Despite the fact that keeping exotic pets is still quite an unusual hobby when compared to the number of people who won a dog or a cat there are still plenty of exotic pet shops around.
Unfortunately being such a misunderstood hobby – which requires a considerable degree of specialist knowledge – even many vets and local authorities struggle to figure out the differences between a good exotic pet shop and a bad one.
This means that you’re unfortunately just as likely to walk into a bad pet store as a good one when you’re looking to buy an exotic pet so it’s essential that you understand personally how to spot a trustworthy and reliable exotic pet store yourself if you’re going to end up with the sort of pet – and the sort of support – that you’ll need to be successful with this pastime.
Reasons To Find A Reliable Exotic Pet Shop
Exotic pets are sensitive animals that require specialist care. A poorly looked after exotic pet can suffer from all sorts of health problems either from the moment you take them home or later in life which is unpleasant for both you and your pet as well as being potentially expensive to rectify. Getting a healthy exotic pet to start with is essential if you really want to make the most of your pet keeping experience.
Poorly run exotic pet shops may offer either little advice or lots of incorrect advice which can lead to a variety of problems including convincing you to purchase an unsuitable pet or encouraging you to keep it under incorrect conditions leading to ill health at best or an early death at worst.
Lastly the better exotic pet shops will focus on the health of their animals and the satisfaction of their customers so will buy captive bred specimens wherever possible and will put the proper care of exotic pets like reptiles and amphibians at the forefront while a less reliable pet shop may put profits first.
In short buying from a poorly-run exotic pet shop can lead you to buy an unsuitable pet, receive little or no support and rewards the person who is running the store.
How To Identify A Reliable Exotic Pet Store
Each pet shop is of course different and so the factors to look at may vary to a degree but below you will find a list of points worth considering when visiting any exotic pet shop.
It’s also worth mentioning that it is a smart idea to not buy a pet from the first store you visit – even if it seems to meet all the standards below – because by visiting a number of stores you will be able to get a far broader and more educated view of the pet shops in your area and therefore make a more informed decision about which exotic pet store deserves your business.
Is The Exotic Pet Store Clean And Tidy?
Any shop owner who cares about their store aims to keep it clean and tidy and this is even more important when it comes to exotic pet shops. With live animals around there are risks of diseases spreading, of unpleasant smells, dropped food attracting rodents and so on.
Exotic pet stores are rarely kept immaculately – many prefer a slightly rougher look with artificial plants and so on – but check to see how well organized and clean it is. Do you feel comfortable in there or is it dark, smelly and dirty?
Are The Staff Knowledgeable?
If you can, try striking up a conversation with a member of staff even if it’s to complement them on their store. If possible try asking a few leading questions about the species you’re considering to see whether the members of staff present really know anything or whether they’re just “there for the money” and have little expertise to speak of.
Once again, a reliable exotic pet store will have knowledgeable staff and will either take on experienced exotic pet keepers or will offer a degree of training to new employees so this can be a useful guide. It’s also worth bearing in mind that these are the people you may be asking questions to in the future if you have any problems so checking they know what they’re talking about can be a good insurance plan for the future.
Are The Exotic Pets Kept Correctly?
Hopefully before you even start looking for exotic pets to buy you’ll have an idea of what species you’re interested in keeping and have read a few books on the subject so you have a basic idea of their requirements in captivity.
Based on this information – as well as other obvious clues – how well do the exotic pets in the shop seem to be kept?
I have been into pet shops in the past where tarantulas were covered in mites, dead fish floated on the top of aquariums, tortoises had nothing but iceberg lettuce to eat and iguanas were kept in bone-dry desert-type set-ups and all of these set off “warning signs” in my brain that these were pet stores to be avoided either because they don’t know or don’t care what they’re doing.
What Do Others Say?
Lastly it can be a good idea to ask around – either online or in person – to see what other people’s experiences of a certain pet store have been before you make a purchase. A few people’s opinions can often be enough to help you make a final decision – or even to re-eavuluate an opinion you’d already formed yourself and is one of the most useful tips for all for identifying the best exotic pet store in your local area.