Nowadays, it is easier to keep animals than ever before. There have been advances in enclosures, equipment, balanced foods, supplementation, and so many other areas of animal care that makes caring for exotic animals simple and far less time consuming than when I was a kid. However, with all of these advancements, there is still one part of animal care that remains just as difficult as it always has been….
This is the most common question we are asked here at Josh's Frogs, and there are thousands upon thousands of animals available to care for… But which one suits you? There are so many aspects to take into consideration. For example, you want to ensure that the animal you pick has a care level you are able to give. You also want to make sure you have the time to give the animal you choose in order to keep it healthy and happy. Space is another consideration; you will want to ensure you have the space you need to care for your animal.
Animals can be wonderful to keep in your home, but if you choose incorrectly, they can be a nightmare waiting to happen. Here are the key points you need to consider before purchasing your animal.
First and foremost, can you afford the animal and the proper setup? Don’t forget monthly costs it takes to feed the animal.
Some animals require a lot of space to remain happy and healthy. A Red Tegu, for instance, needs an enclosure the size of a small bedroom in many cases to provide the temperature gradients and other features that will make the Tegu feel at home. In contrast, a pet hissing cockroach can be kept in a tiny 8x8x8 enclosure and be perfectly content in its corner.
Some animals are much easier than others to handle. This is a huge decision for many people because there are two main reasons people get pets - to handle or to watch. There are several types of animals that are good for both, but in many instances, you either end up with a pet that can be handled or one that is beautiful and fun to watch.
Do you have the time to keep the enclosure clean, complete basic care like feeding and watering, and do you have the time to properly socialize your animal?
Many people forget this part. It is important to ensure you have a veterinarian who is able to see the animal you are looking to get.
Some animals are inherently loud. Dogs bark, cats meow, but some frogs sing at the top of their lungs all night long. Some people love the ambient sound of their animals, some people can tolerate it, and others don't want to hear it. Make sure you, your family, and possibly even your neighbors can handle the sounds that your animal will produce.
Many animals have special diets they can consume; others need something a little fresher. Fruit flies are a great source of nutrition for dart frogs, but they're notorious for being difficult to work with. Crickets are a great source of protein for your lizards, but when you have a group of adult crickets in your apartment, it can sound like the deafening South American jungle nights. Be prepared to provide good homes for the insects, and tolerate all of the noises and work that comes with animals that require live prey.
Many exotic animals require warmer temperatures to remain healthy. Sometimes, the easiest way to do this is by setting your thermostat higher. Amphibians, in particular, often need higher humidity and require a misting regimen to keep them healthy. Some animals are sensitive to chemicals that are in the air - you may need to adjust your cleaning and air fresheners of the room your animal is in.
Some animals require permits or may be regulated by ordinances by your local government or state.
Did the question “What animals is right for me?” seem like it just got a little bit bigger? It's a lot to think about! Fortunately, there have been numerous animals in the pet industry that have proven themselves to be great starter pets. Starter pets are typically pets that are relatively low cost, low maintenance, and easy to get along with. A few examples of these would be Corn Snakes, Leopard Geckos, Bearded Dragons, Crested Geckos, Gerbils, Hamsters, Parakeets, Fire belly Toads, Pac Man Frogs, and let's not forget goldfish and all of the wonderful freshwater fish that many of us started off with as kids!
Dive deep into research on the animal you are interested in! The internet has a ton of information, and Josh's Frogs How-To Guides offer a lot if insight into exotic animals as well. Learn everything there is to know about the animal in question. don't be afraid to talk to people that currently care for them and listen to the problems they have had, as well as the joy that animal has brought them.
Many people will have differing points of view on care for the same animal. This is even more extreme when you are looking into an animal that is fairly rare in the industry. When I am asked what the “Right Way” to care for an animal is, I always first tell them:
“Animal care is like driving to Detroit; There are a million ways to get there. Some take longer than others, some have more traffic - each way, however, has different pros and cons. Taking longer may lead to wonderful views of rolling hills or beautiful buildings, while choosing the route with more traffic may just get you there much faster! It is up to you to decide what route is right for you.”
Keep in mind that most tasks have multiple ways of being completed correctly. Talk to trusted sources and build your own care plan. Many times, this is easy because there are great care sheets out there that, with a few crosschecks, you can verify are legitimate, complete, and able to help you provide excellent care to your animal.
When you finally pick your animal soul mate, make sure you take your time bringing your animal home. Many times, the longer road of setting up a creative and beautiful enclosure will not only create a more enjoyable sight in your home, but will likely increase your animal's health and happiness by giving them more places to hide, play, and makes them feel more at home.
Now it's time for you to use what you've learned to narrow down what animal is best for you! Use all of the key points to ensure that the animal matches up with your needs as a caretaker. Jump into a new world of knowledge of your animal of choice, then use all of that information and creative power to create an enclosure that suits all of the animal’s needs and brings their home to your own.
Good Luck! And remember that we here at Josh's Frogs are so grateful for all of the wonderful customers we get to work with every day! Your support allows us to help countless people become just a little more connected with nature. We are always here to help guide you and provide you with high quality animals and products for all of your pet needs!