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5 Irrefutable Arguments That Support Exotic Pet Ownership

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

Review some of the arguments that support private exotic pet ownership.

Review some of the arguments that support private exotic pet ownership.

Pros of Owning Exotic Pets

The follow are the five best arguments for preserving the rights of people to own exotic pets privately, in my opinion.

  1. If you support keeping birds, reptiles, or cats as indoor pets, you already support exotic pet ownership.
  2. Is keeping exotic pets selfish? So what! Keeping any pet is selfish.
  3. Exotic pets do not harm the environment any more than domestic pets.
  4. Any animal of a certain size can bite.
  5. Bans only eliminate problems by eliminating animals.

1. If you support keeping birds, reptiles, or cats as indoor pets, you already support exotic pet ownership.

Many people believe that exotic animals have not adapted to being kept as pets in the same way that domesticated species have. Well, the truth is that no animal has! There is little or no difference between subjecting a domesticated pet or an ‘exotic’ pet to captivity. The quality of the captive situation varies as does the species being subjected to it.

It is often the case that those who oppose exotic pet keeping on the grounds that they are ‘unsuitable for captivity’ do not logically consider the welfare of traditional pets, applying their same logic.

Domesticated cats are probably the most popular animal kept as pets on Earth, and at least within the USA, it is a common practice to keep cats exclusively as house pets, which is a practice (intelligently), promoted and recommended by many vets, animal rescues, and animal rights organizations for the safety of the cat as well as outdoor wildlife. But no cat is ‘built’ to live inside a house (consider learning more about proper indoor enrichment).

Many behavioral and physical disorders that are seen in cats are often secondary to stress from lack of appropriate stimulation.

— AFFP Position Statement

These misconceptions arise due to the domestication myth—a notion that makes people believe that domesticated animals are biologically or mentally suited for living in a modern indoor household while that could never be acceptable for a 'wild' animal (although not all exotics are kept inside). In actuality, the same conflicts that exist for exotic pets also exist for domesticated animals.

In fact, considering their extreme popularity, it can be argued that domesticated animals may be worse off. Domesticated animals are overbred and many are invasive species. Just like wild animals, pet birds (an exotic pet that sometimes may not be considered as such), hamsters, and indoor cats require, and unfortunately often do not receive, a mentally stimulating environment, socialization relevant to their species, and an outlet for their energy.

The wild relatives of domesticated cats aren't tigers and lions, This is a wildcat, and not much has changed.

The wild relatives of domesticated cats aren't tigers and lions, This is a wildcat, and not much has changed.

It is not realistic to assume that all cat keepers are aware of the commitment involved that should be carried out with all pets in captivity—in fact most people view cats as 'easy care' pets that don't require much attention from the owner. Many indoor cats have behavioral problems, weight gain, and neurosis as a result...which is not unlike what occurs with inadequately cared for exotic pets or zoo animals.

Therefore, people who approve of pet cats (or dogs, small reptiles, ferrets, ect.) being kept as pets cannot declare any moral superiority over people who keep exotic pets, because both 'trades' have the same exact conflicts. The severity of the problem may vary in extent (i.e. a monkey may have more significant problems in captivity than a tabby), but a ‘lesser evil’ is still an evil.

Note: There are those who believe that cats should never be kept exclusively indoors (a dominant belief in some places like the UK), a belief in favor of encouraging a destructive invasive species (another conflict associated with the exotic pet trade), unnecessary killing native wildlife, and spread of disease to wildlife and humans via fecal contamination.

2. Is keeping exotic pets selfish? So what! Keeping any pet is selfish.

Selfishness is inherent to every organism. In fact, it is humans that have invented the concept of selfishness and have set criteria for attempting to avoid the poorly viewed attribute while no other animal has. Lack of excellence in selflessness leads many people to believe humans are the scum of the Earth, despite no other animal even taking a monk-like lifestyle into consideration.

Humans consume. We build large, resource-consuming homes that we don’t need on top of the homes of hundreds of other animals. We then continue to build more of these structures for frivolous pleasures: nail salons, restaurants, Build-a-bear workshops—you name it—a resource-consuming structure will be built for it.

And then to top it all off, we keep millions of human-engineered carnivores that must subsist on the deaths of other animals…but if I pick an uncommon pet, all of the sudden I am viewed as extra selfish. I think my selfishness level does not exceed that of most modern people.

Some people like to claim that keeping exotic pets will save them in the wild but I think that’s untrue in most cases, so I apologize for that on their behalf even if they don’t agree with me. The reason people may be saying this is to salvage any possibility that their beloved animals won't nonsensically be made illegal.

Exotic pet owners keep exotic pets for the same reasons that domesticated animal owners keep domesticated pets, which is the hope of a symbiotic relationship with their creature of choice. No one intends to harm animals by keeping them as pets even though this can unintentionally occur. Since that is not our intention, and since it’s perfectly feasible that an exotic pet can thrive in captivity, the act of keeping pets is not immoral. Exotic pets may also have the advantage of receiving individualized attention, unlike many zoo animals.


3. Exotic pets do not harm the environment any more than domesticated pets.

Most exotic pets do not pose a threat to the environment and those that don't have as severe of a footprint as many domesticated pets.

Keeping in mind that lack of being more damaging than another type of animal is not by any means meant to be taken as an attempt to make light of the negative environmental impact that some of our pet-keeping decisions are responsible for, the most popular pets in America that are recommended as moral alternatives to exotic pets are indeed the most damaging to the ecosystem. And not just in the United States, but worldwide (think feral dogs, cats, pigeons, swine). The garden plant trade is also equally damaging.

It is rather astounding that owners of bonafide invasive species would become enraged that some exotic pets have also become invasive. The Burmese python is the most popular animal that people complain about; however, despite the severity of the nuisance, its presence is restricted to one region in Florida (they cannot survive in most states).

The domesticated cat is established in all 50 states, and there is a powerful lobby to not only stop cat removal for the protection of wildlife, but currently owned pet cats are routinely released to add to the devastation of invasive feral cats which include excessive small animal predation, diseases spread by feces to wildlife, and adding to the number of animals that motorists have to swerve past to avoid emotional upset.

It is becoming crystal clear that many things humans do as mere hobbies and pleasure have negative impacts for our world, but laws seem to be made only when people are wrongfully intimidated by something. Exotic pets are singled out due to lack of cultural acceptance only. Also keep in mind that there are no mammals from the exotic pet trade that are currently invasive in U.S.

4. Any animal of a certain size can bite.

How many times have you heard of an animal, let’s say an exotic cat or monkey, biting someone in the news? Generally, the first reaction a typical person has is “of course! What do you expect from a wild animal like that!?” But dogs and cats bite too. A lot. It is estimated that 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year (!) with insurance companies paying more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims annually.

And I’m not one of those people who say ‘Chihuahuas bite more than pit bulls!’—failing to realize that a pit bull bite is far more severe than a little dog’s. Not only do domesticated animals hurt people, but they kill too.

