EXOTIC PETS: Know the commitment you are making
I OFTEN see that neighbour’s cat hunting in the garden and wonder whether cats are simply born to be wild. Several domesticated cats ‘run away’ from home – adding to the growing number of strays that hunt birds, rodents and lizards.
To my knowledge, the domestication of animals by humankind began with the reindeer. Since then, pet stores have thrived, and now offer a variety of exotic animals from the scaly to the fluffy – from around the world for people to keep as pets.
I can understand the lure to own an exotic animal. The good than can come from this is that it should encourage the owners of such animals to take a bigger interest in their lives and better understand their worlds. As an owner of exotic fish, I also understand the chances of survival of such animals in the wild. But once equipped with the right knowledge, the hobby of keeping exotic fishes extends to recreating a safe and happy habitat in which they may thrive.
I all too often notice people coming into pet stores, noticing them see something unusual and getting excited, buying something exotic, and exiting the store without the proper knowledge of how to properly care for their new pet. Pet stores do offer brochures and guidelines on how to look after most of the exotic animals they sell, but what’s really needed is more expertise and customer interaction between animal experts and consumers.
As far as exotic fish are concerned, I appeal to pet store owners to simply print out and place relevant information regarding proper care of different fish species above each tank in the pet store. Information regarding their diet, tank requirements, how large they grow and what other species of fish they can be kept with. This way, at least consumers may get the information they need for proper care of these animals at a glance.
More importantly, it is the responsibility of all those who wish to acquire an exotic pet, to do their homework beforehand and fully understand the commitment they are making. It can be a thrilling and educational experience. Let it be that rather than a tragic and sad end.
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