The Five Freedoms of the Exotic Pet:

Traditionally, when people think of pet animals, they somewhat stereotypically imagine cats, dogs, rabbits or even pet birds, but there are also a variety of exotic animals that can make for rewarding, companions.

It could be said that the idea of exotic pets became popular due to their appearance in iconic movies such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Finding Nemo, George of the Jungle, Night at the Museum and the Princess & the Frog. One of the major concerns surrounding the trend of people keeping exotic pets is whether the welfare needs' of the animal can be met:

The Five Freedoms

All animals need to be kept to a standard of care known as The Five Freedoms as part of the Animal Welfare Act. These freedoms are:

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

Every animal should have access to the food their species' needs to survive at the amounts that keep them healthy. They should also always have plenty of fresh, clean water to drink.

2. Freedom from discomfort

All animals need to live in an environment that is appropriate for them with proper shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease

Regular check-ups at the vets, as well as any required vaccinations, are just a couple of preventative measures that can help to avoid injuries or health issues.

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour

All animals need the space, facilities and companionship of other animals from their species, just as they would in the wild.

5. Freedom from fear and distress

Mental suffering should be avoided by ensuring conditions are appropriate and potential predators are kept at bay.

Welfare concerns of exotic animals

There are a number of issues that concern careful advocates of the exotic pet trade, such as Corner Exotics: for example, the way animals are captured, bred, transported, sold and cared for. Even though a lot of exotic animals can be easily bred in captivity, many are still 'wild-caught' as this is often cheaper – but with this comes risk as many wild species carry disease, increases the chance of mistreatment and seriously depletes already dwindling wild numbers.

The unwanted exotic pet

A lot of exotic pets end up in rescue centres as their needs can no longer be met by their owners. Some of the reasons they end up in rescue include: outliving their owner, complex care requirements, high cost, loss of interest, behavioural problems and insufficient researchby the owners before they got the animal.

For every owner who decides they would like to home an exotic pet, they must consider the following:

  • Lifespan
  • Adult size
  • Handleability
  • Expense
  • Danger
  • Vet care