Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Looking After Exotic Pets with The RSPCA

If you've read this blog for a long time, you'll know that I have a rather fluffy dachshund called Monty. I'll be the first to point out that he isn't exactly exotic, too! However, you might not know that growing up we had a chinchilla. Clearly, I just have a thing for tiny, fluffy pets. Unfortunately, many people buy exotic pets and don't realise how much time and care they need - for example, did you know chinchillas live for up to ten years? That's a huge commitment of your time, energy and money - so you should think carefully before getting yourself a pet - exotic or otherwise. 

top tip: keep your chinchilla away from Jay Z
Exotic pets need special environments to live in too - so you can't just put down a bed and expect them to sleep there, like a dog would. Pets like bearded dragons, corn snakes and geckos need specialised heated tanks to live in, otherwise they can become ill. The tanks need to be big enough for them to grow in, and replicate their natural environment with places to climb, hide or bask in the light. Pets like chinchillas are nocturnal, so you need to factor things like that in before buying an exotic pet - will it be awake when you are? Will you annoy your entire family if you buy a pet that spins on a wheel all through the night?  

The RSPCA wants to help pet-owners, and even would-be owners, know the real-life issues with owning an exotic pet, and the best ways to care for them. A happy pet makes a happy owner, am I right? You might not realise it, but by not caring for your pet in the right way, you can cause some serious harm to them. When we first got our chinchilla, my youngest brother tried to give him a bath, but chinchillas use a sand bath, rather than water which my brother had no idea about. Luckily, we managed to save him before he was plunged into the bath but something like that could have caused all of his fur to fall out due to stress. Animals like terrapins and tortoises should be fed on a diet of plants, flowers and vegetables - but shouldn't be fed green beans as they are too high in protein, or cabbage because it's too high in oxalic acid. Knowing things like this can help keep your animal safe, as the worst thing you want to do when feeding your pet a nutritious meal is to mess it up and actually cause harm to them. 

Hopefully, by raising awareness and offering helpful fact sheets, the RSPCA can help to minimise the amount of animals who are harmed once becoming pets as well as reduce the amount of animals who are abandoned once the owner realises the effort and care needed to provide for them. Like with any pet, the best thing you can give them is a loving home, and part of loving should come from an understanding of their basic needs! If the thought of giving your ideal pet snake mice to eat, then maybe a snake isn't the pet for you. 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with the RSCPA. Content written by myself.

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