When you hear the term "exotic pet," what does it conjure up? Do you think of monkeys, parrots, and snakes? What exactly constitutes an exotic pet depends to a certain extent on whom you ask. Some sources say that an exotic pet is any pet that is not a cat or dog. Others say an exotic pet is one that is rarely if ever kept as a pet, such as an insect or reptile. And still other sources consider pets exotic if they are animals like lions, boa constrictors, and panthers. There's a little bit of truth in all of those. For our purposes, we will consider exotic pets those that are not cats, dogs, or standard rodents like rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. One important thing to note in any discussion of exotic pets is that it's usually illegal to keep wild animals as pets, whether you rescue them as a baby or capture them as adults. So make sure you are within your local and federal laws before you embark on exotic pet ownership. Exotic Variations There are exotic "variations" of common pets, too. For example, cats are not considered exotic pets, but the Bengal breed may be. And of course, any large cat kept as a pet (such as a tiger) would be considered exotic. Here are some common exotic variations of common house pet types: Rodents: * Unusual breeds of hamsters, such as the dwarf hamster * Chinchillas * Rare or unusual ferrets Dogs: * Wolf-dog hybrids * Domesticated wolves * Certain foreign breeds not normally seen in the US Birds Birds are one of the more common exotic pets available. They tend to be very expensive, unless you go through an adoption process or rescue group (those aren't necessarily cheap, either!). They can also be expensive to keep. Reptiles and Amphibians Although readily available in some pet stores, most reptiles and amphibians are considered exotic. This includes snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards, and the like. Pigs and Miniature Horses These little versions of the common farm animals have gone through several trends. These "potbellied pigs" and miniature horses are often no larger than a dog, and require similar care. Monkeys Small monkeys are sometimes kept as pets, usually the capuchin or macaque breeds. Monkeys are expensive to buy and keep, and they can bite. Care Tips One of the keys to successfully owning an exotic pet is to have a specialized veterinarian in your area. It can be hard to find such vets, and you may need to do some research. It's a common mistake among pet owners to think that a vet's a vet; but you need to have a vet who knows your species. Another key point is to research your particular animal carefully. Exotic pets have specific needs, sensitivities, requirements, and so forth. You could end up with tragedy or heartbreak if you do not educate yourself on keeping an exotic pet.
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