Good information and advice

When researching your animal of interest, it’s vitally important that you know where to look for reliable information. Just because you read something in a ‘how to look after an animal’ guide book, care sheet or on the Internet doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation ‘out there’. Over the years, knowledge gaps have been filled by hearsay and guesswork, as well as by sources that mislead due to vested interests. So, it becomes tricky to separate fact from fiction!

Word of wisdom!

If you have difficulty in finding information on how to care for a particular animal then this may suggest that it is not an appropriate pet!

However, we can point you in the right direction, recommend good information and steer you away from bad information sources.

Finding a reliable expert:

The very best information and advice is available from scientists, biologists and veterinarians who are properly qualified and experienced in specialised fields and who are wholly independent of any pro-animal trade, pro-keeping or hobby organisations. Unfortunately, such experts are not always available to give one-to-one advice, but their guidance and information can be accessed through their books, articles and films.

If you prefer to seek advice in person, then your local vet may be able to help or refer you. Most vets are not specialised in exotic pets, but they are qualified and experienced in many areas of animal welfare and husbandry. So, although your local vet may not be an exotic pet expert, he or she has far better training and understanding of animals’ essential needs than ordinary pet shop managers, animal breeders or hobbyists. If you decide to acquire an exotic pet then you should locate and register with a specialist exotics vet.

Vets are bound by a code of conduct, which means that they are only supposed to give impartial and reliable information. However, a small number of vets are directly involved in the pet trade - or otherwise promote the keeping of exotic pets. Therefore, if a vet seems keen or eager to recommend exotic pet keeping or selling then it might be wise to seek another vet who may be in a better position to offer impartial and objective advice.

A wise word!

If you are finding it easy to keep an animal then you may be doing something wrong!

A bone fide rescue centre may be a good place to seek advice, but if the centre is linked in any way to selling animals then this may compromise their ability give impartial advice. Whatever the situation, it is important to ensure that the person advising you is properly qualified to do so. Bear in mind that qualifications such as ‘animal care certificates’ are a very long way from the level of training, validation and experience of a genuine veterinary or scientific expert.

Also consider that many so-called experts and expert groups such as herpetological societies for reptiles and amphibians, or avian societies for birds, may not offer sound or impartial information. This is because these organisations are usually heavily composed of amateur keepers or those with a commercial interest in exotic pet trading.

Good information sources online and in libraries:

Good quality information can be obtained from specific websites. Often, the Internet is the first place to look if you want answers to questions, but great care must be taken when using online information. Ensure that information you rely on is from academic sources, professional encyclopaedias, veterinary or university websites. In general, steer clear of online forums and pet care books that may not be independent and objective.

Wikipedia (caution)

Wikipedia is a free online general encyclopaedia with contributors from diverse backgrounds including members of the public who add information ‘as and when’. In our experience, the general information on Wikipedia about animal biology appears to have been collated from various sources with reasonable accuracy.

Generally, information on Wikipedia about animals in the wild is useful, e.g., which region of the world they come from, their natural diet, whether they are naturally active in the day or night etc. However, information on animals in captivity, e.g., whether they are ‘good pets’, what diet they should be fed, what temperatures they need etc., are commonly unreliable.

Therefore, we recommend that where you cannot get the answers to all questions from the priority sources we have listed then you may find some suitable answers on certain natural features of an animal by using Wikipedia, but do not rely on any information about husbandry or suitability of an animal as a pet.

We would recommend you check out the following reputable sources – although we must point out that this doesn’t imply that we agree with every statement in each resource. However, we consider the information and advice to be broadly reliable.

Resources: animals - general

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Arbuckle, K. (2013) Folklore husbandry and a philosophical model for the design of captive management regimes. Herpetol. Rev. 44, 448–452.

Boissy, A., Manteuffel, G., Jensen, M. B., Moe, R. O., Spruijt, B., Keeling, L. J., ... & Bakken, M. (2007). Assessment of positive emotions in animals to improve their welfare. Physiology & behavior, 92(3), 375-397.

Butler, A. B., & Hodos, W. (2005). Comparative vertebrate neuroanatomy: evolution and adaptation. John Wiley & Sons.

Grant, R.A., Montrose, V.T., Wills, A.P., 2017. ExNOTic: Should We Be Keeping Exotic Pets? Animals 7, 47, 1-11, doi:10.3390/ani7060047.

