Popular Species

Exotic pets are animals not typically kept as pets. An abundance of species are popular currently, and legalization has increased. There are many species available, but are too many to list.

These are some popular choices:

Tarantula

Tarantulas can be a good choice for owners not needing a lot of interaction. However, tarantulas have a venomous bite similar to a bee sting, but this is usually not serious. It could cause an allergic reaction, though. Some tarantulas can shed or even flick irritating hairs. Owners should take care not to get these hairs in their eyes.

The tarantula can reside in a small aquarium with a locking mesh lid. Potting soil and peat should be at least two to four inches deep. Hiding places should also be provided. A shallow water bowl is sufficient for moisture, along with misting the aquarium.

Tarantulas can be fed crickets once a week. When molting, a spider should not be fed. This can take up to two weeks.

Ideal for new owners, these are spiders that are fun and nonaggressive:

  • Dwarf Chilean Flame
  • Honduran Curly Hair
  • Mexican Red Knee
  • Chaco Golden Knee
  • Chilean Rose
  • Costa Rican Zebra

Bearded Dragon

The bearded dragon is from Australia and is a low maintenance pet. Their movements are fun to watch.

Bearded dragons can live in an aquarium with a screened lid. Insects and worms should be the main diet, with occasional vegetables and non-citrus fruit. Paper or carpeting can be placed in the bottom for bedding, along with large rocks and branches. Fluorescent bulbs with UVA and UVB radiation are required to emulate the sun.

Hedgehog

Hedgehogs should be handled gently. They often will curl into a ball when feeling threatened. Hedgehogs have spikes, but do not throw them like porcupines. An unusual habit of spreading saliva on their backs is often evidenced.

They will need a minimum of three square feet of floor space. Wire flooring should be avoided. Provide bedding such as aspen shavings, pine or AstroTurf. Hedgehog food, cat food and insectivore food can be used.

Axolotl

Axolotls are large salamanders from Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico City. They are low maintenance pets.

Owners can use a 20 gallon aquarium stocked with caves, wood and plants. The temperature of the water should be in the low to mid 60s. Axolotls may nip or bite off the legs and gills of other axolotls, so placing them alone or in large aquariums is best, unless owners know they do not bite.

Axolotls can be fed earthworms and frozen bloodworm cubes. Treats can be frozen cooked shrimp and lean pieces of beef and chicken.

Chinchilla

Chinchillas are nocturnal, but can be awake during the day. These animals require socialization and should be handled frequently. However, young children should not hold them, as chinchillas are fragile and if handled roughly, may bite.

Cages for chinchillas can be purchased from many stores. Bedding can be recycled paper or aspen shavings. Food should be hay, along with pellets made for chinchillas. Occasional treats are fine.

Fennec Fox

Fennec Foxes are active animals that require lots of socialization. They emit many types of vocalizations, such as barks, squeals, wails and growls. They also dig and chew frequently.

For food, provide dog food, cat food, vegetables and fruit. Cages can be a dog crate inside and an escape-proofed pen outside.

House training can be difficult. This will require taking the fox to the litter box or outdoor pen and giving them lots of treats. Owners will also need to find a veterinarian that can treat fennec foxes.

Owning an exotic pet can be exciting. New owners need to research the species and the local laws carefully and decide what type of pet will be the best fit for their family. Once the decision has been made and the pet purchased, owners can enjoy their new friend.

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