I wish I could say it was news, but groups like the ASPCA and HSUS have long been lobbying to ban, or at the very least drastically limit exotic animal ownership. Ignoring the millions of successful cases, and only using the bad things that hit the press as all the justification they need. Unfortunately, there's no well funded lobby for exotic pet owners, and grassroots organizations with no professional affiliations are almost never taken seriously - and email outrage is completely useless. So law makers never really get both sides of the story to make a truly informed decision, and just get pressured into passing laws that make little sense, nor do they really do anything to solve the actual problem - which isn't exotic pet ownership - it's people who don't know what they're getting into, getting in over their head.
Not to say these organizations don't do a lot of good too.
Owners are the real problem. Because some folks don't take the time to learn how to manage the animals they have in a responsible manner, the animals suffer, it makes news, ...and then all exotic owners take the hit for it.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where its easier to cater to the lowest common denominator than it is to educate or legislate sensibly. Politicians listen to organizations like the SPCA before they go off and make some kneejerk legislation that hurts responsible owners.
I think the place to start is where ever there are new, inexperienced owners. Here on PT is as good as anywhere. How many times have we seen some owner come on that just got an animal and now wants to find out how to take care of it?
It's a problem, and it's not getting better. Owners of exotics are in for a bumpy ride in the next few years.
when i got my iguana i thought for sure i knew everything there is to know about raising it, i bought books, read websites, and then i got him and felt like i knew nothing but what to feed it and what lights it needed.
i think exotics should have to have permits just like in some places cats and dogs.
To be honest, so many people can't manage to take care of a cat or a dog, which is fairly easy. I really wish they would limit more exotic pets. I think that the average person thinks that most pet owners do a pretty good job, but I think that most exotic owners really have very little idea what they're doing.
They just pick up the bag with the picture of their animal and feed away, not having any idea what that animal actually needs to be healthy. I'm sorry to say, I'd rather prevent the suffering of thousands of animals than to support the "right" of a very small minority to have a special pet.
Jennicat, I agree with you in general. But I really don't think we have the capabilities to truly monitor possession of said pets. We would run into situations which are just as bad, if not worse, for these animals. Irresponsibly bred exotics being sold on the black market for ridiculously high prices. Wild-caught animals being shipped secretly from other countries. If made illegal, these animals could become forms of currency! For the present, I'm not really sure there's a reasonable solution to this problem at all.
That's why I think that education programs and easily accessible bases of expert knowledge are the best thing that we can offer at this point.
That's very true, unfortunately. However, laws banning the ownership of exotics would at least give animal control some leverage to remove animals from a bad situation.
At current, as long as there's food and water and no visible abuse (like being hit or burned), most ACs will not remove an exotic animal from a home. Even if you're feeding your sugar glider a diet consisting solely of bacon, or feeding your parrot a diet comprised of hot dogs.
Education, education, education! That is the only real solution. Not only do potential owners, and those who are already owners need to be educated, but animal control officers and state fish & wildlife officers also need to be educated. Anyone who may come into contact with these animals need to have some level of knowledge, or have access to a means to gain it. Some states have done it right, like Florida. They implemented a permit system (at least for snakes), which requires veterinarian references. They have zoologists on staff who know how to deal with various species. Does that stop all the idiots? Certainly not, but it does help. Its sets certain guidelines for secure caging and proper care, and does weed out the vast majority of the "Hee hee hee, I have a cobra in my living room." kind of unfortunate choices. There is a major problem with things like local animal control right now, if they deem an animal to be in danger, they can remove it - without any knowledge of how to care for said animal themselves. Exotics can go from one bad care situation to another... and exotics generally are not adopted out to knowledgeable people - I mean, how can the uneducated judge a suitable adopter? In the end, euthanasia is the fastest, and cheapest method of solving the "problem".
I have a big issue with the people who say "Well, I don't mind if they ban some, because some things don't make good pets.", because it never stays at just some. Once they think they can get away with one ban or one restriction, they try something else, it never stops. These are also the same people who are also pushing for things like dog breed bans. So many people never seem to take issue with infringement on their rights until it directly affects them, and that is most unfortunate. Do all exotics make good pets for all people? Most certainly not, but banning is not a real solution, it's a way of sweeping the issue under the carpet and hoping it goes away. It is a lowest common denominator answer to a most complex question.
