No Dogs Allowed

Students Share Benefits, Challenges Of Owning Exotic Pets


Tate Hall, junior, and Logan Millett, junior, are holding Logan's fox she got from the vet

Abby Kovacs, Writer

No Dogs Allowed

She’s been waiting for this moment. She gets in her cramped black car after school and zooms away. Her car comes to a halt at the pet store. As she enters Tractor Supply, a multitude of smells bombard her from different types of animal products to freshly cleaned cages. The animal with the fluffy white feathers and small slim beak catches her eye as she examines the chickens in their cages.

People own a variety of uncommon pets ranging from chinchillas, tarantulas, snakes, turtles, goats, and more. Although these pets are fascinating, they can come with challenges.

In an article on “The Pet Health Network”, Dr. Laurie Hess says that “With their unique behaviors and complicated social interactions, both with each other and with us, [unusual pets] really can teach us all sorts of new information”.

Logan Millett, junior, has horses, raccoons, squirrels, and foxes that she cares for before releasing them back into the wild. She claims that caring for these animals with their odd personalities teaches her about being mindful.

“[The animals] aren’t as mean as people think they are. [Having them] taught me that you can’t have certain animals out at the same time because some [animals] don’t get along and some think others are food,” Millett said.

Kane Burnell, junior, has a ball python snake which he has had for nine or 10 years. Burnell says he has no fear of reptiles and plans on getting more in the future.

Kane Burnell, junior has had his ball python snake for nine years
Photo by Kane Burnell

“My snake is like a man’s best friend except he is a reptile, but everything has emotion,” Kane Burnell, junior, said. “[I know he has emotions because] he will sometimes hide his head, showing fear or try to hide. I take very good care of him [by] measuring him every time he is shedding.”

However, having an exotic pet rather than a standard dog or cat is a completely new experience as said in Hess’s article.

In an article from The Clermont Sun, Dr. Dan Meakin says that exotic pets are very interesting to interact with and in some cases, they can produce very intense interactions. He also explains that they are interesting because they are most likely the only ones that have the exotic pet.

Some people would act [afraid] because it’s very unusual for a boy to carry a snake in public like Food Lion, the Shell Station and other stores,” Burnell said. “Some people loved [the snake], some were shy, scared or frightened but they still wanted to pet it.

Logan Millett is bottle-feeding her baby raccoon, Rigby Photo by Logan Millett

Some conquered their fear of snakes and some didn’t, but I found it kind of interesting showing other people that it’s great to have an exotic pet.”

In her article, Hess clarified that these exotic pets can often be a “double-edged sword” because of their somewhat difficult traits and needs such as special housing, heat sources, and food. According to Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, it can sometimes be difficult to care for certain animals because many vets do not know how to treat exotic pets.

Millett states that there are challenges finding supplies for her unusual pets.

Logan Millett is holding her baby deer, Copper
Photo by Logan Millett


“Yes, [it’s hard to find appropriate food for them]. For the raccoons, we have to use puppy milk that isn’t for them. For the squirrels we have to feed them puppy milk too,” Millett said.

In addition to their special dietary needs, these animals also can have challenging personalities.

Danae Thomas, junior, has a peacock, a goat, ducks, chickens, turkeys, donkeys, horses, and a squirrel as she explains the challenges she encounters.

“[It’s a challenge] when the goat eats my door […] because I have to get a new door,” Thomas said.

These animals can also be a danger to their owners.

According to an article by Live Science, there have been 75 deaths from exotic pets from 1990- 2011.

“One time my mom let out our fox and the deer was right there and the fox chased the deer around the house,” Millett said. “There have been animals killed and that’s not good.”

Besides the dangers that come with these odd pets, they are overall a great experience to have.

“[Having an exotic pet] is a new experience overall because you have to learn how to provide for [the animal] and every animal’s needs are different. No one knows what the animal is like until you have it,” Millett said.