Rehoming and Adopting Exotic Pets—What You Should Consider
When re-homing an exotic animal, it is illegal to charge any amount of money, even if this is merely an "adoption fee." This is a violation of USDA law, which requires any person selling an exotic animal to be USDA licensed. Charging money for an exotic animal is a crime that people do get punished for.
If you find yourself needing to rehome your exotic pet, you must surrender it to a sanctuary, or give it away to someone for free. When doing so, ensure that whoever is wanting to take your animal is responsible and knowledgeable. If you surrender your pet to an unknowledgeable owner, your pet risks being rehomed again, which can start a vicious cycle which I will later discuss.
I also feel the need to mention that I have not written this article in an attempt to dissuade someone from taking in an exotic animal in need of a rehome. I am writing this article to dissuade inexperienced and unsuitable people from doing so.
Is Cheaper Better?
People are mainly drawn to rehomed exotics due to their cheaper prices. For example, a baby kinkajou from a breeder could be $2500, but a rehome could be only $400! The issue here is that people don't realize cheaper isn't better when it comes to exotic animals. The overwhelming majority of exotics (kinkajous, primates, foxes, etc.) will never bond with you like a baby purchased from a breeder would. These animals grow strongly attached to the person who raises them, and often times won't even want to interact with their new owners.
If you are looking for a cheap or budget-cut way to purchase an exotic, it will not end well for you. It is a must that you properly invest time into your animal, and if you cannot do this I'd recommend you consider a different animal or a stuffed toy.
It's also important to keep in mind that an exotic animal being rehomed is in that situation for a reason. Usually, this is merely because the owner is uneducated and cannot handle their animal, or cannot care for it any longer (moving or getting married, for example). Sometimes, there can be a legitimate reason, like a fox who is extremely territorial, or a kinkajou who very easily becomes overexcited while playing and ends up biting people.
Re-homing is extremely stressful for exotics, and even more so when their new owner doesn't know what they're doing. This, in turn, will create even more problems, and make both you and your animal miserable.
I have most certainly seen people take in rehomes and bond with them very well, but these people are not beginners when it comes to exotic animals. They are experienced and know what they're getting into, and they often know how to handle the animal in question.
I discourage anyone lacking experience with the specific exotic species they are interested in from taking a rehomed animal.
A Vicious Cycle
Re-homing, when done wrong, can lead to a vicious cycle:
- Someone rehomes their pet
- The person who takes in the animal is unprepared or can't handle the animal
- The animal is rehomed once again
- Repeat X amount of times until a proper home is found
As I have mentioned numerous times, this is incredibly stressful for the animal! Sadly, this process isn't too uncommon.
It's essential to educate people about the special needs rehomed exotic pets might have for this very reason.
Exotics up for re-homing are not going to be the same as a baby animal purchased from a breeder and raised by you; some will never even bond with you.
I fully support people taking in exotics needing homes, as long as they know what they're getting into.
I hope you have found this article to be somewhat educational and I hope it has answered some questions you've had.
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.