Animals don’t even need to attack to hurt or kill. Horses, cows, and other large herbivores have caused deaths because of their sheer mass alone, and countless injuries that would never make the major news unless a celebrity was the victim. Why do people tend to overlook this strikingly obvious fact about the nature of all pets?

Some say that the difference between "wild" pets and domesticated pets is that the former are inherently dangerous. This is partially true, it is far more dangerous to be locked in a cage with any tiger picked at random compared to a random canine.

But generally, humans are intelligent enough to treat each species accordingly with the present danger. Tigers will not be kept in living rooms and dart out the front door when the owner leaves. In fact, despite the vivid imagination of law makers, no ‘pet’ big cat has escaped and attacked a member of the "uninvolved" public (people who aren't the owner, or voluntarily visiting the animal) in the U.S.

Despite the small number of bad scenarios involving exotics, people still hold exotic pet owners, as a whole, 100% responsible for every incident individual owners cause, but dog owners are never blamed for attacks and fatalities caused by other dog owners (this means that there would have to be zero exotic pet-related incidences in order to ease people’s fears, and sometimes even that isn’t enough!).

So basically, the logic being exercised here is that since domesticated animals are not supposed to bite or kill humans, their consistently occurring attacks and even fatalities are not relevant, and only reflect on the individual. If a 3-year-old child is attacked and killed by their parent’s dog who has "never shown any aggression before," the child is somehow less dead than if killed by a wolfdog.

Despite expectations, will unforeseen deaths by domesticated pets ever end? Of course not. But these animals still maintain more acceptance as pets than exotic pets like small wild cats that have no human fatalities on record. The presence of wild-looking spots still unnerves most people more than rowdy dogs kept loosely confined in backyards. While not all dogs are attackers, you don’t know which ones are, and that alone heightens the danger.

People who seek to resolve the perceived public safety threat of exotic pets are hardly saving many human lives by proposing bans. If preserving the safety of the public is the ultimate goal, efforts would be better spent addressing large domesticated animals, which are a bigger threat due to how they are traditionally kept. As for occupational or personal risk, high-risk extreme sports are similar to situations where people choose to interact with dangerous animals.

5. Bans only eliminate problems by eliminating animals.

It’s true, there are problems with the exotic pet trade, and I’ll never hesitate to admit this. There are also problems with the trade of all animals. From rats to dogs, to goldfish, to cats, despite how easy it might seem to care for these animals, there are people who will acquire them and will cause them to have a poor quality of life and/or premature death. Banning the ownership and breeding of these animals will solve these problems! But is that the right thing to do?

Closing Thoughts

Where should we draw the line with what is in need of being eliminated to provide an instant resolution to the bad stuff associated with it? If you hate that people keep exotic pets, it’s easy to be optimistic about them being forced into extinction. I would certainly enjoy a law that would prohibit people’s attempts to ban my pets and lifestyle, but I know that wouldn’t be ethical.

People have the right to free speech and to push their laws, but I wish they would consider the unfairness of targeting exotic pet owners. I’m sure there are exotic pet owners out there whose care and expertise could appeal to even the most diehard anti-captivity advocate, and since they exist, the right to keep alternative pets is worth protecting.

Are Captive Exotic Animals Dangerous?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Melissa A Smith


John Doe on June 15, 2020:

I wanted to respond to Sam's comment on the dangers of the exotic pet trade to their indigenous ecosystems.

What you said is very true, when endangered species are taken from their natural habitat the ecosystem does suffer. It is very wrong to poach like this, and it should not ever be supported.

However, the conclusion that because some animals are endangered, and when removed from their habitat the ecosystem suffers greatly, all exotic animals must be banned is faulty reasoning. I agree full heartedly that cheetahs taken from their natural habitat harms the ecosystem, and I will repeat how much I agree with that time and time again, but it is also important to remember that not all exotic animals are endangered. For example, only one type of Capuchin monkey is on the endangered species list:

I'm not advocating for the removal of any animals from their native habitat, but what I am trying to bring light to is the fact that simply because a pet is exotic, it is not always true that it is endangered.

The common exotic pet owner, if exotic pet ownership were to become normal, would not purchase (legally) exotic animals from poachers anyhow. It is illegal to poach animals, if you were unaware, and any trade of any poached animal carcass or young is also a serious offense. Additional legislation wouldn't even be necessary to deter the average exotic pet owner from purchasing poached animals due to the laws already in place.

The average exotic pet owner would get their pet from where they already do: from breeders in their country. In the United States where exotic pets are legal the USDA regulates the sale and origin of the exotic pet that is to be sold or adopted. Oftentimes the breeders even have pedigrees for their animals.

So yes, taking animals from their native habitat is wrong and endangers the ecosystem in the cases where the animal is endangered, but no it does not justify a blanket ban of any animal that is abnormal (not a cat or a dog).

Maybe, just maybe, it is the sheep-like parroting of people like you, Sam, that is uneducated and unfounded. (Did you see the double animal pun?)

I know Sam may never see this, but I wrote it anyway so that people who come across this in the future may see a more logical answer.

TLDR: Poaching of endangered species is bad but does not justify a blanket ban on anything that is not a cat or a dog.

person on April 27, 2020:

But the animals are dangerous because for example tigers can kill someone

Drusk33t on April 21, 2020:

On a side note.. Im not necessarily against exotic pet ownership. Especially if the animal is well cared for. I was hoping to get a little more information.

Drusk33t on April 21, 2020:

This article reads more like anti domesticated pets than it does pro exotic pets. You say their's 5 arguments for exotic pet ownership, yet you're only giving me 1 and then you rehash the same point.. We get it!! Its still a form of "animal imprisonment" to keep a domestic cat/dog/whatever. Do you have any reasons you can give me that dont boil down to "keeping a lion is the same as keeping a caliko"... like can you give me any reasons why its actually beneficial to the animal? (And duh... its obviously better than killing them)

angel peters on March 29, 2020:


ovsd on March 11, 2020:

really inertesting

jaiden on February 28, 2020:


Splashstorm on February 06, 2020:

Where was the graph that you had that showed where most people were attacked-- like in zoos vs USDA licensed pets, etc.?

nonono on January 15, 2020:

jk it is fine

Sam on May 13, 2019:

Sorry I made a typing error. I meant to say "It doesn't matter if you'll take good care of your "pet" because the animal most likely was (when it was captured and being transported) unable to eat, move, and behave properly."

