Exotic Pet Ownership

The majestic yet venomous (and very invasive) lionfish from Hakai Magazine.

Lately I’ve been pondering what type of pet I’d like to own when I finally move out of my college dorm and into the real word. During my time searching the interwebs, I discovered several exotic and even wild animals that I could easily purchase online, such as sugar gliders and even fennec foxes. After a couple minutes, I found myself stumbling on article after article that advocates against owning novelty pets. And so the moral debate begins.

This hilarious article by One Green Planet says some people indulge in exotic pet ownership because “taking care of a dog or cat is simply not challenging enough”. I laughed there because I know a couple breeds (Dalmatian, Jack Russell Terrier, Pug) that could give you the time of your life just trying to train them.

I decided not to own certain exotic pets for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s cute and you want it – but even if you are a loving, informed pet owner you are promoting the use of wild animals as pets. Wild animals want to be wild! And although dogs and cats have wild ancestors, there’s quite a difference between owning a dog and a chimpanzee.
  2. Some animals, like lizards, are bred in captivity. But certain pets don’t breed in captivity so they must be captured from their natural habitat, which can impact species population. This is where the lionfish in my first picture comes in. Lionfish are wild-caught but they are doing so well that they have been found in parts of the world they shouldn’t be in! It’s okay to own a lionfish because there are so many, it has become a problem.
  3. Some pets, such as hermit crabs, are hastily removed from their environments and shipped to other ones with little regard for their health or comfort. Support breeders who treat their pets well, and buy from someone you trust to raise healthy, happy animals.

In the end, I think the most important thing to me is to not buy an endangered species. You don’t want to be committing a crime by owning your pet, and having an illegal pet makes it very difficult to get proper veterinary care. I think owning exotic pets such as clownfish, snakes, frogs, and lizards is acceptable because there are plenty in the wild and they can be captive-bred. Larger pets like tigers and monkeys are meant for zoos and wildlife facilities because they require a specific environment that most people cannot adequately provide.

taylor nicole dean snake
Taylor Nicole Dean is a super informative pet-YouTuber. Here’s one of her many snakes!

Now, this post does have relevance to my favorite topic (water) because exotic pets require lots of energy in the form of heating, lighting, and of course, water. While watching video after video on YouTube about pet care, I was shocked that YouTubers recommended using only bottled water to feed your snake, gecko, or other pet. Flashback to the Parks and Recreation episode where the town of Eagleton went broke because they used bottled water in their public pools (Season 6 Episode 2, you’re welcome).

Not only does this waste a lot of single-use plastic and money, but also there are easy ways to treat your water at home. I know this because I used to own goldfish. You can buy a large bottle of dechlorinator and use 2 drops per gallon, or the amount specified, to rid of the impurities in your water. It’s that simple. Carbon filters can also remove chlorine, although they don’t work as well with salts, minerals, metals, and inorganics.

Water conditioners from New Aquarium Information.

I also really appreciated the advice from Leopard Gecko Care Guide. They suggested filling a large bucket with tap water and letting it sit for a day. Then voila, you have pure water for your pet to drink! Did you know that the EPA guidance for chlorine dosage in water has units of concentration-time (Ct)? That’s because the chlorine dissolves on its way from the water treatment facility to your house, so the facility must take into account the time the water will spend in the facility AND the dosage that is needed to clean the water. You may notice that water that has been left out for a day tastes different than when it just came out of the tap. That’s because the chemicals in the water have dissolved.

“Filling a jug of tap water and leaving it out for 24 hours will allow harmful chemicals to evaporate” – Leopard Gecko Care Guide

Would you own an exotic pet? Why would you advocate for or against it? Thanks for reading and commenting!

From, The Earth Goddess

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