Exotics should not be pets

Contributed photoCGHS/SPCA Adoption Counselor Alexa Caunitz is pictured with our sweet Shiba-Inu, Phoebe. Phoebe is about 7 years old and has been here for three months. Phoebe would do best in a household with no other animals, as she prefers to be the queen. She loves human affection and really just wants someone to pet her nonstop! She is going to need a household that’s prepared to give her a little extra TLC, as she does have a medical condition which our adoption counselors would be more than happy to review with a new adopter. It doesn’t cause her any discomfort, and has been reviewed carefully by our veterinarians. Please contact us if you’re interested in this sweet girl!

Let me pick up from where I left off in the last column.

Aside from the many lethal attacks, bites, stings, etc., however, there is another aspect to consider. Less aggressive and non-lethal exotics, like some species of birds and many small mammals, are just not designed for indoor residencies. First, there is the issue of veterinary care. All “pet” animals, exotic or not, require adequate wellness care (such as food, water, a suitable living environment, regular veterinary check-ups), as well as veterinary care when they are ailing. Exotic vets are few and far between; most vets will not take the risk of dealing with exotics. If you find one, they will most likely be specialized in one exotic type, such as birds or snakes. Try finding a vet for your sick Vietnamese centipede!

Second, let me backtrack a hair to where I mentioned adequate wellness care. For even “simple” dog and cat wellness, shopping can sometimes be difficult, just picking the right food or supplements, or utilizing effective anti-parasitic medications. The research has to go five times deeper for exotics, however, as their habitat must be completely recreated in an indoor sanctuary for them to survive, let alone thrive. While some birds and small mammals can accept room-temperature surroundings, cold-blooded reptiles, amphibians, insects, etc. have to be equipped with specially temperature-monitored cages. Food is a whole other issue, between finding a diet that works for an exotic, then locating where food can be purchased and delivered from to maintain health.

All of this also bows to the fact that there is no way to bring the great outdoors inside — you can’t possibly build a cage, crate, or fence large enough to give an exotic the acreage they would have in their natural habitat. Let’s be realistic. There’s nothing you can give your chinchilla, squirrel, box turtle, iguana, or toad that will make them believe they are “right at home.” Containing exotics is simply making them “cope” for the exchange of human pleasure. Dogs and cats, opposingly, thrive on the companionship they receive in caring homes, and their future without such an existence would be bleak.

It is for all these reasons that I vehemently proclaim that exotic animals should absolutely not be pets. Let them live in the world they have been created for. Instead, come rescue a cat or dog who can give you abounding payback for the favor!

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit www.cghs.org. Our Food Bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $86 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available 10-11 a.m. every Saturday at the shelter for a donation of $10 for cats and $15 for dogs (currently prepaid only).

Aaron Clause is an Administrative Assistant at the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA. He may be contacted at cghsaaron@gmail.com.

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