Keeping Exotic Pets
Dedicated to the care of exotic pets, including reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
Latest Exotic Pet Articles
Bosc Monitor Care Sheet (Varanus exanthematicus)Bosc monitors are one of the more popular large lizard species kept in captivity. Hailing from Eastern and Northern Africa, …
Feeding Ball PythonsWhen I first started to keep reptiles in the 1990’s ball pythons were still seen as something very unusual and …
Humidity for TarantulasOne of the most important keys to success when keeping tarantulas is getting their environmental conditions correct. This means that …
What Do Leaf Insects Eat?Leaf insects are herbivores, which means that they eat plant material. What’s more, the fresher this plant material is, the …
Popular Exotic Pets
If you’re just getting started keeping exotic pets then we’ve gathered together some of our most popular articles into categories below. Simply click on any group that appeals to you, to be presented with all the latest information from the site…
What Are Exotic Pets?
Exotic pets are animals that are not considered traditional pets. Many are considered “wild animals” that can be safely and successfully kept and bred by hobbyists.
Whilst there is no formal definition of what is or is not considered an exotic pet, common examples of animals currently considered “exotic” include:
Possibly the most visible type of exotic pet, a huge range of reptiles are kept by enthusiasts around the world. Increasingly, reptile keepers are actively engaged with the captive breeding of their specimens, which not only takes pressure off wild populations, but in some instances can also give rise to a host of unusual color forms (typically called “morphs”) which are rarely – if ever – seen in the wild.
Whilst venomous snakes would be included here as exotic pets, in truth the vast majority of pet snakes kept are non-venomous. Rather than killing their prey with toxins, they instead constrict their prey which makes them much safer captives. Popular examples of snakes kept as exotic pets include ball pythons, corn snakes, milk snakes and king snakes.
Lizards tend to require rather more specialist care than snakes, as many species require artificial lighting and specialist diets if they are to remain healthy in captivity. While there is an ever-growing list of species that are being successfully captive-bred, some of the most popular lizards to keep as exotic pets include the bearded dragon, leopard gecko and crested gecko.
Tortoises, turtles and terrapins have long been some of the most popular exotic pets. Unlike the more predatory snakes, with their need for animal prey, most tortoises rely on a herbivorous diet which can make them easier to care for as pets. In the past, wild tortoises were imported in huge numbers, causing significant problems with wild populations.
These days, the Convention of International Trade of Exotic Species of Flora and Fauna has largely outlawed this process. As a result, most tortoises, terrapins and turtles found in the exotic pet trade are now captive bred.
Less commonly kept than reptiles, some exotic pet keepers opt to specialize in the care of amphibians. Here there is a huge range of species available, with more being bred all the time. With wild populations suffering from habitat destruction and widespread diseases it could be argued that exotic pet keepers are helping to conserve amphibians by developing the technology and knowledge required to safely keep and breed amphibians in captivity.
Frogs & Toads
From poison dart frogs to fire bellied toads and tree frogs, the care of many frogs and toads requires specialist care and considerable experience. Many species are now being actively bred in captivity, and whilst not cheap to buy, can be purchased from passionate hobbyists.
Salamanders & Newts
From terrestrial salamanders like the fire salamander through to more aquatic newts, even among those who keep exotic pets the newts and salamanders are an unusual and exciting group of animals that deserve far greater attention.
Tropical invertebrates come in a huge range of types and sizes. They have gained huge popularity in recent decades, thanks to their exotic habits yet ease of care. With some species requiring only the most basic of equipment, exotic invertebrates can be a great entry into the hobby.
There are over 800 different species of tarantula known to science, and well over 50 of these are regularly available from breeders. There is a huge diversity among the tarantulas: they’re far from the boring brown spiders you may be thinking of. Popular examples of tarantulas include the incredible Greenbottle Blue tarantula with it’s metallic blue and green hairs, and the largest spider in the world – the Goliath Birdeater.
Popular examples of tarantulas for beginners include the Chilean Rose Hair tarantula and the Honduran Curly Hair.
It is interesting to note that tarantulas have also been affected by CITES, with controls placed on the capture and sale of wild stock from a number of genera. These days species such as the Mexican Red Knee are now regularly bred in captivity; another success story arising from the world of exotic pets.
Arguably the most alien-like exotic pet of all, praying mantis can make excellent pets. Clean in nature, fascinating to watch and coming in a wide range of shapes and colors it’s little wonder they’ve become so popular. A range of species can make excellent pets, with particularly popular examples including the Chinese mantis, European Mantis and Orchid Mantis.
Leaf insects are so-called because they resemble leaves so well that the untrained eye often can’t spot them even in a cage. Docile and easy to handle, leaf insects feed on a range of plant material in captivity, and will readily breed in the home.
Stick Insects / Walking Sticks
From the Jungle Nymph, recognised as one of the heaviest insects in the world, through to the heavily-built Macleay’s Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum) there are a huge range of different stick insects that may be kept as pets. Possibly the easiest exotic pet of all is the Indian Stick Insect, which is parthenogenetic, meaning that the females reproduce without the need to mate.
Giant African Land Snails
Often shortened simple to “GALS” these snails can achieve a shell length of some 6” in length.
These giant herbivores can grow to 30cm or more in length; quite different from the millipedes that you might find in your garden. Relatively easy to care for, unlike many other exotic invertebrates giant millipedes are easy to feed on a range of different household fruits and vegetables.
Whilst it is true that some scorpions are of medical importance, there are a huge range of species with stings no worse than that of a bee. Many scorpions can therefore be safely kept and even bred in captivity, with popular examples including the Desert Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis) and the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator).
While less popular than reptiles and amphibians as pets, a number of specialist hobbyists enjoy the care and breeding of exotic mammals. These range from the beautiful African Pygmy Hedgehog through to racier fare such as racoons or sugar gliders.
Lastly, depending on who you listen to, pet birds are also sometimes classed as “exotic pets”. If you are this ilk, then anything from parrots to Indian Hill Mynahs could fall within the category of exotics.