I have a soft spot for not so soft pets. I am talking about exotic pets, especially snakes, lizards and turtles.
Although I think exotic pets are great, I do not think they are right for everyone.
A lot of people who own them and have trouble with them treat them as if they were regular pets, like a cat or dog. However, exotic pets rely on a different kind of care. They can be wonderful pets once you know how to handle them.
For some the appeal of having an exotic pet is that they do not require the same attention as a dog or cat. They do not need to be walked or played with in a constant manner like you do with many of the mammals.
The reptiles and amphibians do better left alone with sufficient food and shelter. Be sure to keep an eye on them, especially if they are small or can fit in tiny spots, because before you know it, they are gone.
Snakes are easy to take care of if you are knowledgeable on what their needs are and if you are willing to make a long term commitment. Snakes can live up to 20 years and require a diet that cannot be found at the local supermarket.
Snakes feed on rodents and you might have to go to a specialty shop and stock up on frozen rodents. Be sure you double check that you are defrosting chicken and not a rat for your dinner.
One fact about snakes is that they are great at escaping. Make sure your terrarium is secure or you will have a missing snake and maybe a missing cat.
People are drawn to the snake’s sensuous appearance and lovely markings, beware, however, that you do not purchase or handle venomous snakes.
Also, constrictor snakes can be dangerous as well.
Having a snake for a pet may seem cool and fun but always remember that they can endanger other pets and may be dangerous to you.
Lizards often make good pets and there are several of species to choose from. They are easy to take care of but the only annoying thing is that they have a habit of disappearing from their enclosures. They like to explore but sometimes that means never seeing them again.
Like most lizards, turtles are harmless and make very cute pets but they require a lot of care and sometimes even if you are attentive to their needs they die unexpectedly.
Turtles are creatures that hibernate and often people cannot recreate the exact conditions for them to do so. That is why those who do not hibernate die of liver disease.
Turtles need a lot of sunlight and regular tap water may upset their pH balance, so there is an extra cost in buying natural spring water. You may have to think twice when deciding whether a turtle would be a good pet.
It is often not advisable to have small children around exotic pets such as lizards, snakes and turtles. Not all turtles carry salmonella but always wash your hands after handling them.
Just recently I saw on the news that a large constrictor snake escaped from its cage and killed a young child. You must teach children that these pets are very different from the average pet.
Show them how to handle them carefully. Reiterate to them that like with any strange animal, these pets must be treated with caution.
If you are still interested in a pet that is a little different from the norm, read up on the exotic pet you want.
Remember that they can be very expensive and they do not act like a cat or dog. They are far from cuddly and their needs are different from the average pet. However, if you do your homework you will get a lot of enjoyment from your exotic pet.