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Strange pets strike popularity with teens

SUN.| 05-02-21 | FEATURES

     Exotic pets are a growing American fad. An exotic pet is a pet that is rare or unusual to keep, or thought of as a wild species rather than as a pet. Many Celebrities have contributed to their popularity. Justin Bieber has a monkey, George Clooney has a pig, Paris Hilton has a kinkajou and Reese Witherspoon has several donkeys. 

     Preparing for an exotic pet is crucial for both the sake of the pet and the owner. Often when not given the chance to prepare, pet caring can quickly become very difficult. In some cases, people do not plan on purchasing an exotic pet, but instead encounter one and decide to rescue it. Exotic pets are also commonly received as gifts. In these situations, preparing is not a choice.Rose freshman Carson Fraley received her bearded dragon who she named Tiggs, 10 years ago as a Christmas gift so caring for her pet was challenging.

     “I was not well prepared, given that he was a gift,” Fraley said. “I had never had a pet before so it definitely took some time learning to care for him, but after a while, it became a routine, and now we are completely adjusted.”

     Providing appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship are all responsibilities of a pet owner, none of which are time consuming, but completing all of them successfully can become a lengthy task when one owns a pet that has lived in a different environment their entire life. Having an exotic pet may seem like a cool idea, but if its 


Photo by Kemorah Ullah

owner is not responsible and patient, the pet has little opportunity to thrive. Rose senior Charles Schmidt has owned three Cockatiel birds and currently has one named Bird, so he has plenty of experience with exotic animals.

     “You have to learn to respect their boundaries and gain their trust which requires patience because you never know how long it might take,” Schmidt said. “If you’re willing to put in the work, I would absolutely recommend getting one, but you have to be willing to put in the work.”

     Once an owner develops a good relationship with their pet, many aspects of both the pet and the owner’s life much easier. Setting a routine is beneficial for the pet in their first couple of years of being in a new environment, but once the pet is used to their environment the need for a routine is not necessary.

     “I feed Bird when I wake up then usually at some point in the day I’ll take her out and we’ll just walk around the house or she’ll come hang out with me in my room,” Schmidt said. “Other than that, she usually just does her own thing.”

     Owning an exotic pet is a major responsibility and the decision to get one should not be taken lightly, they are not your standard pet, exotic pets require a special level of care for the safety of both the pet and its owner. Although exotic pets are growing in popularity, Fraley and Schmidt understand it is imperative to fully research and understand the responsibilities that go into owning an exotic pet before making the decision to get one.

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