It’s not all kitten purrs and puppy tail wags for many animal lovers. Many pet owners make the decision to go with a more unique option for their new family member. Companionship can be found in a variety of forms whether it has scales, a few extra legs, feathers, beady eyes, or something else. Cats and dogs are great family members but, depending on your lifestyle, an alternative option to pet parenthood could be perfect for you.
Reptiles and Amphibians
There are a lot of cool factors that go into owning a reptile or amphibian. They are cool, alien-like creatures that will make a great addition to many families. Despite their cage life, however, they can be high maintenance animals. They don’t require a ton of attention or cuddles, but they do need very specific habitats in order to survive. Their diet is not for the faint of heart, either. Many reptiles and amphibians eat rodents or bugs. Be aware, also, that you will need to find a vet that can adequately care for a reptile or amphibian. They can sometimes be hard to find. Otherwise, having a reptile or amphibian as your pet is extremely rewarding. They have personalities, quirks, and the cute factor just like many other traditional pets. Popular reptile or amphibian pet options include:
- Corn snake
- Bearded dragon
- Ball Python
- Tree frog
Bugs and Fish
Combining two alternative pets that need the least amount of human interaction are the bug and fish options. Not only do these pets do fine without a ton of attention, they prefer it. These animals are more for the aesthetic than the companionship. A staggering amount of animals that end up at shelters are there because their owner didn’t have enough time for them.
To combat that issue, be sure to be realistic about what your lifestyle can handle before getting a pet. If you’d like a pet that can be in your life without disturbing it too much, consider one of these options.
Similar to the reptiles and amphibians, be sure you can stomach a pet like this. Many insect pets eat other bugs and can only be handled by those who can hold them without dropping them. Tarantulas, for instance, can die just by dropping a short distance to the ground. Many exotic fish are absolutely beautiful creatures but do require specific tanks and temperatures. And remember not to tap on the glass! Popular bug and fish pet options include:
- Praying mantis
- Betta fish
- Coy fish
Birds are extremely intelligent and beautiful animals to have as pets. Birds are not as much maintenance as a traditional pet is in that they don’t require house training, won’t chew on your shoes, and don’t need to go for walks. They are, however, very emotional and social creatures. Many birds require their mate or friend to be with them. They will need to spend time out of their cage socializing with you and the family. They are a treat to train, don’t require much grooming, and are inexpensive to feed. For pet owners who have mobility issues or trouble exercising their pet, a bird would be a great solution. They require mental and emotional stimulation much more than physical stimulation. Popular bird pet options include:
Rodent pets combine the perks of having a cute, fuzzy pet with having a low-maintenance pet. They tend to have small enclosures (depending on the type) and are content running through tube mazes and napping in their little huts. They enjoy some human interaction but don’t need a ton of attention or time away from their cage especially if you supply them with a friend to socialize with. Many rodents are very social animals as well and will need a companion to share their enclosure with. Just be sure to house genders together (unless you’d like a ton of pink babies running around to take care of or re-home).Popular rodent and shrew pet options include:
- Guinea pig
There are a ton of other pets that can be alternatives to the traditional pets that we usually find in homes. The key to owning super exotic animals is understanding that your vet options become more limited based on the rarity of the animal you own. Before deciding on an exotic pet to join the family, do your research and find a vet that allows exotic animals. And remember: the type of pet you decide to own says a lot about your personality. Many exotic pet owners choose their animal based on demanding lifestyles or the desire to own a unique pet.
Either way it’s best to figure out exactly what you are looking for in a pet and keep your expectations clear. A reptile, for instance, isn’t the best pet for a child just because they spend a lot of time in their enclosure. They can be easily injured and require gentle handling. But mostly, exotic animals of all types can be right for anyone if they understand the animal and what they need. Other popular exotic animal options include:
- Sugar glider
- Mini pig
Pet parenting is a rewarding part of life that many of us take very seriously. Our pets are our family members and for some pet parents, their animal family members are a little more non-traditional than others. For those that like a pet that’s a little different or understands that they won’t be able to shower their pet with time and affection all the time, exotic pet parenting is a perfect solution. Without them there would be that many more animals surrendered and loving exotics left without families. Affection from a gerbil or a betta might not be as obvious as affection from a dog, but its affection all the same.
Author Bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal welfare, loves spending time with her animals, and can usually be found watching bad TV while drinking fruity wine. Follow her on Twitter!
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