Sam on May 12, 2019:

If you have an exotic pet, you are most likely promoting the exotic pet trade. Why? Because smugglers will keep on going back to the animals to make more money. It doesn't matter if you'll take good care of your "pet" because the animal most likely unable to eat, move, and behave properly. The exotic pet trade also damages food chains and ecosystems. For instance, when Cheetahs are captured, there's more prey. This means there's less vegetation which means animals that rely on the vegetation die. Not only those animals die, the the predators that rely on those animals die.This then ruins the whole ecosystem. Also, 70% of Cheetah cubs die when being taken and usually the mother is killed (other mothers in others species are killed too). I guess there can be some expectations, but that's probably very small. If we educate people on the harms these animals can cause to humans, people will most likely stop buying these "pets" which means the smugglers can't sell anything. I hope some education will help you all.

anonymous on May 10, 2019:

people should be allowed to own wild animals if they take care of them if they are going extinced they should breed them to help

kitty wow on April 01, 2019:

I have a tiger! is it safe?

ur mom on March 18, 2019:

copy and paste

mrmicman36 on March 05, 2019:

im impressed that u know how to put fake info.

Galaxy gamer fox 34 on March 05, 2019:

thanks for having this article it helps me for my school presentation. thank you so much Melissa A Smith!!!!!!

Galaxy gamer fox 34 on March 05, 2019:

i believe animals should be free but of course there are people who abuse them or poach them or also sell them for money which is not right. so its kinda confusing if we should let them go but they could get captured or something bad happens.

Galaxy Gamer fox 34 on March 05, 2019:

i named my fox Funtime foxy my favorite fox in FNAF

Galaxy gamer fox 34 on March 05, 2019:

i dont ever want to abandon my fox because of poachers, wolves and people who abuse their pets.

Galaxy gamer fox 34 on March 04, 2019:

My fox belongs somewhere to be free but when she was little she got bit by a wolf and i saved her when she was getting hurt so from now on ive kept her safe

Galaxy gamer fox 34 on March 04, 2019:

i love foxes i even have one sleeping in my gaming section where i do youtube vids my fox is the best shes very fast and she likes to play outside.

anonymous on February 25, 2019:

great article i have a tortoise and it doesn't hurt anyone. Any animal can be kept as long as it is properly cared for

Dude on February 20, 2019:

Great fo essays

student on February 12, 2019:

this animals are so cute

Student on February 11, 2019:

Thanks so much!

john on February 08, 2019:

thanks i doing a school essay and this help a lot

Blurple on November 17, 2018:

dont curse

Blurple on November 17, 2018:

great content for my essay.

I think its all on opinion

that is why this topic is so controversial

I don't disagree

but I don't agree

Thanks though

P.S. is a guinea pig exotic

and im a robot

blurple on November 17, 2018:

danger is what matters

getting a turtle is harmless

getting a tiger is less harmless

but be yourself

I can't stop you

Jesus on November 07, 2018:

Thanks for the information I think the same as you

? on November 07, 2018:

thanks for the information i think the same too.

? on October 24, 2018:

This is stupid cats and dogs are nice and wild animals would eat you for a snack.

Tanner on May 23, 2018:

Personally there is not much of a difference between exotic and domestic animals. I have had a leopard gecko and a yellow lab for about 5 years now and they both have the same needs, water, food and space. I treat both of them the same and love them both.

Mochie on May 03, 2018:

I agree with exotic pets should be allowed. I lived in California and that was horrible. I moved to Florida and got a ferret. I loved her name is Mochie. Anyway, there was a huge fire. My house burned and I was at work. My ferret chose to stay rather than run away. I was so touched and scared Mochie was alive. She chose to stay right in front of the house, waiting for me.

Ugande on April 09, 2018:

All of you are stupid. All animals are the same we just spent more time with dogs and cats

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 20, 2018:

Adam, It's not my job to defend owning pets in general just because mine are exotic. Domesticated pet owners enjoy their freedom and I just want the same thing. I can't argue against the negative stuff: disease, environmental problems, bad care from some owners...all of that is true. All I can say is that dog and cat supporters, i.e. everyone, can't say there is some novel reason keeping exotics is so terrible. Or really anyone who does anything that affects animals negatively.

Adam on February 20, 2018:

I am in almost total agreement, but I think this article is more why have domesticated animals is just as “bad” or as “good” as having exotic animals. Though you did scrape the side of why they are good, I feel like some changes could’ve been made. Otherwise, great article I enjoyed reading it and it helped me a ton with an argumental essay on this topic.

Me on February 14, 2018:

I agree that you should be able to own exotic animals. You did great.

human on February 05, 2018:

i am cringing so hard right now at this. i can't even... so nasty.

katrina on January 18, 2018:

hey love the paragraphs !!

Nice work!

kylea christensen on January 18, 2018:

this is the most amazing thing ever

i don't have a name on January 11, 2018:

i wholesomely thank you for creating this article. i have noted down all your points for a debate at university. however, i do not agree with keeping exotic pets because of how it could change their species characteristics over time. but i do realise your points and support your opinions on the matter.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 01, 2017:

"I'd really love for you to expand on your point as to why owning a domestic animal could ever be the same as owning an exotic one. I'm fairly confident you can't."

1. Exotic animal = anything other than a dog, cat, or common farm animal. This includes hamsters, parakeets, or even bunny rabbits. Some are simultaneously considered to be domestic as well.

2. All of these animals have instincts, some can be skittish, some don't even like humans, not unlike other 'exotic' animals like lemurs, foxes, and kangaroos.

3. All require the owner to do research, lest their care is executed poorly.

4. Many domesticated animals can survive just fine in the wild (some dogs, most cats, goldfish, swine, ect. all have formed invasive populations in the wild).

5. Most so-called wild or exotic animals CANNOT survive in the 'wild'. Invasive populations of mammals originating from the exotic pet trade are very rare and pretty much only exist in Florida.

6. The so-called domesticated cat is considered by some to not even be domesticated. They are VERY similar to their ancestor, the African wild cat, and have the exact same issues that zoo animals have in captivity. These issues are resolved the same exact way you would with an 'exotic' animal.

Should I go on dumb@ss?

Ryan on December 01, 2017:


Ryan on December 01, 2017:

Also, you're missing the point. Dogs and cats in the United States have been bread for years and years to be domesticated animals. Many of them couldn't survive in the wild. Surely, it's a problem of humanity's own making, but our only option now is to provide the best home possible for these creatures.

I'd really love for you to expand on your point as to why owning a domestic animal could ever be the same as owning an exotic one. I'm fairly confident you can't.

Ryan on December 01, 2017:

The author is objectively a bad person. THAT is irrefutable.

i don't have one on November 29, 2017:

I agree with you guys about not having an exotic pet an why you guys did an good job explaining

lucy ann on September 18, 2017:

I think these pets are weird snm

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 14, 2017:

Compassion: That's your prerogative. The point is that you shouldn't be judging me if you're fine with owning cats. I don't think there's anything wrong with exotic pets or cats. Before you start preaching to others how wrong it is to own exotic pets, just be sure you inform people you are also against owning dogs and cats.

