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The Most Common Exotic Pets That Are Prone to Obesity

Any pet can become overweight if they aren’t taken care of properly. Yes, even your exotic pet can have weight issues or need special attention from an exotic animal hospital, especially if it is a breed that is more prone to obesity. Knowing which pets might struggle with their weight can help decrease the chances of obesity negatively contributing to their health in the long run.

The Most Common Exotic Pets That Are Prone to Obesity

Parrots

Parrots have a propensity to become overweight. If they eat too much out of boredom and don’t get enough exercise, they can develop weight problems easily.

This is something that you should pay attention to especially as your bird ages—since your parrot will be less willing to change their diet as they get older. Change its diet early to keep it away from high-fat foods and all-seed diets if you want to avoid problems with cholesterol, circulatory issues, and joint problems.

Try converting your bird to a diet based on pellets and fresh produce, and make sure to give it the time and space to fly or flap around. It’s important to set good habits for both food and exercise for your parrot.

Hedgehogs

It may be surprising to you that these tiny creatures are more prone to obesity than some other exotic species—especially when you think about how fast hedgehogs can race around the house. 

Exercise might not be too much of a problem when your hedgehog is thin, but with an improper diet, it’s a lot more difficult for your hedgehog to run around on its exercise wheel.

Your hedgehog can become obese if you feed it a lot of high-fat foods like high-carbohydrate pellets, which means that running will end up being too difficult for it. Don’t just leave out a bowl of food for it to snack on all day, and make sure that it has the space to move around too.

Rats

Your pet rat will eat everything that you give it, which you might already know if you’ve been feeding it a little bit of everything. Rats usually eat whatever you give them, but that doesn’t mean that you should give them everything.

Feeding your rat too much and leaving it to hang out in their cages for hours a day can lead to it becoming obese, leading to cardiac and musculoskeletal problems. The best thing that you can do for your rat is to balance out its diet with pellets, vegetables, and fruit, and also by having it work a little bit for its food.

Let your rat solve a puzzle or run through a maze to find its food, which will help boost their mental stimulation while you’re at it. Rats are especially good at losing weight through exercise, so if your rat is already a little overweight, a little exercise program is a great way for it to lose weight safely.

Turtles

You might not think that a turtle can have weight issues at all, but they do indeed struggle with their weight. An overweight turtle is a turtle without the space to hide back in their shell because their limbs are too big. If your turtle is too big, it’ll struggle just to even swim once it gets in the water.

If your turtle lives in a small tank without a lot of room to swim, not to mention some high-starch pellets, it’s more likely that it will become overweight. You’ll want to limit its pellets and instead supplement its diet with vitamin A vegetables like carrots, peppers, and sweet potatoes. You can even get your turtle to exercise a little more by having it catch live food like guppies as it swims around.

Conclusion

You need to keep your exotic pet healthy,  just like you would keep any other pet healthy—especially when these exotic pets are more prone to obesity than others. Make sure that you feed your pet right, and that you get them the exercise and stimulation they need to stay with you for a long time. 



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. ​

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