At the Inner South Veterinary Centre we see lots of “exotic pets” as well as cats and dogs. The phrase “exotic pets” covers a broad range of animals, easily described as anything that is not a cat or a dog. The range of exotic pets available in Australia is quite broad and covers numerous groups of animals.
- Ferrets – which are carnivores similar to cats and dogs
- Birds – such as Australian and exotic parrots, canaries and finches
- Rodents including rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice
- Reptiles including turtles, snakes and lizards
- Fish such as marine, freshwater, tropical and cool water species
- Amphibians – frogs, axolotls and salamanders
- Insects – spiders, mantids and leaf insects
- Molluscs – such as hermit crabs and various snails (seriously!)
People unfamiliar with these animals may find it hard to imagine some of them as pets but in our experience it does not matter what type, what size or how much they cost, people love and enjoy their pets equally. Personally, I am continually amazed at the distinct personalities, fascinating behaviours and sheer beauty of some of these animals.
In the last 10 years exotic pets have become increasingly popular for many reasons. People may want something different from a cat or dog, they may not have a backyard, they want something that can be contained in a relatively small space such as an aquarium or they just enjoy observing, caring for and even breeding that animal.
As you can see from the list above, if you are interested in exotic pets, you should be able to find one that suits you and your situation. The suppliers of these animals are well regulated and they are generally well looked after and healthy. But, and there is always a ‘but”, if you are thinking of keeping one of these animals, YOU MUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST.
Many of these pets have specific needs relating to air and water temperature, humidity, diet, UV light and so on. This will require a significant outlay to provide the equipment to do this, often more than the cost of the animal. They are not always “easy care pets” and require some commitment on your part to keep them healthy.
As veterinarians, most of the problems that we see occurring in these pets are due to mistakes made in their housing, nutrition and general management. If you get these things right, then you will have a happy, healthy pet and very few visits to the vet. Perhaps the biggest problem is finding accurate information about their care.
Get your information from as many sources as possible, the veterinarian, breeders, pet shops, friends, internet, and local clubs such as the Ferret Club and Rabbit Clubs.
We do not want to frighten people away from these animals but to encourage you to think about what is the right pet for your situation. For many people these pets are much more appropriate than a cat of a dog and just as enjoyable.
Inner South Veterinary Centre has vets who are highly skilled and passionate about ferrets, birds, rodents and reptiles. However we do not offer a veterinary service for fish, amphibians, insects and molluscs. We are always happy to give advice on any of these pets.