Reptiles and other exotic pets

Exotic pets, such as reptiles and other wild animals in captivity, have the same needs as they would in the wild. This means that caring for them properly can be difficult. Before deciding to get an exotic pet, do plenty of research, as they can have more complex needs than your usual domestic pet. Here's what to consider if you're thinking about getting an exotic animal.

Some exotic animals shouldn't be kept as pets

We're opposed to the cruel wild-caught animal trade, so make sure your exotic pet hasn't been taken from their home in the wild. 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.

Read more about our commitment to improving exotic animal welfare, which is part of our overall mission to improve the lives of all animals.

What to consider before buying an exotic pet

If you'e considering keeping an exotic pet, we urge you 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...

Environment - many exotic pets need a carefully controlled environment. For example, they may need specialised heating and lighting to stop them from becoming ill. Their home needs to allow for natural behaviour, such as burrowing, climbing or basking. Some reptiles can grow to a large size, so you'll need to consider the size of your enclosure or get a new one as they get bigger.

  • Lifespan - reptiles can live longer than you might expect, so make sure you'll be able to commit to this. 
  • Diet - they'll most likely need specialist food, which can be expensive once you work out how much they eat.
  • Company - find out whether 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 or during the day. 
  • Specialist care - is there a specialist vet for the species nearby who can treat this kind of animal if they become sick? 
  • Paperwork - 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 have guides on the following pet reptiles:

You can download all our care sheets at the bottom of this page, and you could also read specialist books and leaflets, speak to a local exotics vet and look online for advice from a reputable source.

Want to learn more? Read our report on understanding the motivations of beginner reptile owners, and find out more about our concerns about keeping exotics as pets.

Share this...