Compassion on July 13, 2017:

You are saying two wrongs make a right. Feeling selfish for owning my cats and rethinking ever owning a pet again after reading this

Kim Hammell on June 26, 2017:

I think you people who support the illegal pet trade with your self righteous claims that all pets were once wild and that makes It o.k. to have anything as a pet, is completely wrong ! You think because you can, it's o.k. You hide behind "free speech" unbelievable ! You Are Helping Greedy People Make Animals Extinct !

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 15, 2017:

Pete: Not all animals considered to be exotic pets are non-domesticated. Pot-bellied pigs, camels, and llamas are some examples.

Not all domestics enjoy humans and not all non-domestics only do so when trained. The idea that a tiger wants to kill you every chance it gets is just ignorance. There are no differences between tigers and domesticated cats in that regard. Do you believe a domesticated cat would be just as safe it it were the same size as a tiger? what about a tiger the size of a house cat, wouldn't that make a great pet? Think about that. It's SIZE.

You don't understand animals if you think tigers just want to kill everything. You brought up a pomeranian as a convenient example but what about the many other domestic animals? Guinea pigs, hamsters and numerous farm animals merely tolerate humans, and sometimes barely that. Dogs are the only animals with true genetic inclination to be around humans, and even some of those breeds are not house pets.

Pete on April 22, 2017:

Slightly confused as to why ferrets are referred to as exotic pets? They are a domesticated animal dived from the European polecat. There's no such thing as a wild ferret.

This is obviously an emotive subject for alot of people. My personal opinion is that the difference between domestic and exotic animals (referring mostly to mammals here) is that domestics are bred to want and enjoy human company whereas exotics are trained to tolerate it. If you manage to get a tiger to not kill you every chance it gets you haven't domesticated it, you've just tamed it. Would a tiger be more 'happy' (trying not to anthropomorphasize) in the wild than in a cage? Probably. Would a pomeranian be happier in the wild with no human companionship? No.

You have to fundamentally alter an exotic animals nature in order to cohabit with it, which is not the case with a domestic, it wants human companionship on a genetic level. Does a captive bred exotic know deep down that this isn't how it is supposed to live or does it not miss what it's never had? Sadly that is unanswerable, although I would wager millions of years of evolution would be hard to overcome.

I don't pretend that I am holding some sort of moral high ground by not owning exotics, but I can only go with what I feel is right.

Even if I really, really, really want a Pallas' cat.


Also, here's a really interesting article on Popular Science about a lab that has developed truly domesticated red foxes in just 60 years by selective breeding.

Just.A.School.Girl on March 27, 2017:

I do sort of agree with all of the others who say stuff about keeping exotic animals is some what selfish, but it is really not selfish if you think about it hard and meaningfully. But still my favorite pet/animal is a fox. So what if some people do say stuff about exotic animals belong in their habitat, well so do regular animals like cats and dogs and even birds. So if I were to argue against something like exotic animals belong in the wild well I think that I would win.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 22, 2017:

You can't help me notice anything. It's insulting when people approach someone who's obviously invested in a subject and attempt to 'argue' using basic points they heard in some anti-exotic pet pamphlet. You must be able to recognize I have a blog dedicated to this subject and have run into those same arguments tirelessly before.

1. Tigers tame rather well, just as well as any cat, or perhaps better. The 'only' difference is that tigers are massive animals and even their attempts to play with you can put you in the hospital. That does NOT have to do with any 'wild' characteristics.

2. It does not take 30,000 years to domesticate animals just because dogs have been around for that long. Domestication is an arbitrary concept that cannot be strictly defined. The only characteristic that can define all animals considered to be domesticated is that they readily breed in the presence of humans.

3. Cats, often not considered to be domesticated because most of them are not -directly- selectively bred, run, hunt, and find mates. So do many dogs, especially when they aren't neutered, or are you comparing surgically altered animals to intact exotic pets? Only some dogs, some of which are unethically incapacitated through breeding (bull dogs, pugs) need human help to breed and survive.

4. Most cats, aside from uncommon pedigree cats like Persians, hunt on their own, VERY WELL, eliminating native species due to it. Everyone knows cats hunt, but they seem to forget this when they present to me ridiculous anti-exotic pet arguments. I know it is IMPOSSIBLE that you've never seen someone's cat carrying a helpless animal to play with. This is why if we should be banning anything, it should be outdoor cats!

5. Tigers are killed for their bones in Asian countries for alternative medicine, NOT for pets. Smuggling parrots and reptiles is illegal. Let the authorities handle it and stop thinking all American pet owners need to be punished by having their pets banned due to the actions of criminals.

Just a girl trying to make a difference on March 21, 2017:

Unlike most of the people in the comments, I do not support exotic pets. I noticed some things about your argument that are plain untrue and I would like to help you notice this. Look it up if you don't believe me. Domesticated pets *are* more tame than wild animals. Dogs, for example, have had 30,000 years of certain breeding to domesticate them. You cannot just buy a baby tiger and expect it to be domesticated because it has grown up with humans-- it will still experience the natural instinct to hunt, run around, find a mate, and everything else an animal does in the wild. Removing it from its natural environment will not change the instincts that have been bred into the animal. It will simply run, hunt, and attempt to find a mate inside your living room. I agree that naturally, a dog is able to bite just as much as, say, a monkey. However, back to my first argument; Dogs, cats, and other domesticated creatures have been made used to humans and are dependent on us for food and love. Dogs are normally trained not to bite by their mothers, and any dog that does bite was either raised in a puppy mill or their mother was taken away from them too young. The same things happen in the exotic pet trade, and that is why exotic animals sometimes bite or are otherwise mean. The exotic pet trade is cruller than you realize. Infant snakes are shipped in boxes across oceans. Tiger mothers are killed and the baby kidnapped for someone's "pet". Parrots have their beaks and legs tied so they can be packed together like tuna and shipped. Why would we condone such a horrendous treating of animals? That is my opinion. Thank you for your time.

Sebastian on March 03, 2017:

