Heather Robertson from the Animal Emergency Center in Novi has seen it all as a vet since 1996: wallabies, kangaroos and lots of snakes. She has unique insight on caring for exotic pets since she sees many needing medical attention. If your kid is interested in getting an exotic pet, but you’re not so sure about it, take some advice from this local vet. Robertson gives these cautions for families considering getting an exotic pet. Plus, be sure to check out the list of questions to ask when considering owning an exotic pet.
Do your research
They look cute. But are you ready to take care of a creature that might require a specialized diet and gear? Look online and ask at the pet store about what’s involved. Check with a vet, too. That colorful iguana, for example, will outgrow his cage during his long, long lifespan.
Don’t rely on your kids
Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the parent to care for the pet. While pets can teach kids responsibility, exotics are not the kind of creatures that can stay in your child’s room without any supervision or monitoring. Also, if you go out of town, you’ll need someone to watch your pet. Having them care for a hedgehog or a snake is a lot tougher than a cat.
Consider the novelty factor
When it comes to exotics, part of the appeal is that they’re unique and different, but that can wear off – especially for kids. “Think about whether your child is still going to be interested in the pet three, four, five years from now.”
Robertson recommends mice or rats. “They have easy diets and make good kid pets,” she says. “Snakes can make great pets, too, but you have to be willing to have them eat mice. They can live a long time.” As far as lizards, try bearded dragons or geckos. Turtles have a long life span, too. And she doesn’t recommend sugar gliders. “They require too much specialized care.”
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2017.