Recently it was in the news that the UK would ban the keeping of primates as exotic pets which is great news although long overdue. However, it has prompted a wider ban and there are calls now to ban the keeping of all exotic pets on the basis that people simply don’t understand how to satisfy the needs of these animals and in any case the environment that people can provide for them will be highly unsuited except for exceptional cases.
A good example is the sugar glider. British pet shops offer these for sale. They are a small nocturnal marsupial and they can glide for 45 m between high trees. They live in groups and they are active nocturnally. How can a person in a suburban home satisfy the need to be sociable and arboreal in their living habits?
Sugar gliders are very cute looking creatures. They are also called sugar bears. Their cuteness is what attracts people to purchasing them, unaware of their needs and unaware of the responsibilities that they will have in order to adequately provide for their new “pet”.
You can buy them in shopping malls in America at kiosks. PETA have a page on the unsuitability of these animals as pets. They are native to Australia but appear to be bred in disreputable farms from where they are exported, sometimes in the most inhumane way i.e. stuffed into tiny containers, and sold to buyers who have no idea of the inhumanity of the process.
The whole process from the creation of a sugar glider to be sold as a pet, the shipping of the animal, the sale of the animal and the inadequate care of the animal, once sold, all cause immense suffering. It cannot be justified since the reason behind this suffering is a self-indulgent attitude towards humankind’s needy demands to possess an interesting, cute creature which will entertain them for a while until they become tired of it. It is simply repugnant to genuine animal advocates.
Other exotic animals regarded as pets by some misguided people are African pygmy hedgehogs. They come from Ghana in West Africa. These, too, are nocturnal animals and they live in semi-arid habitats and are very active at night. You can buy them for between £140 and £300 each. People who adopt them are very rarely able to provide for their needs. Once again they are a cute looking animal but people should be fully aware of what they are doing and if they aren’t they shouldn’t do it.
With respect to primates and the government ban on keeping them, the government said that people will have to provide zoo quality environments if they are to obtain a licence to keep them. Incidentally, zoo environments are also poor substitutes for the wild but that is another point. So the question is why can’t the government make the same demands on people who want to keep other exotic animals such as the ones mentioned? To argue that primates are more intelligent is a poor reason.
In regards to cats, exotic pets are such wild cat species as servals and caracals. These are medium-sized wild cat species. Once again they are unsuited as pets and you will read about lots of servals escaping from their homes where they have to be confined and ultimately being shot or killed outside of the home because local residents are fearful of them. It’s a failure in many respects even for the people who look after them because they have to declaw them, which is cruel, and then the animal sprays urine all over their home to mark territory. It’s a disaster so they eventually give up their serval to a rescue centre. It’s time to stop this nonsense and if people won’t do it voluntarily with some self-discipline then the government has to ban it.