Reptiles and other exotic pets

Exotic pet species, like reptiles and other wild animals in captivity, have the same needs as they would in the wild. So their environmental, dietary and behavioural needs can be challenging.

Before deciding to have an exotic pet, make sure you've done plenty of research before committing to taking one home, as they can have more complex needs than your usual domestic pet. However complex, owners must meet their exotic animal's needs by law under the Animal Welfare Act.

Exotic pets have complex needs

We urge anyone considering an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal's needs and whether they're a realistic pet. Make sure you consider the following before getting a reptile...

Their environment

Many exotics need a carefully controlled environment. For example, they may require specialised heating and lighting or they may become ill. Their home must allow for natural behaviour, such as burrowing, climbing or basking. Some reptiles can grow to a large size too, so you'll need to consider the size of your enclosure or get a new one as they get bigger.

Lifespan and diet

Reptiles can live longer than you might expect, so make sure you'll be able to commit to this. They'll also most likely need specialist food which can be expensive once you work out how much they eat.

Company

Find out if the animal needs to be kept alone or with others, social animals can't be kept alone as this will damage their health and wellbeing.

Lifestyle 

Will the animal's behaviour fit in with your lifestyle? They might be active at night (nocturnal) or during the day (diurnal).

Specialist care

Is there a specialist vet for the species nearby who can treat this animal if they become sick? Some exotic pets will also need a licence or other legal paperwork to keep them, so check this before getting one.

Where to find information on keeping exotic pets

We offer information on the following pet reptiles:

All of our care sheets can also be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Find out more by reading specialist books and leaflets, speaking to a local exotics vet and looking online for advice from a reputable source.

Be aware of the issues

We're opposed to the cruel wild-caught animal trade, so making sure your exotic pet hasn't been taken from their home in the wild is important. We're also opposed to some exotic species, such as primates, being kept as pets as they have extremely complex needs that can't be met in a home environment.

Our commitment to improving exotic animal welfare is outlined in our fifth pledge, which is part of our overall mission to improve the lives of all animals. We've produced a report on understanding the motivations of beginner reptile owners.

More information

Our concerns about keeping exotics as pets

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