Dangers Involving Pets that are Taken Away from their Natural Environment

Many people enjoy having exotic pets. There are many different animals that have been taken from the wild for use as household pets. In most cases, these have been the result of breeding for pet stores. Sometimes personal breeders also make a business out of breeding exotics. There are many dangers that can come with owning these pets. The dangers, however, are not always things that harm the humans. There are dangers that negatively affect the pets as well. Many of these pets are bred commercially and come from a variety of places around the globe. Some animals do not do well in a home environment, or in a certain climate. It is important to know the natural habitat of any animal you bring home.


Ferrets have gained momentum as pets in the United States in recent years. They are docile animals and do well with a variety of other animals. They are native to Europe, however. The wild versions seen in the United States are of the black-footed variety. There are many health issues that plague ferrets living in the United States. Prevention is key to avoid hefty veterinary bills. These precautions, unfortunately, are usually taken out too late.

Ferrets are naturally cold weather animals and obligate carnivores. Their digestive systems cannot handle anything other than protein. Ideally, they should eat a raw diet. They need to eat whole prey, consisting of the bones. Rabbits and chicks are common. Pet stores sell kibble for ferrets. Over time, this food causes them to have blood sugar issues. Insulinoma results from tumors on the pancreas. Surgery and daily medication are the only remedies. These, however, are not a permanent fix. The ferret’s life is usually cut short. Ferrets in the United States die much sooner than those in the UK.

Ferrets are also extremely sensitive to the rhythms of day and night. Artificial light in homes at night keeps their adrenal glands active when they should not be. This can result in more tumors and adrenal disease. Ferrets with this disease often lose the majority of their fur. Implants and medications can lessen the symptoms but not cure it. Ferrets need to be kept in a room that gets natural light only, so their systems can regulate. In Europe, the weather is cooler, thus allowing these animals to be kept outside in a more natural environment. Adrenal disease is not an issue with ferrets living there. Hot, humid climates are not preferable for these animals, either.


A pet reptile can mean many things. Some of the most common are bearded dragons, snakes, and iguanas. These pets require elaborate setups to mimic their natural environment. They can be extremely expensive maintain. These pets often spend the majority of their time in cages, as they can be easily lost. Lizards can be fitted to a harness and leash. This allows them to roam a little more. They can only stay out a short period of time, however, due to their body temperature requirements.

Reptiles are cold blooded and cannot regulate their own body temperature. In the wild, they must go out in the sun to bask. They may move to a cooler spot when they are too warm. Humidity is an issue for some lizards. Bearded dragons need to have their humidity under control. Too much can cause them to become ill. They are native to desert areas in Australia. This makes it difficult to maintain them in the United States and other areas around the world. They need heat lamps, ultraviolent lamps, and humidity monitors to stay safe. Food is often served live, in the way of insects. These must be purchased. Catching them in your backyard could expose your lizard to pesticides or other toxins.

Snakes also need to be warm in a basking spot or on a warming pad. Live prey is necessary for these to survive. Mice must be purchased from a reputable source and given to them already dead in most cases. Many captive animals have trouble killing their own prey.


When it comes to birds, people seem to all want something colorful. These often come from exotic geographic locations, like South America. Parrots are extremely popular. They seem to enjoy their humans and can learn to talk. Birds in homes, however, must go through life without flying freely. They are caged much of the time. Birds travel in flocks in the wild. Life in a home can be very isolating for them. We often get two dogs so they have a friend, but rarely consider the effect of an only bird. Birds may also feel frustrated on a daily basis due to confinement in a small area. People opt to rehome birds that throw “tantrums” due to this frustration. Worse yet, some owners simply let their bird fly free. They stand no chance of survival in a completely different country.

Many people never ask how their exotic bird got to their pet store. These must be shipped to the stores from far away. This means long hours of travel in a confined area. Birds often undergo extreme trauma during this process. Their wings may be clipped to keep them from flying. Their beaks are often taped shut as well. There are often fatalities during this process. This means that more are taken from the natural environment. When demand increases, the natural population can become endangered. This messes with ecosystems.


Turtles are loved by many, especially children. Small turtles are often a first pet. These animals, however, have many special needs. Anything that lives in a water tank is going to get expensive. Turtles are no exception to this rule. The cage must be the right size and have filters and thermometers.  Turtles need to swim freely and enjoy sunning themselves. None of this can happen in a small tank. They can also easily carry diseases, making many owners hesitant to ever hold them. They usually end up alone in a dirty tank.

Opting for a tortoise can help eliminate the tank issue. A tortoise lives in basically dry environment. These can still carry salmonella, however. Regular handwashing is key, when owning a tortoise. A major issue with tortoises is the fact that they live an extremely long time. Most family pets last no longer than 10 or 15 years. A tortoise can live up to 100 years. The normal range for a pet tortoise is between 50 and 100 years. These pets outlive the parents and children, both, in a family. This is the most dangerous part for a tortoise. They may have nowhere to go at some point and get left to fend for themselves. It takes a lot of planning to make sure a tortoise lives out its life in safety. Not many people plan 100 years ahead for their pet.

Exotic animals can be extremely interesting and get along fine with humans. They are, however, often shipped to habitats that are nothing like their natural ones. This can be detrimental to their physical and mental health. Many are also mistreated during breeding and shipping. It is important to have a full understanding of the needs of any pet you bring home, especially and exotic one.

Editor's Picks

reset password

Back to
log in