Koene, P. (2012). Keeping of exotic animals: are all animal species suitable for companion animals. Wageningen Universität, Präsentation für Treffen der Europäischen Tierärztekammer.

Kreger, M. D., & Hutchins, M. (2010). Ethics of keeping mammals in zoos and aquariums. Wild mammals in captivity: Principles and techniques for zoo management, 3-10.

Mellor, D.J., 2016. Updating animal welfare thinking: moving beyond the “five freedoms” towards “a life worth living” Animals 6, 21, doi:10.3390/ani6030021

Mellor, D.J., 2015. Positive animal welfare states and reference standards for welfare assessment. N.Z. Vet. J. 63 (1), 17–23. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2014.926802

Mellor, D.J., 2012. Animal emotions, behaviour and the promotion of positive welfare states. N.Z. Vet. J. 60 (1), 1–8. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2011.619047 Mellor, D.J., Beausoleil, N.J., 2015. Extending the 'Five Domains' model for animal welfare assessment to incorporate positive welfare states. Animal Welfare, 24, 3, pp.241-253.

Moorhouse, T.P., Balaskas, M., D’Cruze N.C., Macdonald, D.W., 2017. Information could reduce consumer demand for exotic pets. Conservation Letters 10, 337–45

RSPCA, 2016. Exotic animals as pets - Together We Can...Improve Pet Animal Welfare. Available online:
http://politicalanimal.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Exotics2016.pdf

Schuppli, C. A., & Fraser, D. (2000). A framework for assessing the suitability of different species as companion animals. Animal Welfare, 9(4), 359–372.

TRAFFIC, 2012. Captive Bred, or Wild Taken? TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK. Available online:
http://www.traffic.org/publications/captive-bredor-wild-taken-examples-of-possible-illegal-trade.html.

Warwick, C. (2018). Pet labelling is required and needs to be entirely independently and objectively formulated. Veterinary Practice, pp18-19. https://veterinary-practice.com/article/pet-labelling-is-required-and-needs-to-be-entirely-independently-and-objectively-formulated

Warwick, C., 2015. How the exotic pet business as changed from ancient times – and it’s not good news. Veterinary Practice 21:27.
http://emergentdisease.org/assets/documents/vp_12_2015-Clifford-Warwick.pdf.

Warwick, C., 2015. Captive breeding - saving wildlife? Or saving the pet trade? The Ecologist (Sept). Available online:
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2985202/captive_breeding_saving_ wildlife_or_saving_the_pet_trade.html

Warwick, C., Steedman, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Nicholas, E. (2018). Exotic pet suitability: understanding some problems and utilizing a labeling system to aid animal welfare, environment, and consumer protection. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 26, 17-26.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2018.03.015

Keep in mind...

We are continually acquiring and reviewing information sources and will be adding recommended resources to this section on a regular basis.

If you would like to suggest an item for review that could potentially be included then do let us know!

Resources: dogs and cats 

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Code of practice for the welfare of dogs
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69390/pb13333-cop-dogs-091204.pdf

Code of practice for the welfare of cats
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69392/pb13332-cop-cats-091204.pdf

Guide to congenital and heritable disorders in dogs. Published by The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Revised May 2011
https://www.hsvma.org/assets/pdfs/guide-to-congenital-and-heritable-disorders.pdf

Howell, T.J., Mornement, K. and Bennett, P.C., 2016. "Pet cat management practices among a representative sample of owners in Victoria, Australia." Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 11: 42-49.

Howell, T.J., Mornement, K. and Bennett, P.C., 2016. "Pet dog management practices among a representative sample of owners in Victoria, Australia." Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 12 (2016): 4-12.

Resources: semi-domesticated animals

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Code of practice for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69389/pb13334-cop-horse-091204.pdf

Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/

Resources: primates

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Code of practice for the welfare of privately kept non-human primates
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218679/primate-cop.pdf

Soulsbury, C. D., Iossa, G., Kennell, S., & Harris, S. (2009). The welfare and suitability of primates kept as pets. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 12(1), 1-20.

Resources: unusual mammals

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

McBride, E.A., 2017. Small prey species’ behaviour and welfare: implications for veterinary professionals. J. Small Anim. Pract. 58, 423–36, doi:10.1111/jsap.12681.

