3 of the Best Small Exotic Pets to Own
What Is the Best Exotic Pet to Own?
Are you interested in small exotic pets? Before you jump into ownership, there are some things you should consider. However, if you have done your due diligence and you are ready for the task, here are some fascinating facts about three of the very best small pets to own.
What is an exotic animal? According to local government in Mendocino County, California, “an exotic animal means any wild animal not customarily confined or cultivated by humans for domestic or commercial purposes.”
Let’s discuss which animals make the best exotic pets in terms of safety, happiness in captivity, and environmental responsibility.
Small Exotic Pets Dos and Don’ts
Before we talk about some of the best small exotic pets to own, let's explore some do's and don't's of owning an exotic animal.
- Do consider potential health issues like an animal-transmitted disease. The technical term is a zoonosis.
- Do check for local, state or federal laws or guidelines for ownership. Laws vary widely from state to state and may even conflict with federal or other guidelines. Protect yourself by doing your research.
- Do consider where the animal will be housed, how you will provide daily food and other care, and what you will do with the animal in case of a natural disaster, like fire, flood or tropical storms.
- Do ponder the ethics: is it humane for the animal? Could others be harmed by your ownership of an exotic pet? Are there potential long-term environmental effects? For example, will a species be perpetuated or diminished?
- Don't choose dangerous exotic pets that have the potential to transmit salmonella or venomous or constricting snakes, wild cats, or monkeys.
- Don't purchase animals from unreliable sources.
- Don't abandon or release animals; get them to a safe place like a rescue shelter or zoo.
- Don’t introduce exotic pets into homes where there are children under five because of the health risks of zoonosis or other injuries.
Pocket Pets Rock
1. Sugar Gliders as Pets
Sugar Gliders have a long history (approximately 14 years) of being safe and enjoyable exotic pets.
They are marsupials from the same family as Koala Bears (check out the facial resemblance) and originated in the rainforests of Australia and Indonesia.
What makes these cuddly little critters such awesome pets to own?
They’re low maintenance pets for grooming, feeding, housing, health care, and sanitation.
Incredibly loyal, they follow their owners from room to room like a dog, and can be trained to do many tricks.
One downside is the fact that they cannot be housebroken, but on the plus side, a six-ounce pet can only make so big a mess.
They are long-lived (about 14 years) and tiny (about six inches). Their nickname is "pocket pets," which tells you they will give you years of companionship without requiring much time or space.
These are good pets for seniors, singles, and families with older children or other pets.
Small Exotic Pets: Sugar GlidersClick thumbnail to view full-size
2. Ferrets as Pets: Pros and Cons
Unlike Sugar Gliders, ferrets are familiar pets, and many would not consider them to be exotic small pets.
Although they are domesticated, they are related to skunks, and trace their origins back to the European polecat. Neither dog nor cat, but something in between, they qualify as one of the best exotic pets to own.
These playful little pets chew, scratch, dig, smell and steal, but in spite of these minor idiosyncrasies, their intelligence and personalities make them highly popular.
The advantages of owning ferrets are they are easy to litter train and can be taught tricks, while the disadvantage is their rather short life spans—about eight years—and their odor.
These are good pets for families with no other pets, singles, or families with older children. Because of their high energy levels, they may be too high maintenance for seniors.
Ferret Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Train Your Fennec Fox to Sit
3. Fennec Foxes as Pets
If you’re looking for an exotic-looking exotic pet, the Fennec fox fits the bill.
They are diminutive in size—about two or three pounds—with gigantic ears that make them look like Yoda.
Be aware that these little bundles of energy keep you on your toes! Daily exercise is a must; however, they are easily trained to both litter box and leash.
These small, unusual pets are a fairly long-lived species and may survive about 10 years in captivity. The disadvantages of ownership are:
- They may damage property as they are voracious diggers
- They sometimes eat their litter
- They will bolt away from you outdoors if not kept on a leash
The best families for Fennec foxes are those without other pets or small children.
Images: Fennec FoxClick thumbnail to view full-size
Endangered Species and Small Exotic Pets
There are just three of the many small exotic pets that individuals enjoy owning. Before choosing any exotic pet, check its status on the endangered species lists as many popular pets such as some types of chinchillas or hyacinth macaws are currently on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
After you have done that, research all the legalities involved with owning small, unusual pets. When you've done all your homework, you are ready to choose the small exotic pet that will be the perfect fit for your family and lifestyle. With love, care, and commonsense ownership practices, any of these three exotic animals should provide a lifetime of joy and companionship.
However, if none of these quite fits the bill, you may want to consider an extremely exotic pet such as a Savannah Monitor lizard. While they are not the most cuddly of pets, they can give lots of companionship and satisfaction.
Is an Exotic Bird the Pet for You?
Bearded Dragon Lizard
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Mexican Red Leg Tarantula
- County of Mendocino, California, “Title 10 Animal Care and Control"
- Los Angeles Times, “Young Children and Exotic Pets are not a Good Match"
- Sugar Glider Information, “Thinking About Getting a Sugar Glider?”
- Ferret Central, “Ferret FAQ”
- Fennec Foxes, “The Fennec Fox,” accessed 07/15/2010
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2011 Donna Cosmato