Pet Care Corner: Why the SPCA is opposed to the keeping of exotic or wild animals as pets

These animals may be held in unacceptable conditions, such as in areas or cages that are too small, or areas that are unsuitable to the type of exotic or wild animal being held.

“All these complaints are investigated by our inspectorate to ensure that there are no animal welfare contraventions taking place, says the SPCA’s Maggie Mudd.

Here are a few reasons why not to keep such animals as pets.

  • Every year a variety of sources provide millions of wild animals to the exotic pet trade. These animals are captured from their natural habitat, with babies being forcibly removed from their mothers, sometimes using the most inhumane methods. Every year countless parrots and reptiles suffer and even die on their journey to the pet trade.
  • Simply put – exotic and wild animals do not make good companions. They require special care, housing and diet and can also pose a safety and health risks to their owners or any other people coming into contact with them.
  • Despite what animal traders may say, appropriate care for these animals requires considerable expertise, specialised facilities and a lifelong dedication to the animals. They often grow to be larger and stronger or more dangerous than the owner expected or can manage.
  • Individuals possessing exotic animals as pets often attempt to change the nature of the animal rather than the nature of the care being provided. This can result in animals being held in small, barren enclosures, cages or tanks and exhibiting signs of stereotypical behaviour or even being starved into ‘submission’ or the painful maiming of the animals, such as by declawing or tooth removal.
  • Exotic or wild animals are inherently dangerous. Children are most at risk but adults are also in danger of being bitten or mauled by exotic animals or strangled by large snakes.
  • Many exotic animals are carriers of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be passed onto humans) – these range from the herpes B virus (which can be fatal to humans) to salmonella, which can be caught from reptiles and amphibians.
  • The global wildlife trade is threatening some species of wild animals in their native habitats with extinction.
  • Wild or exotic animals are not domesticated simply by being captive born or hand-raised. By nature they are self-sufficient and are best left alone. The instinctive behaviour of these animals makes them unsuitable as pets.

Having any animal as a pet means being responsible for providing appropriate and humane care. Where wild animals are concerned, meeting this responsibility is usually impossible and people and animals can both suffer the consequences.

Ischke de Jager

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