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How Different Is Exotic vs. Traditional Animal Care?

Pets are the perfect addition to any household and make great companions for people of all ages, but not everyone is content with the traditional dog and cat. For some, the perfect pet is a chinchilla or a showy chameleon who likes to perch up high.

When it comes to exotic animals, you need to ensure that you’re giving them the care they need. Just like dogs and cats, exotic pets need ample attention and special care.

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How Different Is Exotic Animal Care From Traditional Animal Care?

Despite what you may think, the basics of exotic animal care are generally similar to that of traditional pets. However, the details will look different, and you need to pay attention to the specific needs of your exotic pet.

A Suitable Environment

Depending on your pet, you will need to provide specific enclosure conditions so that they can be happy and comfortable. Reptiles and lizards will need heat and UVB lamps. Sugar gliders will want something to jump from. No matter what your pet is, ensure you have all the right things to accommodate them.

Even if you plan on letting your pet run around the house, you’ll still need to ensure it is warm enough. Many exotic animals have very specific temperature requirements, chinchillas and hedgehogs included, and exposure to temperatures too cold or too hot could kill them. As not everyone will want to keep their entire home warm, having a cage is always a good idea.


Exotic animals will need different food from just kibble. It’s important that you look up their dietary needs to ensure your pet is staying healthy. If you’re unable or unwilling to buy them the right food, then you put their lives in danger.

Every animal has different nutritional needs, so talk to our vet about how you should feed your exotic pet in order to keep them healthy.


If you put your pet in a cage without anything to do, it will naturally get very boring. Just like dogs and cats, exotic pets need enrichment. They need something to play with, run around with, and explore. For some pets, this may mean little burrows or huts to hide in. For others, little plastic balls are fun for them to roll around.

No matter what type of animal you get, it’s important to keep it entertained and happy. They don’t want to spend day after day sitting in an empty cage, and if they do, their lifespan will be much, much shorter with a low quality of life.

Habits and Behaviors

Before you get your exotic pet, do some research about their behaviors. Some pets do better with a companion, while others will do fine on their own. If you know this ahead of time, it will help you provide your pet with a better, less stressful life.

Another thing to know is whether your pet is nocturnal. Hedgehogs are most active at night, while parrots are active during the day. Chinchillas like dawn best, and snakes will vary depending on the species.

Knowing your pet’s natural habits and behaviors will help you adjust to caring for it. If your pet likes to be awake during the night, then you shouldn’t be forcing it out of its cage during the day so that it can play with you. This will make it stressed and can upset its natural behavior.


Exotic animals will need special care, but the basics aren’t too different from caring for traditional pets. As long as you know what your pet needs ahead of time, you’ll be able to care for it properly and give it a good home. Call us today and see our vets if you need any specific advice on how to care for your exotic pet.

Author: Santiago Diaz
As a veterinarian focused exclusively on avians, exotics, and wildlife, Dr. Díaz has lectured widely, including at a National Veterinary Conference, the Merck Merial Conference, the Morris Animal Foundation Conference, and at various veterinary technician schools throughout Florida. ​