About Us
Company Profile
Common Questions
Exotic Pets
Contact Us

Exotic Pets - Where to Start

An exotic pet is defined as a non-standard pet. This can include anything from racoons to snakes, rodents to carnivores. Because an exotic isn't a typical pet like a dog or a cat, the decision to buy or adopt an exotic pet is a big one. Vanishing Species doesn't generally recommend exotic pets, particularly for novice pet owners. 99% of potential exotic pet owners that volunteer with Vanishing Species to gain experience decide within the first 100 hours that exotic ownership is not for them.

However, if you have your mind set, we would at least like to get you on the right track. The following is a starting guide for new and perspective exotic owners:

  1. Consider your motives. Many people's underlying motivation to get an exotic pet is ego or to "show it off" to friends. Ego is a very poor reason to have an unusual animal as a pet and hardly makes up for the all the money, time, and energy involved.

  2. Check with both your local and state authorities. Not all exotic animals are allowed as pets in all states, and some cities and states do not permit them at all. Even if your state allows exotics, you must still check with your local authorities.

  3. Research, research, research! If you really want an exotic animal, find out what it eats, where it lives, how/when it breeds, its temperament in the wild and in captivity, and everything else you can possibly learn. This will help you determine if you can provide the animal with everything it needs, and whether or not this animal will act as you expect.

  4. Volunteer! This is one of the most vital things you can do. Contact your state's Department of Natural Resources or Department of Fish and Game. This will be the agency that regulates captive wildlife care. They will also be the ones performing inspections at captive wildlife owners' homes and facilities (including yours!) Tell them you are considering getting a [whatever] for a pet and do they have a recommendation where you could volunteer to get some experience. Some states have rules about minimum experience in order to get a particular animal as a pet (particular carnivores and primates). Calling DNR or Fish and Game will help ensure that your volunteer experience is a positive one and that you are learning from the best place possible. It will also give you some hands-on time with the species you are considering so you can really decide if this is for you. if you live in the South Florida area, browse our volunteer section of the website.

  5. Plan Plan Plan! Before finally getting an exotic, figure out the details. This will be vital for your pet and will also keep you from panicking in an emergency.

    • What size enclosure will your animal need? Your state may have specific minimum requirements.
    • Do you want multiple animals? Will that affect the size of your enclosure?
    • What enrichment will your animal need? Think of enrichment as entertainment. Depending on the species this can mean foliage, toys, mirrors, tubs of water, obstacles/mazes, or other stimulation.
    • Who will you use for a veterinarian? Do they specialize in the animal you want? If not have a specialist as a backup vet.
    • Is the vet available 24 hours? What will you do for emergency care?
    • How much will it cost to feed and care for your pet?
    • What will you do for food and care if you lose your job? Get sick? Move?
    • Will your pet need special vitamins or other supplements? Find a good supplier.
    • Will your pet engage in seasonal activity? (Estrus or "heat", hibernation, etc.) What will you need to do to accomodate them?
    • Is the animal you are considering known to be overly protective or possesive? How will you handle this with family and friends?
    • Is your pet sensitive to environmental changes (temperature, humidity, seasons, drafts, light)? How will you accomodate this?
    • How will you safely transport your animal (ex. to the vet)?
    • If you move or travel outside your state with your animal do you need federal licensing to transport them?
    • Even after you volunteer, call or email reputable trainers or facilities. Ask questions to people that work day to day with the animal you want.
About Us | Palmdale | Animals | Help Us | Events | Links | Contact | Store | Members