There is an increasing interest in the keeping of wildlife and exotic animals as pets. Of course, some species are not permitted to be kept without the necessary permits and observation of the strict regulations which often apply. Many Australian wildlife species are not permitted as pets and many exotic animals cannot be imported into the country. However, there is great interest in snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles and a number of other amazing and fascinating Australian native animals.
Most of the problems we encounter in these animals can be related to poor nutrition or poor housing (poor husbandry) of the pets due to a lack of knowledge of the needs of the particular animals. The food requirements of reptiles and amphibians need to be carefully balanced and maintained. Each species and age group has slightly differing needs. In captivity these species are unable to hunt for their natural diet and it becomes very important that they are fed a diet to satisfy all their nutritional needs. We often encounter problems associated with too much protein or a deficiency in vitamins or minerals in the diets provided.
Bird species have different nutritional needs – seed eating birds differ from insect eaters and nectar dependent species. When birds are kept in captivity, they rely on the food provided, and an unbalanced diet will result in problems related to health and disease and poor development. A common example is a parrot diet containing too much sunflower seed – the birds love it but serious health problems will result.
Rabbits and guinea pigs have been popular pets over a long period but again are not without problems related to diet and poor housing or poor husbandry generally. They require a high-quality balanced diet to maintain good health.
For all animals kept as pets it is important, they are provided with the ideal living conditions with shelter, security, correct temperature, correct diet and all other husbandry factors ideal for their health and development as well as behavioral normality. These housing factors will depend on the species chosen and will have specific requirements.
The message in all of this is to make sure that the decision to keep a pet of any type is not taken lightly. There must be proper consideration given to the suitability of the pet and it is important to research the needs of the animals before deciding to buy.