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exotic pets for kids: Yes or No?

Exotic pets such as chinchillas, spider monkeys, and ferrets require more attention, more expensive cages or habitats, and specialized vet care.

And just try to find a sitter for one of these exotic animals when you go on vacation. 

Figure on spending upwards of an hour each day on care and feeding for exotic pets - not a realistic possibility for most little ones.

Popular Exotic Pets Today

Exotic pets are defined as animals that are native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, not native to the United States, or were introduced abroad. 

Some of the most popular exotic pets include:

  • Armadillos
  • Chimpanzees
  • Garter snakes
  • Reptiles such as iguanas
  • Rare birds such as emus, ostriches, owls, eagles, and hawks
  • Ferrets
  • Felines such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, bobcats, and ocelots
  • Rodents including chinchillas, acacia rats, African pygmy mice
  • Parrots such as African grey parrot, cockatiels

Some of these exotic animals are known to carry or contract diseases that can affect their owners, such as salmonellosis and rabies.

Most major veterinary medical associations discourage the price ownership of individual exotic animals because providing environmental conditions, housing, and diet for an exotic animal can be difficult and expensive.

And, unlike commonly domesticated pets, exotic animals retain their wild nature.

Even if they are bred as pets and raised by humans, they can be unpredictable, relatively resistant to training, and in some cases - especially as full-grown adults - they can be dangerous.

Exotic Birds As Pets for Kids

Large birds often see children as something below them in the pecking order. This is not good. Now, if you would like an exotic bird for yourself, that’s one thing. But don’t get one just for your child.

Parrots and cockatoos make cool conversation pieces. They are fun, comical, and easy to train to do tricks. They are very social birds that bond readily with people.

But they are also loud; in fact, they screech. They are messy and destructive. And if you ignore or neglect them, they become self-destructive and pick out their feathers. And they live 70 to 80 years. Just think of signing on for a two-year-old who will never grow up. Ever.

If you're considering any of the above wild animals as pets, you'll have to search another Web site. You're braver than me.

Next steps? Consider getting the kids a pet they can care for themselves with little or no assistance.

Be sure to consider these Pet Pros and Cons before you bring a pet home to make sure your home and your family's lifestyle are compatible with whichever pet you choose. You'll be delighted you did.

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› Exotic Pets for Kids