Exotic pets are a wild responsibility - AmericaNowNews.com

Exotic pets are a wild responsibility

You can find mountain lions, venomous snakes, baboons and llamas in a zoo, but some animal control officers around the country have also found them in people's homes.

In many states, owning an exotic pet or keeping a barnyard animal in your backyard may be legal, but not necessarily a great idea.

Whether from the wild or from a farm, if you are going to try to keep these animals as pets, there are some important things you need to know.

A piglet can be an adorable pet until it hits puberty. Size is just one problem people encounter when trying to raise a non-domesticated animal, like a pig, as an indoor house pet.

Jamie Ellsworth works at the Lazy 5 Ranch located east of Mooresville, North Carolina.

"They're so cute, but they can grow up to 200 pounds, and then it's a different story," Ellsworth says. "We get calls all the time."

So do animal control offices across the country.

Animal control officers have hooked everything from hedgehogs to honey bears out of homes that aren't equipped for the not so run-of-the mill pet.  

Melissa Knicely is the spokesperson for the Animal Care & Control Office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"I think people tend to forget the wild part of a wild animal," she says.

People also forget to first check their state and local laws.

Depending on where you live, owning a rare, wild or exotic animal is either allowed, permitted or out-right banned -- and for good reason. 

Dave Stoimenoff raises snakes inside his home in Gastonia, North Carolina.

"Snakes are escape artists," he says.

Most non-domesticated animals are like Stoimenoff's snakes -- they will seek any opportunity they can to escape.

Llamas, for instance, love to roam. And they'll roam right into town if they manage to find an open gate or hole in a fence!

Recently, there was a case near Shelby, North Carolina, where a llama named Henry did just that. He also charged at a law enforcement officer who attempted to round him up.

The frantic officer called 911 and reported, "I don't know what to do. It's chasing me up Range Road, here, and if you stand still, it butts the car."

Fortunately, Henry didn't do much harm.

When considering to adopt or own an exotic pet, you need to remember how big the animal will get and the amount of room they'll need versus what you will be able to provide and what you can do to adequately secure the animal.

Knicely says you need to remember "what's fair to the animal, and also, what's safe for the community."   

For example, large-breed snakes -- like a Burmese Python -- can grow more than 20 feet long, weigh more than 200 pounds, live for 20 years, and sometimes, mistake you or your child for a meal.

You can't take the natural instinct out of nature.

Turning a predator into a pet means taking responsibility of its feeding regimen. And when hunters aren't fed, they will find food.

If it's not in their cage, snakes and other animals have made headlines finding food in places like a crib.

Rare breeds of animals often transmit rare diseases. So, do your research and also be ready to pay more for medicine and for a specialized veterinarian that will likely be harder to find.

"You don't want any pet if you don't want an expensive pet, because they're all a large responsibility," Ellsworth says. "It's like having a child."

Sometimes, these "children" require additional clean-up.

Unlike a cat's litter box, large animals like exotic cats or large-breed pigs all leave behind huge land mines.

"Well when they are 250 pounds, it's a different story," Ellsworth says concerning the feces these animals can leave behind.

These are all reasons why many non-domestic breeds end up going back to the ranch, trader, breeder or dealer they came from.

Animal experts say its better to call an expert than just let it go off into the wild of your neighborhood, because that's when predators end up underneath someone's porch.

"I don't care to have a snake that could eat me," Stoimenoff says.

Experts recommend you familiarize yourself with the laws in your area regarding exotic pets. You should also know the animal's needs and what you can provide.

If you can't make a long-term, expensive commitment, animal enthusiasts say it's better just to visit the zoo.

Additional Information: 

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow