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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Sugar gliders, snakes, hedgehogs, lizards, and other exotic pets are becoming increasingly common with social media and Youtube shows that glorify what it’s like to own an exotic pet. Despite their growing popularity, it is important to know what you’re getting into before actually purchasing or adopting one of these animals. Below are five things you should do before getting an exotic pet.


By far the most important part of the process, researching the animal you are going to get is essential to giving the animal a good home and making sure that you will enjoy being a pet owner. Find out the animal’s basic everyday needs: diet, living space, and even the nitty-gritty gross parts that you may not enjoy. Can you put up with feeding your pet bugs or other live creatures? Cleaning the cage regularly? Look into their lifestyle, and ask yourself if are you able to give them a happy healthy home, whether that includes walking them or playing with them daily. Research helps you understand and foresee daily life much more than just looking at the cute pictures on social media that draw you into wanting a little friend.

Find an exotic animal vet near you

After finding out more about your future pet, it’s important to find a vet near you that cares for exotic animals. You should contact the vet to ensure that they have the skills and tools necessary to help your pet should they need it. In most cases, contacting the breeder or online groups who are more familiar with your animal will be most helpful for getting health information about your pet, but in a worst-case scenario, you’ll want somewhere to go to get medicine or other emergency services. On a side note, you may want to consider pet insurance as vet trips can be expensive and can come up out of the blue.

Get supplies

Amidst your research, you should find the necessities for caring for your exotic animal: the minimum size enclosure, light or heat lamps, bedding, food, toys, the list goes on. Pet supplies aren’t always cheap, so getting them ahead of time or even little by little before adopting your pet can be a more affordable way to get what you need. This is not the place to cut corners. If you’re committing to the animal, you’re committing to the cost of giving it all it needs which includes a happy and safe home. 

Find a reputable breeder or rehome an animal

Unlike dogs and cats, exotic pets aren’t as often rehomed from shelters or adopted because of their special needs and conditions. That being said, it’s always good to look around for animals in need of a new home before purchasing from a breeder. If you choose to go with a breeder it is also important to research their care of the animal to ensure that you will go home with a healthy pet. Is the breeder licensed? Do they ensure human contact to make their babies more social before being adopted? Is their place clean? Some breeders of exotic animals will let you do a ‘meet and greet’ to allow you to see their facility but also get some time with the animal before making the final decision.

Understand that this is a commitment

When getting any pet, it’s important to understand that you’re making a long term commitment to this animal both physically and financially. The pet will be a continuous expense with food and supplies, and it will also take up time and effort to care for and bond with. 

Exotic pets can be fun animals to care for as long as you’re prepared! Taking the time to do the steps above will ensure that you’re ready to bring your pet into a happy and healthy home.

Jessa Stecker

Wisconsin '22

University of Wisconsin-Madison Dog enthusiast
I am a senior at the greatest university— the University of Wisconsin. I am in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, double tracking in reporting and strategic communications and earning a certificate in and Digital Studies. I am a lover of dance, hiking, writing for Her Campus, the Badgers and strawberry acais. I am also a president of Her Campus Wisconsin.