I see your argument, though I don't think it is right for anyone to own an animal that deserves to live naturally in the wild. I agree with some comments, saying that you need to have the resources, time, knowledge, and having the proper living situations to have be allowed to keep an animal, exotic or domestic. In my opinion the world would be less selfish if no one kept exotic pets, though you are right that the world is corrupt and people everywhere are selfish. My point is why contribute to the selfishness? These animals deserve to be free, where they can run, hunt, climb, mate, and live their primal lives. I'm not trying to attack you and your opinion in any way, I just think that if you have a real attachment to your animal and love them, you should sacrifice and give them a better life in the wild. Animals help us fill the void, and even if you have the money, time, and knowledge to care for exotic animals, why do it? If you love them, don't you want them to have a natural life in the wild? With owning a domestic animal like a dog or cat, it is different and the same. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, you can't deny history. If you love your dog, and you can't properly care for it, it's the same logic. Give it up, and let it live a life where it has everything it needs. A yard, a house, proper vet care, supplies, etc. Cats have been domesticated for a lot less time, and I feel extra strong about what I am about to say because I have two 'daughters' that I love with my entire heart. If you can't care for an animal like a cat and give it what it needs like mental stimulation, a raw and bio. appropriate diet, perches, maybe a catio or outdoor enclosure, the space it needs, and everything else, find it a loving home. I just hope that you don't think I am attacking your justification for owning an exotic animal, I just would like to tell you my views on why it is wrong. You say your arguments are irrefutable, though there is an ability to debate the point. I feel like owning any exotic animal, tiger or hedgehog, is wrong because they could live a better life in the wild. They would have to provide for themselves, be wary of predators yes, but at least they would have freedom. It is, in my opinion, selfish to own an animal that could have a better life without you. You may be so in love with a serval, or a macaw, but wouldn't you rather see these animals happy? Your description reads zoo attender, so I assume you know how miserable a lot of exotic animals are in captivity. I know I am some random person on the internet, and this may all be annoying to read since your views are different, but please understand I care for the animals. I know you might not be able to give your animals up so they can live in the wild because they can't hunt, but I hope your views may change in the future. Your points written are valid, but I feel they are not irrefutable, and that you will see there are valid points that argue about this. You may care for your animals like any pet owner, but owning an animal that really hasn't adapted to living with humans seems very cruel to me. I am not calling you cruel, that's what keeping them seems like to me though. Keeping a tiger in a cage is not right, no matter the emotional well being it can give you. Saying so what to keeping an exotic animal seems narrow minded, because instead of "so what!?" you could try and stop selfish people and inspire selflessness. Thank you for reading this.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 15, 2017:

Whatever: You're existing in a fantasy world. My lemur or whatever was born in captivity just as you would buy a puppy from a breeder. I don't have animals because I think I'm saving them. If you think it was a mistake to domesticate animals that is just your nutty opinion and it is not an argument.

unknown on February 02, 2017:

the picture up the page is of a genet. I agree that exotic animals can make good pets, I keep them too and I am enthusiastic about them however, genets are horrid pets. they smell, they are nocturnal so they are asleep all day. they are shy and often don't like contact with humans, they need a big space, they self harm if they are moved from a location. they will eat and kill anything smaller than them. they have a nasty bite. they are a horrid pet. however, leopard geckos bearded dragons, crested geckos, skinks, corn snakes, king snakes etc. African pigmy hedgehogs, even sugar gliders can make good pets. but there is a lot of pets that will either be too dangerous, too difficult, too big or you will simply kill as you cant give them the correct nutrients they need. have an exotic pet, they are great fun, but remember a lot of them aren't good pets.

bogopebug on January 25, 2017:

so your telling me owning a chihuahua is just as selfish selfish as purchasing a baby leopard. first of all chihuahuas are toy dogs and bred to be companions. they're happiest when they are around people companions. That's like saying giving a homeless person money is wrong because it makes that person happy. Second leopards are endangered and taking them out of their natural habitat (were they can roam around and hunt and live their life the way nature has intended) for human amusement. if those two examples are the same to you then you must have a brain the size of that of an ostrich.

neon on January 24, 2017:

This is awsome

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2017:

What a scary story Daisy, I'm glad everything turned out OK, but what unnecessary stupidity these laws are.

Secret on January 06, 2017:

You made amazing points and your article was very helpful. I am happy I came across it. I own an exotic pet, and I agree with all of your points. Thank you very much.

joeaineneennenenenenennennenenenene on November 16, 2016:

i like this article

whatever on August 18, 2016:

And to add to that, yes i totally want a fennec fox etc etc... but what am i promoting when other people see it and start to think that it's ok to have exotic and wild animals? There are consequences to my actions.

We should remember that there are also a lot of exotic animals in countries with extremely poor protection for animals; and when animals in these nations become a business, the lows and cruelty of humans has no bounds

whatever on August 18, 2016:

Here's the thing, exotic pet ownership is a multifactorial topic. I don't mind people taking care of abandoned animals etc or maybe an exotic animals somehow decide it likes you and wants to stay... but


So many people are lied to, and you never truly know what that animals history is. The breeder you got your lemur or whatever from will tell you some story about how this animal was saved when in reality it was probably captured and taken away from it's family.

They do similar things to lions and tigers... they'll take the cubs from mom, tell you she wasn't accepted and sell them off. You think you're doing the right thing when in reality you're only promoting the problem

Or maybe they'll let you pet the cubs and play with them... but then what happens when they get bigger... they get replaced with tiny little cubs, which were again taken away from mom. And what happens to those big cats...

If you truly love animals, you'd want them to be able to live in a world where they are free to do as they please.

It's true we've damaged their environments, but our goal should be to fix those environments not make them our pets.

Also the cats/dog thing is not something worth discussing. It was a mistake (or maybe not) for domesticating them long long long ago. At this point it's our job to take care of them. It doesn't mean that we should do it to other animals.

It's all linked, we should have a low tolerance for people with exotic pets, because there will always be some POS out there who wants to capitalize on the exotic animal business, and to those people it doesn't matter how many have to suffer in order to make a living.

Daisy on August 11, 2016:

Thank you for this article. I own a ferret, I believe is a more 'accepted' exotic animal. At least in my community. I have been taking my ferret on walks since I first got him, at first I let just anyone touch him; Kids, parents, local police (That one is a funny story). Anyways, now if kids want to pet him I ask them to ask their parents. I had a woman scream at me she was going to sue me for endangering her child to my 'Filthy Rat'. Because my ferret supposedly has rampant diseases. I did show up to court with my ferret, and thankfully the case was dropped after I explained that my ferret was no filthier than anyone else walking their dog. Luckily the judge had knowledge about ferrets, and accepted my response. I try my best to inform those who approach that they are part of the weasel family and related to polecats and minks. Also that their original practical use was to put them inside pipes to hunt/chase out unwanted mice and rats.

This next part is just a story that has had a significant impact on my memory.

I did almost loose my ferret, when I was younger and ignorant of states having their own pet laws. For my senior trip in high school. (At the time I had a Female ferret name Jezzabell who was 8 years old at the time) And wanted to go on a cross country road trip. So me, two other friends, Jezzy and their dog hit the touristy spots. When we got to California, we entered from a less trafficked road. I was asleep in the passenger seat with Jezzy curled up in my chest.(On her leash with her name tag). I remember being so scared, as they opened the door and reached for her. I wouldn't let her go and I was a crying mess. I told them I didn't know I couldn't bring her and that I we would turn the car around and not enter, but they called the state trooper. The state trooper was older and I'm sure seeing three, barely legal teens, one refusing to let go of the ferret, wasn't what he expected. Because the first thing he did was start laughing. He asked for the ferret, and not wanting to get in too much more trouble I reluctantly handed her over. He held her, and pet her. He said that she was quite beautiful asked me some questions about why I had her, how long, and where I was from. He went to his car, Jezzy just chilling in his hand. Me wishing this would be the one time she would give someone hell but nah she was like 'warm hand'. I returns handing me a paper. Of course I thought ticket. But it was actually a list of counties and cities that ferrets were banned (at the time) with corresponding state. He asked for a picture with her and with us. Of course we did, and then he let us go. My mother called me an hour later to say that the cop had called her saying we were fine but what happened. Needless to say I have never been to California. But I'm happy I got to finish my trip. Jezzy passed 3 years later but I still have a photo of her and the trooper.