Resources: birds

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Avian Welfare Coalition.
http://www.avianwelfare.org/index.htm

Birds First
http://www.greg-parrots.co.uk/

Bradshaw, G. A. and Engebretson, M. (2013) Parrot Breeding and Keeping: The Impact of Capture and Captivity. Animals and Society Institute.

Engebretson, M. (2006) The welfare and suitability of parrots as companion animals: a review, Animal Welfare, 15: 263-276

Phillips, C., Farrugia, C., Lin, C., Mancera, K., and Doneley, B. (2017) The effect providing space in excess of standards on the behaviour of budgerigars in aviaries. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 10.1016/j.applanim.2017.10.015.

Pilny, A. (2015) Changing the Captive Bird Paradigm. YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4QA29NQMOs

Shaw, S.N. & Tully, T.N.. (2012). Birds: Feather Picking. Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. 10.1016/B978-1-4160-3969-3.00110-4.

van Hoek, C. S., & Ten Cate, C. (1998). Abnormal behavior in caged birds kept as pets. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1(1), 51-64.

Resources: reptiles

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Anapsid
http://www.anapsid.org/

Benn, A. L., McLelland, D. J., & Whittaker, A. L. (2019). A Review of Welfare Assessment Methods in Reptiles, and Preliminary Application of the Welfare Quality® Protocol to the Pygmy Blue-Tongue Skink, Tiliqua adelaidensis, Using Animal-Based Measures. Animals, 9(1), 27.

Burghardt, G.M. (2013) Environmental enrichment and cognitive complexity in reptiles and amphibians: Concepts, review, and implications for captive populations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147:286–298.

Howell, T.J., Bennett, C.P., 2017. Despite their best efforts, pet lizard owners in Victoria, Australia, are not fully compliant with lizard care guidelines and may not meet all lizard welfare needs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 21, 26-37

Mendyk, R.W. (2018) Challenging folklore reptile husbandry in zoological parks. In: Berger, M., Corbett, S. (Eds) Zoo animals: husbandry, welfare and public interactions. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, pp 265–292

Natusch, D. J., Lyons, J. A., 2012. Exploited for pets: the harvest and trade of amphibians and reptiles from Indonesian New Guinea. Biodiversity Conserv. 21, 11, 2899-911.

Phillip C. Arena, Meaghan Crawford, Neil A. Forbes, Fredric L. Frye, Rachel Grant, Tiffani Howell, Mike Jessop, Angelo J. L. Lambiris, Karen Mancera, David Morton, Emma Nicholas, Anthony Pilny, Catrina Steedman, Adrian Walton, Clifford Warwick, Martin Whitehead (2018) The need for snakes to fully stretch. Veterinary record, 661.
https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/183/21/661.1.full?ijkey=o2ystVxsrBRGXSz&keytype=ref

The Importance of UV Lighting for Reptiles
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?c=6016&articleid=2376

Tortoise Protection Group http://www.tortoise-protection-group.org.uk/site/1.asp

Tortoise Trust
http://www.tortoisetrust.org/

UV Reptile Guide
http://www.uvguide.co.uk/

Warwick, C. (2019) Folklore husbandry. Veterinary Practice

Warwick, C. (2015) Exotic Pet Trading & Keeping. YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9K18h_5EB4

Warwick, C. (2014). The Morality of the Reptile “Pet” Trade. Journal of Animal Ethics, 4 (1), 74–94.

Warwick, C., Arena, P.C., Lindley, S., Jessop, M. and Steedman, C. (2013) Assessing reptile welfare using behavioural criteria. In Practice, 2013;35:3 123131doi:10.1136/inp.f1197
http://inpractice.bmj.com/content/35/3/123.full.pdf+html

Warwick, C., Arena, P. & Steedman, C. (2019) Spatial considerations for captive snakes, Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 30:37- 48
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2018.12.006

Warwick, C., Bates, G., Arena, P. & Steedman, C. Reevaluating the use of hypothermia for anesthetizing and euthanizing amphibians and reptiles. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 253:12;1536-1539.
https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/10.2460/javma.253.12.1536

Warwick, C., Frye, F.L. & Murphy, J.B (1995/2004) Health and Welfare of Captive Reptiles. Chapman & Hall/Kluwer, London and New York. Whitehead, M. (2018) Factors contributing to poor welfare of pet reptiles. Testudo:8(5);47-61 British Chelonia Group

Resources: amphibians

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Burghardt, G.M. (2013) Environmental enrichment and cognitive complexity in reptiles and amphibians: Concepts, review, and implications for captive populations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147:286–298.