I agree with ravnos. What people need is to be educated and to know how to take proper care of the animal (exotic or not). Banning isn't really the way to go because it leads to all sorts of other problems like the black market, not being able to seek vet help if you have one in case you get a fine or get sent to jail, etc and there are loads of non exotic animals that are also mistreated. So really the problem does lie in education.
I am not a big fan of keeping certain exotic animals as even with all the knowledge in the world it would be hard to keep them perfectly happy. I just think some animals aren't meant to be pets. But I don't think banning is the solution.
I agree that education is a huge component, but the task is staggeringly impossible. Look how many people STILL won't spay/neuter their cats and dogs, and there is an incredibly aggressive spay/neuter lobby. Heck, around here we have several pretty well funded low-cost spay/neuter clinics, one which is even mobile, and yet there are still 3 kill shelters operating at full blast. I know of nowhere in the country that is not actively euthanizing cats and dogs right now.
Education is definitely a component, but I think that limiting ownership of harder to care for exotics definitely has it's place. Especially if it stops pet stores from selling them. In this area, the chinchilla population has boomed since they became popular as a pet store animal. They're now even found in the local pounds. I believe that sugar gliders will be next because everybody and their mom thinks that they've "got" to keep a male and female together and have a few joeys.
Our animal controls also intake snakes on a fairly regular basis as well, but I believe that most of these come from the "reptile and exotic animal expo" that opens up twice a year here to broker animals.
My big problem with all of this is that it's typically not people who are educated about exotic pets who make the laws. I definitely think it would be great for some exotic pets to be restricted. Look at all the idiots out there who have wildly agressive pubescent monkeys because the baby monkey in the diaper was cute. Or that guy who had a tiger or some other large cat in his apartment for years! That's just dumb. Not to mention the hundreds of people with little experience or safety training who keep venomous snakes! But soo many of the laws are sooo stupid because people who don't understand animals make laws about them. I mean in TN it's legal to have a pet lynx but not a pet box turtle. What the heck!
My problem with these issues is that it puts the control of all exotic petowners even informed experienced ones in the hands of people with no education or experience with exotic pets. I mean read that article. They don't just want to make it so I can't have a monkey or an eyelash viper, they want to take away my leopard gecko! They want to take away pot bellied pigs which actually are domesticated as pets and not at all the same thing as a wild exotic. If you put control like that in these people's hands they won't just have the really dangerous animals out of reach, they'll potentially have everything that's not a dog or cat.
Wouldn't it be better to have educational campaigns that taught people, especially young people that it is wrong to keep any pet (dog, cat, hamster, pot bellied pig, etc) if you haven't first done extensive research on that animal and made sure that you can provide for all of its needs? Does it really help anything to target "weird pets"? What about all the leopard geckos I had once that were very happy and well cared for, what about the rats I have now? What about all the people who do just have dogs, cats, or hamsters and don't provide for most of their basic needs because they never researched their needs?
Well, I'm not too sure about what to say about this. I have two sides on this case. I think that certain animals which are totally not adapted to the domestic life, like, monkeys, venomeous reptiles and bears ect should be ban for the good of the animals, unless whoever is keeping them is for a good reason or nursing them back to health and with a lisence or permit or whatever. I disagree about the sugar gliders, I think that they are quite a domestic animal, but I do also agree that they need a lot more space than given sometimes.
I beleive that animals we domesticate are our responsibilty and if we can't handle them, than you need to get them rehomed or you shouldn't have had any pet in the first place. However, I have concidered rehoming one of my rats, Husky, because he is being aggressive, however, I won't because I'm the one who bought him and therefore, my responsibilty, no one elses and I feel I shouldn't pass on something that I've bought up, to another person, who may still have trouble with him, so there are all these things that prop up which are yes's and no's, so it's kind of a... depends on the situation moment thing.
But I know that if I work with him, than maybe he'll get better, it just takes time and patients for me to get him to show affection, just like, if we want these animals domesticated, than it will take time, patients and lots of years to breed them to 'pet' standards, if you know what I mean.
Most places do consider them exotic, though most historians think that they were probably domesticated before the cat, and all ferrets kept as pets in the US are captive bred, and the chances of a modern domestic ferret surviving for long in the wild is pretty slim.