For whichever reason or advantage that one gives to justify the keeping of exotic pets, it comes with a package of a diverse range of cons. While having an exotic pet can bring about hassles for the pet owners, pet owners’ desire and selfishness in wanting to keep an exotic pet also can have a detrimental effect on the survival and wellbeing of these animals themselves. The eventual risks, damage and disadvantages – to both owners and the animals – of owning an exquisite pet out of the norm may balance out or even outweigh the glamour of owning one.
Death Before Destination
Many exotics die before they reach their destination. The inappropriate and cruel handling methods from its capture, package or transport, usually cause great physical stress and injury, consequently leading to the death of the exotic animal. Some also die from the psychological misery and trauma of capture, or even from the resulting effect of rudimentary care by ignorant transporters.
Difficult, Expensive, perhaps even Unmanageable
Exotic pets can be difficult and expensive to look after, or even unmanageable in the long run especially when one lacks the finances, experience and knowledge to care for one.
Some exotic pets may require more space to live in and move about as full grown adults, such as that of the rock python which can grow up to 5 metres. The feed of some exotic pets may also be difficult to find for various reasons such as lack of availability and thus having to import the food, or even costly to purchase as well that therefore puts a strain on finances in the long-run. Additionally as these wild, exotic animals grow, they might seek for their natural forms of cognitive stimulation not available from the human environment, and this can cause greater trouble for or put greater demands on the owner to meet these cognitive needs. Some animals also live a long life which hence require a long-term financial commitment and dedication to care for it sufficiently, both physically and psychologically, by the owner.
With the high or increasing expenses and difficulty in managing these animals, many exotics are then abandoned, released into the wild, or surrendered to a shelter or refuge. On a more horrific level, some pet owners might take to immoral methods such caging, chaining or beating these animals into submission in order to better manage them.
Specific Medical & Dietary Attention
Most pet-owners of exotic pets do not have the resources or the knowledge to properly meet their animals’ physical, behavioural and psychological needs.
When it comes to medical attention, vets who specialised in exotic pets are few and expensive. Similarly, vets require qualified technicians or clinic assistants who are likewise trained in the exotic medical field as well. Additionally, a vet trained in attending to a type of exotic animal may not necessary have the knowledge to treat all kinds of exotics: knowledge, skill and resources cannot easily be carried-over from one species to another due to the vast differences in physical animal needs. As a result, getting the necessary medical care for a sick exotic pet can be difficult. Not only that, vet care for exotic animals is often more costly than that of a typical pet.
Pet owners also have to keep in mind that their exotic pets might need specific dietary requirements in order to ensure for good physical well-being. Different kinds of exotic animals require their own specific type of diet and nutrition, and/or even its own unique frequency and time of feeding, method of food presentation etc. For example, feeding a nocturnal species during the day may significantly affect its feeding success and therefore its nutritional well-being. Compounding their specific diet may also be the fact that the feed of these exotic pets can be difficult to access to and hence obtain, which therefore requires the owner to constantly go the extra mile just to search for the appropriate food sources and maintain them.
Exotic pets are usually not pets that have been domesticated to innately suit human needs or the human environment. As any other animal and additionally still retaining the same wild instincts and needs, they react badly to new and strange environments, and also the resulting stress. Pet owners have to go the extra mile to ensure that housing for exotic animals simulate the natural environment as much as possible, or at least have controlled temperatures and humidity as well as minimal commotion and stimulation. Animals’ safety can also be greatly compromised, when pets (domesticates and exotics alike!) are kept in inappropriate and/or unsafe facilities that do not meet their necessary physiological and ethological needs.
Many exotic animals are also social species, yet kept individually and in isolation by their owners. Sugar gliders are very social creatures which may just self-mutilate or even die from the stress of loneliness, when not given sufficient social attention and interaction.
When the novelty or commitment fades, or when pet expenses becomes unbearable, exotic pets (also domestic pets) are likely to be abandoned or even euthanised. When zoos and shelters do not want nor are suitable to accept these exotic animals, however and unfortunately, the pet owner would probably release it into the wild.
After its release majority of these pets will die for various reasons, such as being hit by a vehicle or running into a predator. Additionally, because they have become dependent on humans for survival and hence have no skills to live in the wild, they might also wind up suffering a gradual death from exhaustion and starvation. Even if they survive, these animals could face adaptability issues in their new environment where their usual food might not be available or the living conditions may not be suitable.