Great article from a guest blogger -
The Dangers Of Atypical Pets
By Ashley Warner
When it comes to buying pets, most people still aim for dogs and cats, while others opt for small pets like lizards, birds and fish. However, a growing number of people are opting to own more unusual pets. While most animal advocates and people who have studied animal behavior, such as those with online biology degrees, disapprove of this practice, some people see animals like monkeys, reptiles and large cats on television and think it would be great to have one. Yet more often than not, people don't have a full grasp on the responsibility of owning an exotic pet before they purchase one. This can lead to a lot of problems. Having an atypical pet in your home is not only often detrimental to the animal, but it also can put your life risk.
Agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are vehemently against the ownership of strange and exotic pets, particularly those that need to be imported. As such, people often obtain these pets illegally. In fact, there are many Web sites that provide people with the ability to purchase atypical pets, which can lead to a lot of legal problems. For instance, there are state, local and federal laws to consider when it comes to owning an exotic pet. However, the legal issues are just the tip of the iceberg.
By owning an atypical pet, you pose a serious risk to your own health and well-being. These animals are often extremely dangerous. When you bring one of them home, odds are you cannot provide them with the extensive care they need such as special diets, as well as a secured and comfortable habitat. The most common risk to public safety is when one of these animals escapes as a result of an enclosure that is too small or poorly constructed. There have been dozens of cases in the news about large snakes, tigers and even monkeys killing animals or attacking people. It is important to remember that wild animals aren't easily tamed like dogs and cats. As a result, they are quick to exhibit aggressive behavior in lieu of a proper habitat or improper feeding. This often leads to unfortunate cases in which an animal lashes out at its owner or other people.
Aside from the behavioral risks, atypical pets also pose health risks. Many strange pets are carriers of disease: most snakes release salmonella. many monkeys carry Herpes-B, and even seemingly harmless prairie dogs often carry the bubonic plague. Most often, these diseases don't harm the animals, but they can prove fatal to humans. By purchasing one of these pets, you are putting yourself at risk to catch a potentially lethal illness. You could also put your family, friends and neighbors at risk.
In addition to putting yourself at risk, you also put the animals at risk. Many people can't get proper veterinary care for odd pets or provide them with proper food. Eventually, most people who buy exotic pets give up on them because they can't take care of the animal properly. In fact, the ecosystem in the Everglades has been devastated by people releasing pythons in to the wild because they have gotten too big to keep in a cage. No matter how well meaning they may be, most people cannot provide the necessary care for an exotic pet.
Ultimately it is best to avoid purchasing an exotic pet, but if you must do so, make sure you understand all of the pet's needs and the risks involved with its care. It is also crucial that you need to know the legal implications as well as the health concerns of having such a pet in your home. If you don't go in to the situation with complete knowledge, you will may find yourself in a terrible situation.
Ashley Warner is a graduate student working toward her Masters in Conservation Biology and is a content creator for Online Biology Degree. She currently resides in Washington state