Michael McKeown on August 18, 2015:

I should like to ask Melissa her opinion of the the hundreds of dolphins and whales held in captivity in dolphinaria in the USA. Quite apart from malpractices by keeper and inadequate facilities in these concrete tanks the effect of captivity ultimately destroys the mental equilibrium and welfare of these highly intelligent and sentient creatures . To me this is indefensible.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 27, 2015:

You are right aethelthryth, thanks.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 27, 2015:

"How about sports betting? It's no different from the stock market"

Maybe this is true, not one of my areas of interest. The stigma against exotic pets is almost completely imagined.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 25, 2015:

Very educational and Congrats on HOTD Melissa. You must really love cats. I've lived with cats and dogs in my youth. They can help you pass the time well and give you true love but they can also get bored with you so you'll need to ease up the bothering sometimes. Thanks for the good info provided here. See you around.

ArtDiva on May 25, 2015:

An irrefutable fact is the destruction of animal habitat by humankind slowing forcing many animals into extinction. Survival of many animals will depend on the preservation of habitat for the preservation of wildlife, not whether exotic animals socialized and raised as pets; however, it might well be the answer for the survival of many species. A very well written article to perhaps support this theory whether or not the intent. Just my considered opinion.

aethelthryth from American Southwest on May 25, 2015:

A carefully-stated, thoughtful article. Good job. I am still amused that the city of Denver outlawed African pygmy hedgehogs because of (so I heard) fears of feral hedgehogs, although midsummer is the only time Denver temperatures are warm enough for the hedgehogs!

Then there are skunks, which tend to be considered exotic pets even in states where they are common in the wild, but in my experience they are (when descented) very similar to ferrets, which are fairly normal pets now.

Vortrek Grafix on May 25, 2015:

Nothing is irrefutable. Most issues like this are judgement calls - and that makes them arbitrary relative to opinions and experiences upon which they are founded. That said, I am an animal rights nut, but also a pragmatist. Don't like hunting for sport and would prefer much better gun control. And yet, by and large the wildlife situation in the US national forests is in reasonable shape. Bears, Cougars, Moose, Elk etc. all over the place. Why? The NRA and proper hunting license management\enforcement. So here the "bad guy" to a large extent funds and regulates wildlife and supports a manageable and sustainable strategy.

As for the logic 'if you accept domestic pets, you must accept exotic pets', that logic applies to anything. Take any subject upon which opinions vary. How about sports betting? It's no different from the stock market, or placing a wager with an insurance company. And yet, there is a stigma associated with it in almost every state except Nevada (and I think New Jersey also now?). So why is one opinion acceptable and another is not? It's not democratic I know that much. A lot of it depends on whether there is a sufficiently well financed lobby to change things. There are lots of examples like that ranging from criminal justice issues, to controversy surrounding freedom of speech, artistic expression, personal lifestyles, etc.

One needs to have an open mind to the pros and cons of the big picture putting aside opinions of right and wrong and realizing they are often arbitrary. As for exotic pet trade, if it is done in a responsible way and encourages preservation of wildlife (let's say by breeding exotic pets domestically rather than exploiting threatened populations in the wild), then one needs to consider that such ideas if properly executed can have merit.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on May 25, 2015:

Very interesting article on exotic pet keeping. It is an exciting topic which is very useful for exotic pet keepers. I learnt new things here.

Voted up and interesting.

John Albu from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102 on May 25, 2015:

I think the problem with exotic pets as opposed to regular ones is that they are more complicated to keep. You need to know more about them, they have special demands and people don't always bother to research about that.

vasantha T k on May 25, 2015:

Interesting topic on exotic pets.The exotic pet owners get attention for themselves and for their pets. Voted Up!

Buildreps from Europe on May 25, 2015:

Congratulations with your HotD! Very nice and well written article. You make good points, and they appear objective and almost irrefutable from a relativistic point of view.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 26, 2015:

Someon des-- A properly cared for cat cannot.

Someon des on April 25, 2015:

I don't think there is anything wrong with keeping cats. If the cat doesn't want to live with humans, it doesn't have to - it can always go and live somewhere else. I'd love to be a domestic cat; they don't have to worry about anything.

Tash on February 28, 2015:

As a keeper of 20 snakes, 5 lizards, 8 inverts, a cat and a dog. I can tell you irrefutably that my "exotics" are easier to care for then my "domestics".

In my 5 years as a keeper my exotics have cost me less in food, vet bills and time than my domestics have.

My little 6kg dog and my cat would do far more damaged to me or anyone else if they attacked than any of my exotics.

A couple years ago I compiled a list of statistics from NHS published figures comparing the hospitalization caused by exotics and domestics.

Total treatments between 2003-2012 because:

W54 Bitten or struck by dog : 44850

Treatment needed between 2003-2012 because:

W58 Bitten or struck by crocodile or alligator

W59 Bitten or crushed by other reptiles

X20 Contact with venomous snakes and lizards

X21 Contact with venomous spiders

X22 Contact with scorpions

X24 Contact with centipedes and venomous millipedes (tropical)

Combined total of reptile/inverts (this includes native animals): 1260

So "safe pets" caused over 40,000 treatments to be needed and that's not even including other pets deemed as safe like cats/rats/mice etc and reptiles/inverts, so called "dangerous wild animals", didn't even make it into 2000.

It is also estimated that, due to the fact that many keepers like myself have multiple reptiles and inverts, there are more reptiles and inverts kept as pets in the UK than there are cats and dogs.

Make of that what you will...

bob on February 12, 2015:

some one needs to tell deb over there to do better research on florida, when they went out and did the great snake hunts they barely found any snakes. but when reading the articles you'd swear you can't take a step wtihout stepping on a sake. look it up, over a thousand people hunting snakes didn't even find a hundred snakes

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 21, 2015:

Wild or not your cat would be domesticated Tina. The word has nothing to do with tameness. In the large majority of cases, tameness comes from human socializing. Cats are not tame when they are raised without human influence. A human-socialized tiger has a better disposition than a feral cat, but the feral cat is domesticated and the tiger is not, because that word means a change of genes.

Tina on January 21, 2015:

Try telling my very domesticated, indoor by choice cat that she's meant to be wild xD Seriously, if I leave her out on her own for more than 5 minutes, she gets pissed off at me. She's also perfectly happy and healthy because we play with her and take care of her PROPERLY.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 01, 2014:

NDsnakes-- AZA doesn't support pet owners, you'd have to agree to their SSPs and they get control of certain animals, I think. You're better off with ZAA accreditation. I'm moving the NC too, and be SURE to find one of the few remaining counties that doesn't have bans. Where I'm going, the county next to my county has bans as bad as California!

