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Things to Consider Before Buying a Specialty Animal

Updated on January 4, 2008

So, you're thinking about buying a specialty animal. When I use the term 'specialty animal,' I speaking in terms of something other than a dog, cat, or fish. I'm speaking in terms of hamster, gerbil, ferret, rabbit, chinchilla, leopard gecko, bearded dragon, ball python, boa constrictor, iguana, cockatiel, cockatoo, parrot, etc. I'm speaking in terms of reptiles, small, furry animals, and birds.

If you really think you want to purchase an animal like this you should ask yourself the following five questions.

  • Why do you want the animal?
  • Who will care for the animal? Feed it? Clean its habitat?
  • How much time to do you have to spend with the animal?
  • Do you have enough room to house the animal at its adult size?
  • Do you know the average lifespan of the animal? Some animals can outlive humans, will you have a home for it if something happens to you?

If you still think you're ready to purchase, own, and care for a specialty animal, consider the following:

  • Learn everything you can about the basic requirements for housing, feeding, and overal care for the animal.
  • Make sure that the animal's general temperament will suit your household. Some animals are obtained, not knowing they are 'look at' pets versus 'play with' pets.
  • Make sure that you can provide the basic requirements for the animal.
  • Learn the dietary needs at different life stages. Make sure you are able to obtain any special diets that the animal may need.
  • If the animal has a long lifespan, make sure that it will have a home if something happens to you.
  • Find a veterinarian in your area that will look at and treat the animal in case something happens and it become ill.
  • Check to see whether or not the animal needs yearly shots, as some specialty animals DO require certain shots.

Find a breeder, rescue, or owner of the particular animal you are interested in, and ask TONS of questions. Ask questions about anything and everything involving the animal. Housing. Diet. Toys. Temperatures. Lighting. Special requirements. Common illnesses. Gender differences. Personality.

You want to get as much knowledge about the animal in question as you can before actually bringing one home. The biggest mistake you can do is a spur of the moment purchase. The animal gets home with you, and you know nothing, or you may know the small tid-bits of information that the petstore was able to give you. The one to two page caresheets will only get you so far.

Do you research first!

The last thing you want to do is bring home an animal and not know that it's temperament is more hostile than sweet. Not know that the Tokay you just purchased is a 'look at' pet ONLY versus a 'play with' pet. Or, that the ferret you just brought home, can't stay in his cage 24/7; he will need play time. You can't leave that gorgeous cockatoo in her cage so guests can admire her; she has the mind set of a two year old and needs the attention to match. And, I promise, no matter what size tank you put a snake in, he will continue to grow, so don't plan on keeping that gorgeous red tail boa in a 10 gallong aquarium for long.

So, if you've made the big decision to get a specialty animal. Do your research. Find a vet. Ask questions. Do everything you can do to provide the best possible home for the animal.

Before bringing the animal home, you will need to check the laws and regulations in your state, as some states do not allow some animals to be pets. For example, in many states ferrets are illegal to have as pets. Degus, certain snake species, and other exotic pets, tend to find their name on the list. Make sure to check the laws before taking all this into account.


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      PoleCat 10 years ago

      I agree 100%. These are all the things you MUST know before even considering getting an exotic or specialty pet. I plan on buying two ferrets very soon and have thought over the idea of owning a pair for at least three years. I did my research and learned that a permit is required and some pet shops near me even give you a permit that's good for 20 days. It's not as expensive as I thought, whiuch is good. I also learned about the large amount of attention they need and that their lifespan is almost as long as a domestic cat's life.

    • Jackilyn profile image

      Jackilyn 10 years ago

      yup these are the things you should know.