According to the American Pet Products Association, an estimated $109.6 billion was spent on pets in 2021, as 70% of US households (or 90.5 million homes) now own a pet. Interestingly, it’s not all puppies and kittens. There are a few million households that opt to care for birds, fish, reptiles, or small animals instead.
Exotic pets make a wonderful addition to your family. However, as they are a bit less common (though no less adorable), they can be challenging to care for. Exotic pets are often more delicate and require special handling. Without adequate care, exotic pets can fall sick in captivity. Thoughtful preparation is essential to keep your pets happy and healthy. Here are four key points to focus on in 2022:
Supply your pet with adequate nutrition
As we mentioned in ‘How to Take Care for Your Pet’s Fur’, good food is inextricably linked to the good appearance of your pet. Animals require individual diet plans that include the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, malnutrition is one of the problems most frequently seen in exotic pets. For instance, although avian nutrition has come a long way, it’s almost impossible to replicate the exact diet birds have in the wild.
Reptiles could be herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, or insectivores — and ignoring these differences can be life-threatening for your pet.
The correct diet, with the right kind and amount of food, is critical. Never offer new foods without doing research to see if it’s safe. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian on dangerous foods, suitable snacks, and appropriate serving sizes for your pet.
Keep your pet’s habitat safe and clean
The habitat you create for your exotic pet should be clean, safe, and secure. Pets should live in a space where they don’t have to worry about other animals in proximity.
They should also be housed in an enclosure free of rust or sharp points. It should be secure enough so they can’t get out on their own or chew on dangerous objects.
Their cage or housing should have accessible areas for food and water, comfortable bedding, toys, and accessories. It should be spacious enough so they can burrow, hide, explore, or engage with the environment.
Some animals also need you to pay attention to the temperature, humidity, and light levels. Whenever an exotic pet is let out of its home and handled, it’s best to supervise it for the entire duration of the excursion.
Pay for pet insurance
Exotic pets are delicate, so it’s important to monitor their health. Sadly, many pets are likely to experience an expensive illness or accident at least once in their lifetime, and the costs can easily add up.
According to Sound Dollar, exotic pets like birds, turtles, and rabbits may be more expensive to treat than dogs and cats, as they often require specialized medical care from veterinarians with advanced training.
This is why exotic pets will likely benefit the most from a health insurance plan that covers major accidents and illnesses. Plans can also cover annual exams, wellness care, diagnostics, laboratory fees, and any required hospitalization.
Before purchasing an exotic pet insurance plan, be sure to verify which services and items are covered, in case of any exceptions or exclusions.
Do research on pet enrichment
Contrary to popular belief, exotic pets aren’t low maintenance. They experience more stress or fear than an average pet owner may believe, and depend on some level of daily interaction to keep them happy.
The University of Exeter notes that all animals should enjoy a wide range of “environmental enrichment” through social structures, occupation (or activities), sensory stimulation, and physical environment to improve their well-being.
Recognize your pet’s needs, whether they don’t like to be carried or can’t be left alone. Equip their enclosure with artificial plants, mirrors, rocks, wheels, bells, tunnels, toys, and other species-specific items to maintain their mental and physical fitness. Above all, take time to play with them. They need to engage with you or else become lethargic and mentally distressed.
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