Welcoming an animal into your home as a new companion or pet can be an exciting event and it is really important that you feel sure about any decision. Here is how to make kindness and care a greater part your decision:
Many, if not nearly all, animals have intrinsic social needs and the company of their own, or a compatible species, may be crucial to their well-being. Animals with social needs live in nature as highly interactive couples or groups and therefore keeping them alone can cause stress. Keeping more than one animal obviously means extra commitment of resources, for example, space, food, veterinary costs and so on. Also, social species often fight in close confinement. This issue marks one of the underlying complications of keeping certain animals as pets, especially animals that are necessarily kept in cages, tanks or vivaria.
Consider a rescued animal
Rescue centres are always seeking good homes for abandoned animals – not just cats and dogs. Whatever type of animal you are researching, consider the rescue route first. Not only will you be helping that individual animal, but you will also create a space at a shelter for another animal in need, and importantly you will not be helping to finance the often unscrupulous trade in animals for pets.
Buying an animal because you feel sorry for it is understandable but…
Handing over money to get an animal out of a bad situation is not the same as rescuing it. Think about the big picture! By paying for the animal, you will be helping the business to continue its trade and you may be inadvertently condemning another animal to similar mistreatment. There may be other, more effective, ways to help animals in distress.
Never buy wild-caught
If you are considering an exotic animal as a pet then make sure it was bred locally in captivity. Unfortunately, it is still legal to sell animals that have been captured from the wild and transported long distances in poor conditions. Unsustainable trade is driving many species towards extinction. Also, wild-caught animals are more likely to die prematurely in the home. Be warned that pet dealers may pass off wild-caught animals as captive-bred!
Animals such as hamsters, rats, geckos, snakes and bats are commonly nocturnal and may be disturbed by your daytime routines. Also, consider that because you are less likely to observe well-being via normal or abnormal behaviour in nocturnal animals (assuming you are asleep), you may not realise when something is wrong and your pet may be suffering without your knowledge.
Invasive Alien Species
Some species can threaten ecological stability if they are introduced into a natural environment where they are not normally found. For instance, invasive species can out-compete or prey on indigenous wildlife to an extent that threatens native species with extinction. The European Union has listed species that pose a threat to biodiversity across European habitats, known as the ‘List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern’ and the selling, keeping and breeding of species on this list will be restricted. Species that can pose an invasive threat will vary depending on how adaptable they are to the ‘new’ habitat they are released or escape into - so check with appropriate local authorities before acquiring an exotic pet.