Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Working with the Program Animals gives me the opportunity to introduce our guests to a variety of really cool animals including birds, reptiles, and terrestrial mammals. Some of these types of animals - like Lola the sulfur crested cockatoo, Matches the bearded dragon, and Iggy the green iguana - are commonly kept as pets. I get approached by guests all the time asking where they could acquire such a pet, or telling me about the pets they already have. While I’m very happy there are folks out there interested in caring for animals, there are many things to take into consideration before you take on the responsibility of keeping any animal as a pet. Knowing a lot about the animal you intend to bring home is essential, as is taking care of the unique needs of your pet!
Just some things to think about:
What type of housing does your pet need? Some animals, like most reptiles, have special light, heat, and humidity requirements. Some are escape artists - is your enclosure safe for your pet? Animals that are allowed to escape most likely will not survive on their own. They cannot find their own food, and they are not equipped to deal with an unfamiliar environment. It’s the pet owner’s responsibility to keep them safe and secure.
What are the nutritional requirements of your pet? Recently, a co-worker approached me with a question from a young guest. Apparently his bearded dragon had stopped growing and he wanted to know what he should feed it. While I’m sure this family had good intentions, please find out the nutritional requirements of your pet BEFORE you bring it home! Bearded dragons, for example, cannot live on iceberg lettuce alone. Leafy greens (like dandelion greens, collard greens, or kale), vegetables, fruits, and insects are usually essential, and your pet may have even more specialized diet requirements. Did you know spinach can be hazardous? Also, check into the nutritional supplements that may be required for your particular pet.
What is the life span, full size, and typical behavior of your pet? Sulfur crested cockatoos can live well over 80 years and require a lot of attention every single day and they are extremely loud and messy. Pot bellied pigs typically “root” for food while cats love to scratch on things. Can you live with the normal behaviors of your desired pet? Lots of animals will get much bigger than they are in the pet store. Knowing the size your animal will eventually be when it is fully grown is essential so you can provide the proper space necessary for your pet.
These are just a few things to think about when considering a new pet addition to the family. There are a lot more things to consider - how they will get along with other pets and family members, where to acquire your pet, how to train your pet - just to name a few. At the Aquarium we strive to give the best possible care to our animals, why should your pets at home be any different? Please do some research well in advance and think honestly about the commitment you are making prior to adopting or purchasing your new companion. With just a little research and planning, your pets at home can be just as happy and healthy as the ones at the Aquarium!
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All blogs and comments represent the views of the individual authors and not necessarily those of the Aquarium.