A guinea pig eating a dandelion

All animals require a specific set of circumstances in order to survive and thrive. Dogs, cats, and other domesticated species tend to be relatively simple when it comes to care. They’ve evolved along with us, and we’re familiar with what it takes to keep them happy and healthy.

Although exotic pets tend to be smaller and appear easier to maintain, this is usually not the case. Before you adopt an exotic pet, it’s important to do your research. Exotic pet care can be tricky, and some animals are easier to maintain than others. Figuring out what a pet needs and how that will (or will not) fit into your lifestyle is critical.

Exotic Pet Care

What constitutes an exotic pet isn’t well-defined. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll define exotic pets as any animal that’s not historically been kept as a domestic pet. Exotic pet care can be as varied and complex as the animals themselves. Below is an overview of the most common types of exotic pets:

  • Reptiles – Bearded dragon lizards are quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for reptile pets due to their friendly nature and relatively easy maintenance. All reptiles are sensitive to their environments, and changes in temperature, humidity, and lighting can wreak havoc on their health.  
  • Birds – Parakeets, cockatiels, and finches are rarely considered exotic, and they aren’t too difficult to care for as far as birds go. Some birds, like parrots, will need lots of extra attention and interaction. All birds are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and must be protected from airborne pollutants and other contaminants.
  • Amphibians – For the most part, fish are extremely easy to care for and are the most common amphibian pet. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are among the more difficult amphibians to maintain, as they require a specific set of circumstances and must be handled rarely or never.
  • Pocket pets – The term “pocket pets” encompasses all that is cute and cuddly, including mice, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, ferrets, rabbits, and sugar gliders. Choosing a pocket pet means taking a good look at your lifestyle. Some animals such as gerbils and mice are nocturnal, meaning they’re mostly active at night. Sugar gliders need a tremendous amount of space, and the more social pocket pets (such as rats, sugar gliders, and ferrets) require lots of human attention and interaction and do better living in pairs.

No matter what type of exotic pet you own, be absolutely certain that you understand their needs and can provide for them. Most exotic pets should be seen for annual checkups by a qualified veterinarian to ensure they don’t fall prey to illness or injury and to address any questions or concerns you might have.

The Pet Experts can help! We love exotic pets, and our highly trained staff is qualified to care for them. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Elmhurst Animal Care Center for more information.