Bears need A LOT of room and stimulation to stop them from performing unnerving stereotypies which are, in my opinion, different from the pacing of big cats. I think no one should attempt them unless they have a large enclosure (around at least 2 acres).

NDsnakes on June 01, 2014:

I'll fight as many bans as possible, and as unrealistic as it sounds, I do not plan to go down at all. I'd like to move to North Carolina after college, where there are less laws than there are here in Ohio, and eventually get USDA/AZA registered. I just can't bring myself to accept defeat, however inevitable it seems.

I saw in another article that you didn't believe that bears could be properly kept by private owners. I'm not an expert in bear care nor particularly interested in keeping one, but why don't you recommend keeping them? They don't seem any more difficult than big cats.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 28, 2014:

Yes, particularly with the larger or more uncommon exotics, we've already lost the fight in most states and cities. The plan is just to go down fighting, then maybe those of use who are really obsessed can find a way to get licensed for 'educational' reasons. Maybe you can get an exhibitors license, but it won't be easy. I also have snakes, an iguana, and a green aracari.

NDsnakes on May 27, 2014:

Melissa, I love your articles and am incredibly grateful for what you write. I only have a few exotic reptiles right now, but would definitely like to expand when I'm older and more financially stable. Exotics, for me, provide a link to the natural world that television shows can never reproduce. Without contact with a variety of wild and domestic animals, I think we, as a nation, would lose our appreciation for animals and the natural world. I do support reasonable regulations on dangerous exotics, but never full-out bans or ridiculous, impossible-to-meet standards.

Sadly, I'm not sure that we're going to win this fight. It's "common knowledge" that exotics make terrible pets, and convincing people otherwise is so, so hard. I do plan on having a small, responsible, licensed zoo after college. I'd like to focus on animals that are already hated or persecuted rather than the camels and zebras that everyone loves, but I'm afraid that, in the ten years it'll take me to get there, nothing will be legal anymore. I hate the mentality of banning everything that isn't accepted by the general population, and think you do a great job of fighting it. Thanks again! Also, what do you keep exactly? Is it just the genet?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Weis on the rocks-- Thanks

Weis on the rocks on May 20, 2014:

Melissa - thank you so much for what you do.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 15, 2014:

DevilsAdvocate-- I should also point out upon reviewing my words that a lynx is not considered to be a 'big cat' to me or zoologists, so the lynx scenario is also not an example of what I was referring to. Neither are the incidences involving small cats like servals. My only mistake was not putting 'uninvolved' or specifying the U.S., which I will fix.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 15, 2014:

DevilsAdvocate-- Since the keeping of certain animals like dogs and cats enjoys near universal acceptance by all but the most radical and estranged animal rights followers, my goal is to not discuss the ethics of keeping pets in general, but to challenge the notion that keeping a dog is ethical and keeping an exotic pet is not.

Whether it is a dog, cat, flamingo, genet, or wallaby, they are all pets that fall under the same ethical quandary. The only thing that needs to be addressed is whether or not the species fares well in captivity, and I'm certain that there's just as much 'evidence' for most exotic pet species as there are for indoor-only domesticated felines and possibly even dogs, despite their extreme willingness to live with us. Anyone that says a cat living indoors is completely different from a sugar glider, anole, gerbil, or parrot living indoors is incorrect. Many exotics are also cared for in relation to their species-specific needs, so some exotics have outdoor access or live exclusively outside.

I find it to be irrefutable that no one can really know which animal is better off.

I thought it was made clear that while I acknowledge that pet keeping is and always has been selfish, that any human other than monks following extreme ascetic lifestyles will find it completely impossible to become 'unselfish', nor do I think it's fair for any human to torture themselves over this idea and diminish their quality of life. Nor is it right for one person to dictate which levels of selfishness are appropriate, i.e., the production of domesticated animals is ethical and keeping natural state animals is not.

"For example, there have been instances, although rare, where privately owned tigers and lions, some of which could have been former "pets", were slaughtered so that their parts could be sold on the black market."

Considering that this is "rare", I find it to be unreasonable to cite this as a broad impact from the N. American exotic pet trade. What such evidence exists that the 'pet trade' involving captive tigers is a significant reason that people go into jungles and shoot wild tigers? It doesn't seem to make any sense. Some conservationists have actually suggested captive breeding of tigers to offset the shooters. Tigers are pretty easy to breed, and therefore anyone can achieve it. Why would a reputable breeder be responsible for the actions of unscrupulous people who kill their animals to sell to the wildlife parts trade (if that even happened in this country)?

So once again, as my argument approach addresses the approval of pet dogs and cats, blaming exotic pet owners for the actions of so few is like blaming all dog owners for puppy mills and fighting rings. The existence of the animal means that some people will abuse it. That doesn't mean you end the animal's existence.

"And it's estimated that 80-90% of macaques (even "pet trade" individuals) carry the Herpes B virus, which is fatal to humans."

This is not really an environmental issue, and despite this fact, the last time anyone has caught this virus from a macaque was in the 90's. I make mention of that here:

If we can guess that there are at least thousands of pet macaques owned, why hasn't even ONE person caught the virus in the last 15 years? But aside from this, monkeys are one animal. We are talking about exotic pets. What kind of heavily concerning zoonotic diseases do captive born genets, wallabies, servals, sugar gliders, capybara, bobcats, toucans, zebras, coatimundis, and wolves have? I just named a slew of exotic animals that are no more disease-ridden than dogs and cats yet when talking about disease, everyone wants to talk about macaques. They are ONE animal. If anything, this tells us to be concerned about macaques but we have around 100+ other exotics to assess.

Domesticated cats are the biggest threat to the environment by far. Toxoplasmosis is even deadly to some marine mammals. It likely impacts humans. 30% is still MILLIONS of cats. I've never heard of a wild animal catching Herpes B virus from a monkey (there are wild macaque colonies restricted to parts of Florida).

"Any animal can bite". This is a statement, not an argument."

Well that would be true, if that was the only thing I wrote. It's simplistically written for a reason: it is silly for anyone to expect no incidences to occur with any captive animal of a certain size. Leaving alone the subject of inherently dangerous animals like tigers, even harmless exotics like ferrets have been persecuted for the exceptionally rare circumstances where a case emerges with a child injured by one. And ferrets are probably some of the more popular small animals, so numbers are high. Basically, whenever any animal of the exotic description harms anyone, the reaction is that all the animals should be banned. Now as for inherently dangerous animals:

"but an aggressive macaque.."

Without having researched this, I can confidently say that this animal has never killed a person in recent history, other than disease transmission (last occurred in 1997).

"And your claims that "no ‘pet’ big cat has escaped and attacked a member of the public" is patently false."

