Sorry kids, you can have a pet bunny but not an iguana
Whatever happened to the cute attraction of a cuddly hamster or the irresistible eyes of a tiny kitten? Nowadays kids are banging on about exotics when it comes to their choice of pet. A python or an iguana has replaced the fluff ball to become a child’s requisite scaly friend.
I’m not one of those to ‘goo’ and ‘aww’ over Geri’s mollycoddled shitzu. You won’t find me swooning over pet carriers that cost a month’s salary, doe-eyed at nauseating accessories covered in hearts and sparkly diamantes, and personalised collars that light up in your pet’s cringeworthy name. No, to me pet pampering and big fluffy fur is all pointless and naff commercialisation that I’m just not into.
But exotic pets – reptiles, snakes, birds of paradise and even monkeys – are definitely a no-no. They are not domestic animals, like cats, rabbits and dogs, and should not be kept as such. These are wild creatures that come from very specialised habitats that are virtually impossible to replicate in artificial housing in city dwellings. They are unpredictable and incapable of being fully tamed. It’s a total exploitation of the animal and utterly inappropriate for the child.
Oh well, you might think, bringing up your children with any animal is bound to provide a great opportunity to foster positive, caring and responsible attitudes. As long as you do your research beforehand, acquire them from a reputable place and learn a bit about their diet and habits, the chance to raise and enjoy such a rare species must be an educating and fascinating opportunity for any child.
Besides, more and more exotic and wild animals are making their way into people’s homes as pets these days, so what’s the big deal? No, absolutely no. No amount of commitment or compassion can justify the capture and captivity of these animals for human amusement and commercial profit. Any animal lover would not even consider trying to make one fit their modern lifestyle of convenience. An exotic animal can never truly become a human companion.
Potential pet owners must understand that the trade in exotics for pets is cruel and destructive. Many of these animals are torn from the wild, a high number die in the process and many more suffer enormously in transport only to spend a life languishing in conditions far removed from their natural environments and that fail to meet their highly specific physical, behavioural and psychological needs.
Not only is it cruel to the animals but they pose serious dangers to human health and safety too. They are often carriers of diseases which can transfer to humans and can be fatal. Exotic creatures are dangerous, even those that appear to be friendly and well habituated can easily turn and attack with the potential to cause serious, even fatal injury, with children all too often the victims.
It’s not as if there is any shortage in domestic pets – rescue centres across the country are overflowing with abandoned dogs, mistreated cats and neglected rabbits crying out for a loving home. For these animals, even a cursory gesture of attention sends them positively bonkers with delight and that’s what breaks my heart. While all these desperately forlorn but so eager pets go unloved and too many end up being destroyed, people insist on forcing wild species to live pitiable lives in deplorable conditions for a novelty.
It fills me with despair to hear about exotic pet collectors who keep these wild-at-heart creatures cramped in cages and tanks stacked up in their lounges and bedrooms. For every exotic that has made it into the pet trade, remember the same number have died in the process. They give up the spirit for living and die after a short distressed life of immense anguish and repression. The antithesis of an animal lover, surely.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet for your child, remember that it is the fluffy cute ones that will enjoy being stroked and cuddled. They will flourish in the love and nurture that you want to encourage in your child. Unless you are planning to get a domesticated animal that can make an appropriate pet, you shouldn’t be getting one at all.Tagged in: animal cruelty, cat, dog, pet care, pets
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