The world is rampant with cats, dogs and guinea pigs, but for the more adventurous pet owners, there is a world of possibilities vis a vis the pets they can keep. However, you might think having an original pet is a super idea at first, but exotic animals come with their own set of challenges, but in terms of care and upkeep, and legal requirements in your country.
The UK allows some pretty risqué pet choices, including tarantulas, fennec foxes, sugar gliders and even a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach! Although we would seriously question the judgement of anyone that wanted one of those as a pet…
It might scare you to know that with a special government licence, people can own “pets” that are not just unusual, but extremely dangerous. Wild cats, crocodiles and venomous snakes are just a few examples of the full list of licence allowable pets. There are so many social implications to these allowances, which are detrimental to both the owners and the animals. The first clue is in the title – WILD animals. Unless you’re a very specialised trainer and have the appropriate facilities, good luck domesticating a puma! There is quite little oversight in terms of how and where these animals are kept.
The conditions in which these animals might be living in, and often do, are completely unsuitable – they’re unsafe, unsecured and too small. If you’re going to commit to owning a wild animal, particularly a large one, you need to understand that they need space to live healthily, not to mention very specialised diets, so getting such an animal with the intention of keeping them in your backyard is very cruel – but sadly happens very often.
Safety is of course another major concern – not just the animals, but irresponsible owners are putting their lives at risk if they’re choosing to keep a dangerous animal and don’t know how to look after it properly. And if some idiot wants to cosy up with a venomous snake, you might say it’s their business, but what if they keep it in a poorly constructed enclosure or are careless and the snake escapes? Maybe pays a visit to their next-door neighbours who keep something normal, and delicious, like hamsters, or children?
If you do want to branch out and be bold with your pet choice, it may not surprise you that you can’t just show up at the local pound or pet shop and casually pick up a Marmoset Monkey, which also throws into question how these exotic animals make it to the shores of the UK in the first place.
The other super important consideration of course is the animals’ welfare. Just because they’re wild, doesn’t mean they’re impervious to the ravages of nature. If your special pet gets sick or injured, there are very few places where you can safely and legally take your animal for treatment. Can you imagine taking in your puppy for its shots and seeing a leashed cayman in the waiting room? Maybe in our nightmares!
And just because they’re big or scary doesn’t mean that these animals don’t deserve love and entertainment. How are you supposed to safely play with a boa constrictor or a jackal?
All in all, choosing an exotic animal as a pet is not for the faint of heart and should not be done by anyone that doesn’t know what they’re doing and don’t have the proper facilities to keep the pet, and themselves, safe and healthy. For the average person though, if you have a fascination with beautiful wild animals, you can visit them in special wildlife reserves or conservation centres, instead of in your spare bedroom. Get yourself a regular toothless corn snake (not that caring for those is a piece of cake either!) and just bang on some David Attenborough. For everybody’s peace of mind.