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If you’re thinking about getting an exotic pet for your family, you may first want to do a little homework. Many families rush into getting an animal without considering all the details. Take a look at these top five mistakes people make when getting an exotic pet so you’ll know what to do instead.

Making an impulse pet purchase

It happens more often than you think that people go into a pet shop and buy an animal on a whim, forgetting that it is a living creature. Purchasing an exotic pet at random is not like buying a new type of deodorant. You can’t just throw it in the trash if it doesn’t work out.

Ask yourself, will this be a good pet for your family? Reptiles and amphibians come in all different varieties, and it would be a mistake to go into a shop, look around and select the one that looks most interesting to you. They each have their own personalities. Bearded dragons are often quite sociable and easy to handle. Green anoles, on the other hand, do not tolerate handling well, and may not be the pet for your family if you want to let the animal out to play with children.

Failing to understand the time commitment

Consider also whether you have the time required to care for a particular exotic. Green iguanas are one of the most commonly sold reptile pets. Properly caring for them, however, requires a very specific diet and environment that is demanding on owners and difficult to maintain.

Are you prepared to care for your exotic pet throughout its full lifespan? Jackson’s chameleon only lives about six to eight years. But a blue-tongue skink could stick around for up to twenty years. Make sure you are prepared for the commitment your pet will require.

Thinking your child will handle all the responsibility

Exotic pets, quite simply, require special care. Most young children are not even prepared to take care of domestic pets like dogs and cats, let alone animals with unique care requirements. If you are purchasing an exotic as a family pet, make peace now with the fact that it will be your pet, not your child’s. You will be the one feeding it and cleaning its aquarium. Again, these animals can live for a decade or more. When your child loses interest, the pet will still be there.

Underestimating the space needed

Certain exotics, like green iguanas and Burmese pythons grow to be quite large in maturity. You can’t simply buy an aquarium when they are young and leave them in it. How would you like being crammed into a room where you could only sit with your knees pulled up to your chest? Not so much? Neither do they. Just like dogs and cats, these animals need space to move and exercise.

Not considering their health needs

The most common cause of death and illness among exotic pets is malnutrition. Make sure you know the feeding requirements before you set your sights on a new pet. Can you afford appropriate food and veterinary care? If not, then you shouldn’t get one.

Check out the care sheets on our website for more specific information about caring for exotics.