Maybe I wrote it incorrectly, but I'm only referring to the U.S. as the sample size, and members of the public should have "uninvolved" next to it if I didn't write that.

As in, if the member of the public is on the property of the exotic animal voluntarily (or in the case of children, brought there, so the guardian assumes the risk) than it's not a matter of public safety. When I think PS, I want to know; is an animal going to attack me or my child while we're minding our own business, assuming no risk, as countless dogs have done (just as in the recent viral video where a cat "defends" the little boy)

The tiger mauling occurred because the boy and his father were visiting the big cat owner, who foolishly went to show the animals to them and opened the cage. Perhaps your lynx example is a situation involving an uninvolved member of the public, but it should be noted that the girl received "no visible injuries".

Now don't think that I find the non-U.S. incidents irrelevant or that I believe that it's IMPOSSIBLE for a cat to escape and harm a member of the public. Should a tiger escape and eat 2 school children tomorrow, my point is that these situations are extremely RARE. As I've stated, not even zero incidents would be enough to please lawmakers. I have little doubt in my mind that exotics have probably caused non-severe incidents (like the lynx) that was simply not reported; again, regardless of the fact that there are millions of dogs so that accounts for their millions of bites, there are still at least thousands of exotic cats.

Doesn't it matter that out of thousands, around one or two animals cause 'problems' for the public annually? Doesn't it matter that members of the uninvolved public are almost never victims? PS is -not- under siege by exotic pets, as statistics show. My extreme sports analogy applies to keeper risk only.

"If this is the case, then you should have no problem with more restrictive laws (often referred to as "bans")"

No, bans do not make exceptions for 'good' owners. In most states, many exotic animals are not allowed to be owned as pets, period. You can have 20 years of expertise, a 10 acre compound, and loads of money. You can't get a license. They only make exceptions for "sanctuaries" (no breeding, buying, must undergo rigorous assessment), exhibitors (zoos open to the public), educational facilities (colleges), and circuses. If you want an animal just to own it, and not to make money, no license.

DevilsAdvocate on May 15, 2014:

As my username suggests, I'm playing devils advocate here, because there's no such thing as an "irrefutable" argument.

Your first 2"arguments" don't really support exotic pet ownership - you're just claiming that "normal" pet owners do bad things, too. This doesn't really further the cause of exotic ownership, it just points out the problems with non-exotic pets. And if pet ownership is inherently "selfish" and "unnatural", as you suggest, then why are you so in favor of it? Do two "wrongs" make a right?

Argument 3 is pretty good, but we can't say with certainty that NO exotic pet has EVER harmed the environment. For example, there have been instances, although rare, where privately owned tigers and lions, some of which could have been former "pets", were slaughtered so that their parts could be sold on the black market. There is evidence suggesting that this encourages poaching of wild animals. And it's estimated that 80-90% of macaques (even "pet trade" individuals) carry the Herpes B virus, which is fatal to humans. You won't see such a high rate of zoonotic diseases in domestics (for example, domestic felines are only about 30% likely to carry toxoplasmosis, and that isn't even a fatal disease most of the time) . Yes, domestic cats have a huge impact on the environment, but that's not what the argument's about. We're talking about exotics.

4. "Any animal can bite". This is a statement, not an argument. And while 4.7 million dog bites occur each year, there are anywhere from 70-80 million dogs in the country, meaning there's only a 5.8% chance of you being bitten by a dog. And out of those attacks, only 1 out of 147,717 attacks is likely to be fatal. We don't have exact data for exotic pets, but an aggressive macaque, tiger, or bear is going to have a much higher likelihood of killing someone than a traditional "domestic" animal would. And your claims that "no ‘pet’ big cat has escaped and attacked a member of the public" is patently false. In 2005, a lion and tiger owned by a mechanic in Minnesota bolted from their cage and pounced on a 10-year-old boy, leaving him a quadriplegic and on a respirator due to the severe injuries to his spinal cord and brain. A pet jaguar in Belize escaped in 2010 and killed the neighbor of the owner. In Mexico City, a 500-pound lion escaped from a local lawmaker’s private zoo and attacked a woman and child. And in Oregon, an escaped pet lynx was shot after it pounced on a six-year-old girl and began clawing her head. Smaller cats don't seem to have caused any recorded fatalities, but they've come very, very close: A 7-year-old boy was reportedly bitten “bone-deep” on the neck by a 40-pound declawed African serval, and a 2-year-old was mauled by a "pet" bobcat, which chewed off his right index finger and heel, and left a severe bite wound to his right cheek. This is ultimately why your analogy to extreme sports fails - if something goes wrong during a skydive, the only one who will bear the consequences are the skydiver and his family, who presumably understand the risks involved. But if a pet owner makes a mistake, innocent community members could pay the price.

5. "There are exotic pet owners out there whose care and expertise could appeal to even the most diehard anti-captivity advocate, and since they exist, the right to keep alternative pets is worth protecting."

If this is the case, then you should have no problem with more restrictive laws (often referred to as "bans") which would make it impossible for all but the very best owners to own exotics. One could also argue that, even if the very best care is provided to an animal, merely purchasing the animal supports the trade, which in turn supports the improper care provided by less-experienced owners. Is it ethical to support 10 "good owners" if you're also supporting 50 "bad" ones?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 07, 2014:

The difference is that your are proving my point. Why is the exotic pet trade singled out when it is far from the only offender, and critics of the exotic pet trade benefit from activities that ALSO contribute to invasive exotic species, including domesticated animal keeping.

Deborah Sexton on May 07, 2014:

I understand what Melissa is saying however I was talking about the impact exotic animals have on our eco system. I never mentioned the pet trade

What difference does it make how they are obtained ?

Breck123 on May 07, 2014:

I think what Melissa was trying to say was that the blue tilapia was not introduced to the ecosystem by the pet trade. If you say that you have government sources, please show us them.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 07, 2014:

Alright, we're not getting anywhere with this conversation.

Deborah Sexton on May 07, 2014:

I was talking about exotic animals, reptiles, and fish.

The blue tilapia are native to Northern and Western Africa, and the Middle East, so they are exotic. Exotic means something comes from a distant foreign country regardless, of where a person got it

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 07, 2014:

Vvitta, I also look at the point of view of the animal...what about the animals your pets are slaughtering? Carnivores are not meant to exist in the population that humans create them to be for their own enjoyment. Nature is tough enough for animals without luxury pets going on killing sprees. If pets shouldn't be confined then they also shouldn't exist.

Kalaichelvi Panchalingam from PETALING JAYA on May 07, 2014:

The ideas are good but when we look at the issue from the point of the animal, things take a different turn. I believe that pets must not be caged and be allowed the freedom of movement. It must be comfortable and allowed to meet 'humans' if it wants too and both parties must feel safe.

My cats are in the house, outside the house, friends with the neighbours and sleep wherever they want to. i don't know if a pet snake will have as much freedom.