Natusch, D. J., Lyons, J. A., 2012. Exploited for pets: the harvest and trade of amphibians and reptiles from Indonesian New Guinea. Biodiversity Conserv. 21, 11, 2899-911.

Resources: fishes

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Brown, C. (2015) Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney 2109, Australia. Animal Cognition 18:1–17 DOI 10.1007/s10071-014-0761-0

Oldfield, R. G. (2011). Aggression and welfare in a common aquarium fish, the Midas cichlid. Journal of applied animal welfare science, 14(4), 340-360.

http://www.forthefishes.org

Tank watch app:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tank-watch-good-fish-bad-fish/id909502090?mt=8 Detailed guide to ‘good fish, bad fish’ buys.

Resources: invertebrates

Warwick, C., Jessop, M., Arena, P., Pilny, A. & Steedman, C. (2018). Guidelines for inspection of companion and commercial animal establishments. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5 (151), 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00151

Crook, R.J. (2013) The welfare of invertebrate animals in research: Can science's next generation improve their lot? Journal of Postdoctoral Research, 1:(2);9-20
http://www.postdocjournal.com/file_journal/565_06295157.pdf

Horvath, K., Angeletti, D., Nascetti, G. and Carere, C. (2013.) Invertebrate welfare: an overlooked issue. Ann Ist Super Sanità, 49:1;9-17. DOI: 10.4415/ANN_13_01_04

Knutsson, S. (2016) Reducing Suffering Amongst Invertebrates Such As Insects
https://was-research.org/writing-by-others/reducing-suffering-amongst-invertebrates-insects/

Keep in mind...

We are continually acquiring and reviewing information sources and will be adding recommended resources to this section on a regular basis.

If you would like to suggest an item for review that could potentially be included then do let us know!

Resources: public health and safety

Akhtar, A., 2012. Animals and public health: Why treating animals better is critical to human welfare. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, UK.

Brown, C., 2004. Emerging zoonoses and pathogens of public health significance - an overview. Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz. 23, 2, 435-442.

Brugere-Picoux, L., Chomel, B., 2009. Importation of tropical diseases to Europe via animals and animal products: risks and pathways. Bulletin de l’ Academie Nationale de Medecine 193, 1805-1819.

CDC, 2017. Pets & Antibiotic Resistance. Available online:
https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets-and-antibiotic-resistance.html

CDC, 2017. Take care with pet reptiles and amphibians. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available online:
https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellafrogturtle/index.html.

Chomel, B.B., Belotto, A., Meslin, F-X., 2007. Wildlife, exotic pets and emerging zoonoses. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 13, 1, 6-11, doi.org/10.3201/eid1301.060480

Emergent Disease Foundation
http://emergentdisease.org/emergent-disease

Exotic Pets - Reducing the risk of human infection
https://emodepetscore.com/sites/default/files/downloads/Public-Health-Leaflet.pdf

One Health Initiative
http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/

Smith, K.M., Zambrana-Torrelio, C., White, A., Asmussen, M., Machalaba, C., Kennedy, S., Lopez, K., Wolf, T.M., Daszak, P., Travis, D.A. and Karesh, W.B., 2017. Summarizing US Wildlife Trade with an Eye Toward Assessing the Risk of Infectious Disease Introduction. EcoHealth 14, 1, pp.29-39.

Warwick, C., Arena, P.C., Steedman, C., Jessop, M., 2012. A review of captive exotic animal-linked zoonoses. Journal of Environmental Health Research, 12, 9-24. Available online: https://emodepetscore.com/sites/default/files/downloads/A review of captive exotic animal-linked zoonoses.pdf

Warwick, C., Corning, S., 2013. Managing patients for zoonotic disease in hospitals. J R. Soc. Med. Sh. Rep., 4, 1–9, doi: 10.1177/2042533313490287

Warwick, C., Steedman, C., 2012. Injuries, envenomations and stings from exotic pets. J. Roy. Soc. Med. 105, 296-9, doi:10.1258/jrsm.2012.110295.