5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
Note: All the images in this article are royalty-free images, not real animals we encountered.
Humans have a strange obsession with random animals. They see a cute animal and their instinct is to say, “I want one!” But a lot of the animals that humans love aren’t pets, they’re wild animals. And while it might seem easy and affordable to take an animal out of the wild and keep it, think again. Wild animals are not pets and shouldn’t be kept as domesticated animals. Here’s why.
A Past Mistake
This topic actually hits close to home for Molly. While she’s embarrassed to admit it, she took a few animals out of the wild and kept them when she was a kid. When she was about 9 or 10 years old, she took two blue-spotted salamanders (Sally and Sammy) home after a camping trip. She had done lots of research about how to care for a salamander and was certain she was ready.
She did a great job caring for them, but she was just a kid, so she didn’t know she’d done anything wrong. Sally lived for only two years, but Sammy is still alive today. She’s now under the care of a friend because she couldn’t travel to Florida and back with us.
While Molly loved Sally and Sammy very much, she often regrets her decision. Because as she got older, she learned that it’s illegal to take native salamanders out of the wild. Of course, once they had been home with her for a while, they were too domesticated to be released back into the wild. But she gave them the best lives possible, and now she’s learning from her mistakes. And we want to share what we’ve learned with other animal lovers too.
Why You Shouldn’t Keep Wild Animals
There’s a bigger reason as to why you shouldn’t keep wild animals as pets, other than it being “bad.” Here are a few reasons you should avoid it.
In many cases, owning an exotic animal is illegal. And even if it’s not, you’ll still need a license or permit to have most of them. So, it’s not easy to take an animal out of the wild and keep it. Plus, most of the people who do it are professionals who keep these exotic animals to rehabilitate them or care for ones born in captivity. If you’re unsure what your area’s laws are, you can check the exotic animal laws by state. But unless you’re a trained professional, I would recommend not pursuing these animals.
Wild Animals Can’t Be Fully Domesticated
Wild animals can learn to become comfortable in a home environment, but they’ll never be fully domesticated like a dog or cat. Dogs and cats have adjusted to companion life over the course of thousands of years. So, if you take an animal out of the wild, they won’t behave like a dog no matter how much you love them. Their natural instincts will be present, and the whole situation will probably confuse them.
You Can’t Provide the Ideal Home for Them
No matter how hard you try, your home will never be a match for that animal’s natural environment. Again, dogs and cats are used to living in the comfort of a home. Wild animals are not. Animals live in environments that fit all their behavioral, survival, and nutritional needs. They won’t be able to find that among human objects. So, by taking them away from their true homes, you’re only hurting them. After all, it’s unlikely that you’re going to grow trees in your home or lets bugs roam free.
It Could Endanger the Species
When exotic animals are sold as pets, it could damage their population in the wild. Horrible people will illegally capture wild animals and then sell them. The more animals that are captured from the wild, the less those animals can reproduce. Most people buying exotic pets probably aren’t looking to breed them, so this process could cause species to become endangered or even extinct. So, if you’re qualified to care for an exotic pet, be sure to do a lot of research when finding out where to get one. Like puppy mills, there are people selling exotic animals that aren’t trustworthy either.
They Could Carry Diseases
Not only could you put the animal in danger, but you could be putting yourself in danger too. Many wild animals carry diseases like rabies, distemper, and salmonella. So, they could pass on life-threatening diseases to you and your other pets. Of course, you would take a stray dog or cat to the vet to prevent this, but you can’t always do this with wild animals. Finding a vet for exotic pets is much harder than finding a dog vet. Plus, many exotic animals have claws and teeth that could hurt you too.
Be Responsible When Adding an Animal to Your Family
What I’m trying to say is that you should be responsible when adding any pet to your family, no matter what animal they are. Of course, Molly and I do have an exotic animal in our home (her axolotl named Wooper) but she did a lot of research before finding her. Wooper is from an animal rescue, so she wasn’t bred for profit and she can’t be released back into the wild. And owning axolotls is legal where we live, so we confirmed all that before we brought her home.
So, if you don’t know where to responsibly get a pet, adopt! Adopting is the easiest way to ensure that you’re helping an animal in need rather than supporting an inhumane business. Whether you want a dog, cat, or an unusual pet like an axolotl, adopting is your best option. Sure, some animals are harder to find at rescues, but if you’re patient, the perfect pet will come along just like Wooper did.
All animals are cute. And you might want to keep them all as pets. But whenever you choose a pet, do it for the animal, not for you. Do it because you want to give that animal a loving home, not because you think they look cool. If everyone thought that way, there would be way less pets suffering. So, thank you again to everyone who has chosen to adopt an animal in need.
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