How to Buy an Exotic Pet

Many people want to buy or adopt an exotic pet, but where do you find them for sale and what do you need to consider. Facts about owning and buying exotic pets. Where can I buy an exotic pet? How to buy an exotic pet? What to know before getting an ex

Many people want an exotic pet but few know where to find one for sale.

When we speak of exotic pets we must note that in most areas any pet, other than a cat, dog, fish, or livestock, is considered an exotic pet. As such even hamsters, rabbits, and so forth, are considered exotic pets.


Before looking into buying any exotic pet research is important, not only do you need to know the needs of the animal, and ensure that you can meet those needs, you must also make sure you are familiar with any problems associated with the animal and be willing to live with those. For example some pets such as hedgehogs are active at night and can be noisy.

Other research is required as far as legal issues surrounding owning such a pet. In some areas certain pets are illegal, and if found they could be confiscated and killed, you (as the owner) can be fined. It is nearly impossible to find food or veterinarian care for pets that are not allowed in specific areas. As well unless you own your home, written landlord permission stating that you can keep certain pets is important to get.

sugar glider as pets

Photo Souce

Where to Find Exotic Pets for Sale

Although people often look to pet stores when buying a pet, this is often the worst place to start. Pet stores buy from mass breeders or from pet brokers. They buy the cheapest pets they can with hopes of selling them for the highest price possible. Not only is your pet worth far less than you pay for it, but in buying from the store you reward the cruel industry of mass breeding facilities where the pets are seldom, if ever, handled and care expense is kept to a minimum.

The first place a person can look for exotic pets is their animal shelter, SPCA, or humane society. Although some animal shelters seldom get exotic pets (other than rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters), when they do the animals might even come with their cage and supplies for free.  Adoping a pet is often much cheaper than buying one.

There are several specialty pet magazines. Most people are familiar with cat and dog magazines, but there are bird, reptile, and general pet, magazines too. The bird and reptile magazines often have ads for other exotics, as well as announcements for upcoming shows, sales, and events. Many of these pet expos offer a potential buyer an opportunity to learn about exotic pets, and even to acquire them, or make contacts for later.

Auctions are another place to buy exotic animals. There are auctions specifically for exotic pets as well as those that are for exotic farm animals and exotic pets. Of course when buying from auctions it is strictly buyer beware. There are good auctions and bad ones. Animals may be misrepresented unless the seller has their name and reputation linked to the animal in some way.

Ads in the newspaper, or on-line, are generally from people who got a pet and no longer want it. In which case you may find there are problems with the pet that the seller might not reveal. Good breeders generally have buyers for their pets before breeding, and are the people you would have met by attending the pet shows and pet expos mentioned earlier, they have no need to advertise in the newspaper or on-line.

tomato frog

Photo Source

Warnings About Buying Exotic Pets

Some exotic animals, such as Sugar Gliders, it is very hard to determine their age. They reach their mature size very quick, as such unless buying from a reputable breeder you might be buying a young animal, or an old one being sold as a young animal.

Be sure the pet you are interested in is legal in your area and that you can provide care for it and are allowed to keep it where you live.

In most areas it is illegal to catch and keep any wild animal.

In most areas it is illegal (and considered animal abandonment) to release any pet into the wild.

pet snake

Photo by Authors husband, not for reproduction.


Not all exotic pets thrive as pets. Indeed many people have taken exotic pets because they think the animal is “cool” however the animal has no benefit from being a pet. With some there is cruelty in the production, specifically in the monkey trade where people want baby monkeys and as such these young primates are removed from their mothers at only a few days, or weeks old (even younger than kittens are removed from their mothers).

Many exotic pets have space requirements that most people cannot meet. Iguanas soon need whole rooms for themselves, and of course the large meat eaters, such as tigers, thrive only when given at least an acre of room (more than is provided in most zoos).

Speak to a veterinarian about health concerns in your area and vaccinations needed, also ask how familiar they are with exotic pets.

For the record, I have kept such exotic pets as Walking Stick Insects, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hedgehogs, Hamsters, Doves, Chickens, Reptiles, as well as Donkeys (although often considered livestock). I personally do not feel it is in the animals best interest to keep such pets as Tigers, wolves, or primates such as a Slow Loris.

Related Pet Links

Comparison of 14 Exotic Pets

The Top Ten Most Demanding Pets

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Kathleen Murphy
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Posted on Mar 30, 2010