|"ASW12-061" by TrishaLyn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0|
Just to further emphasize that some of the worst offenders when it comes to the spreading anti-exotic pet rhetoric are exotic pet owners themselves, I need to discuss the problem of those people who exhibit exotic animals for ‘educational purposes’. I would guess that around 90% of the time these people, many whom have purchased these exotic animals and own them in their homes, will tell people some version of the following:
- These don’t make good pets
- They are not pets
- They are ambassadors for their species
Now, I’m all for discouraging people from obtaining pets they are not prepared for. Unfortunately much of the general public sees tame exotic animals and assume those species will behave like the standard golden retriever or tame housecat. When people like this get exotic animals and it doesn’t work out, this fuels the perception that no one should have them as pets. Many of these former owners resent their negative experience and often join animal rights radicals under the perception that if they failed, there’s no way anyone else can be doing well with their exotics.
As imperative as it is to never promote certain animals as pets, making the generalization that no one can or should keep a certain species as a pets is undoubtedly harmful.
The first and most obvious fact staring a rational person in the face is that you are keeping it as a pet, despite the words that are coming out of your mouth. Your warning then has a similar effect to the words of a parent telling their kid to not eat junk food while they gorge on a brownie sundae.
An even more clever thinker might not buy this idea that only ‘qualified’ persons can own these animals when it becomes apparent (in many cases) this animal exhibitor has little credentials and has only applied for a relatively easily obtainable USDA license.
Aside from that hypocrisy, animal ambassador exhibitors cannot escape this truth: presenting a tame animal on a leash is not only promoting that species as a pet, it is misrepresenting that species, which inadvertently affects both the exotic pet trade and educational credibility.
For instance, presenting a tame raccoon or coati on a leash teaches the general public that these animals are calm and ‘dog-like’. It does not represent the other side of how they can be in captivity, and this includes the level of danger they present when they have hormonal outbursts that can result in severe injuries for the owner.
Some ‘educators’ teach these animals to interact with the public, and the most daring of them will even allow people, including small children, to hold these animals.
Essentially, the fate of exotic animal legality often rests in the claws of an untrustworthy non-human.
These are the reasons why it is absurd and nutty for exotic animal exhibitors to talk negatively about the pet trade, when in fact they should be its biggest ally.
If you have a problem with the exotic pet trade, you cannot abide by your values and continue to misrepresent animal behavior which will lead people to perceive these animals as dog-like.
People who present animal ambassadors instead should just stick to the facts, instead of moralizing. For instance, instead of saying “raccoons are not pets”, say “raccoons will be destructive in the home and they can leave you with a serious bite wound”.
You can never go wrong with the facts.
When you agree with the animal rights activists that an animal makes a bad pet it is not good for you, the exotic pet owner. This can result in future legislation blocking you from getting more exotics.