

This is important because small changes can be harmful to your exotic pet’s health.

Avoid feeding your pet toxic foods

When researching what foods are safe and recommended for your exotic pets, it’s also important to know what toxic foods to avoid giving them.

For example, while sugar gliders might like some fruit, you should never feed them fruit pits or apple seeds as these are toxic to them.

Similarly, you should never feed your pet fox grapes or raisins as these can cause kidney damage.

Make sure you speak to your vet about any foods you should avoid, and also conduct online searches on this topic.

Know how often to feed your exotic pet

You can’t just put food down and leave it there for your animal to eat.

Just like with domesticated animals, exotic pets can experience health problems if they eat too much or too little.

Therefore, find out how regularly throughout the day your pet should be given food.

This can vary quite a bit from one type of exotic pet to another.

For example, you should feed your sugar glider and bearded dragon once a day, while your pet monkey should be fed three times a day and be given snacks every few hours.

How to feed your pet

man feeding capybaras with carrots

Not all exotic pets are small enough to stay in cages and like eating from food bowls.

Some will have other requirements, so it’s not just what you feed your exotic pet but how it likes to be fed.

For example, if you own an ocelot, it will want to eat meat that’s been ground, as well as organs such as beef heart, instead of meat provided in other ways.

On the other hand, squirrels like to be fed in bowls that are placed on the ground or from squirrel feeders.

Make sure you research how your exotic pet likes to eat so that you can give it its food in the most suitable way for them.

After all, it’s no good if you’re giving your exotic pet the right type of food but they’re not eating it in the best way for their health.  

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for an exotic pet, you might feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to caring for and feeding it.

There are many different things to bear in mind, and not all exotic pets will be able to eat the same food.

It might also be more expensive or time-consuming to ensure that they have the right food every day.

In this way, domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are much easier to feed because you can simply purchase bags of their food at the local supermarket and not have to worry about the issue.

It’s clear that there are many different exotic pets to choose from, and they all have different dietary requirements.

In this article, we’ve outlined some dietary tips recommended for various pets, such as foxes, ball pythons, bearded dragons, capybaras, and more.

In addition, we’ve looked at some important tips you need to follow when feeding your exotic pet to ensure it stays healthy.

The most important thing you can do before bringing your exotic pet home is to arm yourself with as much information you can surrounding its care.

You can do this by chatting to an exotic animal veterinarian, reading books, and conducting online searches.

The more knowledge you have about your exotic pet’s requirements, the better you’ll be to give it the diet it needs.

And, although it can seem overwhelming at first, exotic pets diet is something you can get the hang of once you commit to keeping your lovely unusual pet happy.

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