Proper Care Basics for Exotic Pets

 In Exotic Pet, Pet Care

Exotic pets (think fish, birds, small mammals, and reptiles) have a rather misleading reputation as “low-maintenance” or “beginner” pets, a misunderstanding that couldn’t be further from the truth. Exotics, just like our domestic friends, require routine veterinary care, a rich diet, a stimulating lifestyle, and of course, a lot of love! Proper care for your exotic pet is a must in order for your them to have a long, fulfilling life.


Regular vet visits are a must for all pets from your average, everyday kitty cat to your fabulous little ferret. Exotic animals, like the name suggests, are a little less than ordinary, and their care requirements aren’t quite as well-known as those of a cat or dog.

Exotic pets need to be seen regularly for things such as:

  • Wing, beak, and nail trimmings for birds
  • Nail and teeth trimmings for small mammals (pocket pets/rodents)
  • Ensuring the animal is receiving proper housing and nutrition
  • Generalized wellness checks for all of the above


While it can be tempting to just buy those pellets you see in the pet stores, most pets need more nutrition than what store-bought pellets provide. You can feed your exotic pet the following on its own or in addition to pellets:

  • Birds, reptiles, and pocket pets alike love fresh fruits and veggies!
  • Fish eat a myriad of “bottom dwellers” such as krill, meal-worm, and shrimp in their natural habitats, making those options suitable for a fish’s diet
  • Foraging foods like nuts, berries, and twigs are favored by birds and rodents
  • A variety of insects are enjoyed by reptiles

Always remember to do your research before you feed anything to your pet! Too much of a “safe” food can have adverse effects (such as diarrhea), and some foods or parts of foods (like the seed of a specific fruit) can be fatal.


Many people believe exotic pets to be lazy, low-energy animals who spend all their time in a cage or tank. Provided with inadequate housing, these animals can certainly settle down out of stress or depression. But when given proper space and stimulation, these perky pets behave just as lively as they would in the wild!

  • Most exotics are kept in enclosures that are much too small, including cages and tanks you can buy from the pet store; a good rule of thumb is that bigger is always better!
  • Rodents and birds need toys that stimulate their foraging instincts
  • Reptiles, fish, and rodents need hide-outs and other in-house structures that provide shelter

Having an exotic pet can be a fun and rewarding experience, and ensuring the health and happiness of that pet is of the utmost importance to us here at Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital! To make an appointment for your special friend or to ask us any questions, you can contact us.