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Exotic Pets Facts from G&K

   Many people think that owning an Exotic Pet is cool and it can be but it can also not be. The Exotic pets you see on TV like bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, wolves and others are beautiful and those that have them love them. Many pet stores make excellent money from selling them. They are however called Exotic for a reason, they are different and so are the keepers. Keepers. Keepers is a more accurate title. Most will tell you, they are not owners and way from masters but are family members or keepers. Yes, it's true that we have several Exotic pets that are not for sale and do sell a few Exotic Breeds of regular animals. It takes a totally different type of person to deal with Exotic Pets day in day out. These people are animal crazy people that have fallen in love with the animals they care for. I know I'm one of them and always have been. I also know what I am passionate about and what's safe for my kids to be around.

  The facts are simple, there is no finding a home if you get tired of them easily and even then they have become accustomed to you. You must be prepared for scars. You must be prepared for disappointments if you expect to master them like a dog or cat. You will be the Alpha male or Beta female, anything less and you will be hurt or killed. As that parent you will be treated as you are treated. Basically if you rule with an iron fist you will be hurt or killed eventually. Even as a loving primary you will still get injured and those people around them will as well. Sometimes I think my scars have scars but most aren't bad ones and so does my kids. It's cute to tell your kids their baby brother is a dog or cat as they seem to be. It is deadly to place this same position on an Exotic pet for you child. Sibling rivalry between and animals is natural but with a human child is a disaster for the child and you as well. To consider them equal is the worse and may be your child or pet's last mistake you make. Actually I don't even like referring to them as pets. This is the wrong term for exotic animal. Some should never be kept as pets. 

   Exotic pets are usually a wild species. I have had the pleasure of playing with many different species from baby Lions to bears to wolves to monkeys. We even at one time had wolves and they are great from my perspective but are not the family dog. I still have a scar where one bit through my right hand which was totally my fault. Wolves live by the pack. They do not guard or even walk a straight pace beside you. We still have a Raccoon and considered breeding them when we first got him. It didn't take long to realize that they are not for most people. It's like having "Curious George" 24/7 with a small disaster coming.  You can not turn them loose and with a lifespan of 30 years most of us don't even stay married that long. To tame a wild species doesn't mean that it will be a replacement of you dog, cat or bird. Tame in exotic simply may mean that your not the next meal and some species never tame while others revert back to instinct when they grow older. 

   Before you buy something wild you should learn all about that species and ever aspect of care they need. If you can not fulfill any of all the needs, yours included, don't buy them. It doesn't mean you not an animal nut, just possibly that you are and have enough sense of love and respect for the animal that you don't buy it. I thought I'd like a monkey and I do love them but after researching them and being around some friends of mine that have them I know they are not my passion. While they were fun to play with I tired of them within a few hours. The same is with Fallow deer. I couldn't have them but because I also love my children and seeing them gutted during rut wasn't an appealing thought or acceptable risk. I have wanted many different animals I haven't got due to one reason or another. Mostly because I still have kids home and for their safety. Perhaps one day I will get another bobcat or some reindeer or fallow deer as my kids get older remembering the lessons Bob and others taught them. All my kids seem to have the ability to talk with the animals and nature in general. 

   If you think a newborn baby needs care and attention try a very active creature. There is a common respect and that includes your learning of how they communicate and using their communication as much if not more than yours. If this statement didn't make sense you are nowhere near ready for a regular pet and far far away from exotic. I speak one human language but several animal languages. Even with that accidents happen but it reduces the occurrence. You must be able to read their body language as well as verbal language. They can't speak as you and I but do communicate quite efficiently their feelings, health and likes and dislikes, fears and desires. If you can not read their language it is not their fault. You will be injured. Even knowing how to communicate will not get you hurt. You will get hurt. If scars, stitches, Band-Aides and possibly broken bones aren't acceptable to you you should reconsider. At 43 I have been hit, bit, tossed, stomped, kicked, licked, spit one, butted, ran, clawed, spurred and pecked and it has all been worth it to me. They must be allowed to act naturally to the larger extent and most times I was at fault. I either invaded their space or did not read the signals correctly.        

   Over the years we've had many Exotic animals but never attempt to reproduce them for resale. If you think you are ready after studying and talking with people who have had or still has them then go to a breeder, that is a competent one. You will know who these people are by their reluctance to sell to you and their questions and statements. They aren't giving you the negative facts, just straight facts. In addition, all exotic species attitude will be influenced by their upbringing. Crap in, Crap out. Imagine someone placing you in a cage, strangers watching and poking at you. Being fed but not getting the needed attention or being raised in a place that is even worse. Now somebody's going to be different? A worse episode is those that starve and have them in nasty conditions. We have taken in rescue animals that have been in bad condition and these we usually keep. They will have bad attitudes that may or may not change and changing sceneries again will make them worse.  

   Exotic or wild species work on a mutual respect and trust, not blind trust. It is always a two way street and past experiences is a platform on which they judge. You will never own them and they must be lower on the family hierarchy than you or your spouse but will not usually accept more positions behinds your kids. Beware that they will compete for pecking order other than the top position. Bob, a bobcat we saved died about 5 years later from cancer. We got her very young and sick. We all still have scars from her and to this day our home has some moldings that bear her marks. We decided to leave them. If we had company over we had to put her in the bathroom or she would attack them. She went to a sibling status but also considered our kids her siblings and she got their respect and ours. Our kids had to move to the lower sibling places in her eyes. Because we had shown gentle control over Bob, she showed gentle control over the kids. A few Band-Aids and nothing ever bad. I keep Piranha which is also an Exotic species. I trust them but not a blind trust. I know that they are still a wild species and even though they have swam by my hands may times, one time they may not. So I know both my and their limitations...more importantly, I accept them and the risks. I have one large one that will turn sideways after I peck on the glass to be rubbed, but only me. Everybody else she shows her teeth when they peck the glass. I set on the ground with my Black Bellied Barbados sheep and expect the head Rams not to attack knowing if they do I have failed, not them and knowing they will never be tame like domesticated sheep. I can read their communication and know when it is safe. We own over 1,000 pets that are personally ours and I can tell you if anybody is acting funny or what mood they are in. I have learned this over the years and still learning. They teach me everyday and it is not to my tribute but theirs. 

That is why we don't sell anything Exotic except for the Piranhas and then not to just anybody.

Anthony