Monday, December 24, 2012

Unusual pets

Gray chinchilla

Are you considering getting a pet for your family? Many people choose dogs and/or cats, but they're not for everyone. I've known several people who are allergic and, if you live in a rental, your landlord might not let you have them. Fish are fine, but can be boring. Rodents like hamsters or gerbils are cute, but you might want something that not everyone has. If you're bored with 'normal' pets or just wonder what else is out there, here are a few exotic animals that can make good pets. You may want to check with local authorities to make sure your choice of pet is legal where you live, but most of these shouldn't be a problem.

One unusual and rather interesting pet is the chinchilla. These members of the rodent family originate in the Andes Mountains of South America and have very friendly personalities. They tend to be somewhat small-perhaps a pound and a half-so make sure your children know not to squeeze too tightly. As nice as they are, though, they will bite if provoked. It's not a good idea to feed them 'people food', especially carbohydrates, so stick mostly to the pellets from the store. They also like salt licking blocks. In terms of cleaning, they only bathe in dust, so you should get a dust bathing kit from the same place you get its food and cage. They love cardboard boxes, chew on anything that doesn't move (and some things that do) and can live up to 20 years.

If you are into lizards, geckos make great 'first pets'. Like the one in the Geico commercials, they are relatively small (about 7-9 inches at adulthood) and easy to handle. My sister had some a few years ago and it was a lot of fun to watch them climb the walls of their terrarium with their suction-cup feet! The best feed for geckos is found at pet stores, but they can have insects and fruit if you run out. Since they are nocturnal, they won't need the special UV lighting other lizards do. They are usually docile but have a tendency to squirm out of your grip if they feel threatened. Most pet stores have them and can tell you more about what they will need.

A lot of people are squeamish around rodents, especially rats. However, you don't really need to be. Rats can actually make great pets, as they are easy to train and don't bite readily. While you don't want to be too rough with them, their larger size makes them easier to handle. It's best to feed them pellets from the pet store, but they like fruits and vegetables. You can even feed them dog biscuits from time to time! One thing I should mention, though, is that they 'mark their territory' by dropping bits of urine while they roam. It's not smelly or anything, but some people don't like it and you probably don't want it on your furniture.

I'd mention tarantulas and 'de-stingered' scorpions, but I can't stand to look at them. Most other people I know can't either but, if you're a more 'brave' sort, they are found in most pet stores.

As you can see, there are plenty of pets for those of us who don't do well with dogs and cats, or who just want something different. These can be found at most pet stores, although some people might use breeders. It's always a good idea to read up on the particular species before buying, so you might want to check out's section on exotic pets Good luck!

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