Fur, Feathers, Shells, or Scales?
Exotic animals can make great pets – but do your homework first.
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What’s the hardest thing about owning fish?
Now, there’s always fish, of course. But again, an impulse buy — you just couldn’t resist those gorgeous Silver Mollies, at Petco for just $2.49 — can turn into considerable expense. An aquarium is just the first step. After that you’ll need pumps and filters and heaters and all sorts of gadgets to maintain an aquatic environment that is clean and the correct temperature. Feeding isn’t as easy as it seems, as anyone knows who has had a goldfish; fish can die from too much food, or too little. And those fancy saltwater aquariums, with the truly exotic fish and other creatures like hermit crabs? Forget it unless you are willing to perform almost daily tests on the water to make sure the saline level is correct.
So where does that leave somebody wanting an unusual creature for a pet? Somewhere between the clerk in a local pet store who says, quite emphatically, “Nobody needs an exotic pet,” to the veterinarians who advise doing plenty of research before buying one. “I sometimes wish people would call before they get a pet,” says Hannon, “and ask me, ‘What do you think of this?’ And then I can ask them, ‘Did you consider A, B, C, and D, before you decided on that particular pet?’”
The Internet, of course, is a great resource, but as always, make sure the information is accurate and reliable. “There are a lot of ‘Billy Bob’s Bearded Dragon’ pages,” says Hannon, “with some guy who says he’s been breeding them 20 years and knows all about them. Well, just because it worked for him doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Keep in mind one thing: “Pets are work anyway you look at it,” says Pope.
And above all, even though a surprising number of Memphians have them, don’t even consider a monkey. “Owning a capuchin monkey is like having a 2-year-old kid,” says Hannon. “A 2-year-old that you’ll have to watch over for the next 35 years.”