Exotic Pet Do's and Don'ts for the Holidays

Holiday parrot
Courtesy of Dr. Laurie Hess
Do give your exotic pet something special for the holidays.


1. Give your exotic pet a little holiday gift.
Don’t forget to pick up something to brighten your pet’s spirits this season. A species-appropriate, interactive toy that will occupy him while you are busy with your holiday guests is almost always a good choice.

2. Spend time with your exotic pet during the busy holiday season.
With all the parties and distractions, such as guests and extra time spent cooking, during the holidays, the one-on-one time we have for our pets often gets cut short. As many exotic pets — especially birds — are flock-minded and consider their human caretakers their flock mates, they can get upset when they are ignored. Birds may start to act out by screaming and biting. Even guinea pigs and other rodents can become depressed and eat less. So even if your social calendar is full this season, don’t forget to save some time for your special little guy, whether he’s sporting fur, feathers or scales.

3. Be sure that your exotic pet gets enough rest, even if your house is extra busy.
Many exotic animals are creatures of habit, anticipating the same schedule for eating, playing, resting and sleeping day after day. Although we humans adjust fairly well to schedule changes, our pets are often not as flexible, and they need adequate time to rest. So even if you’re up burning the midnight oil, wrapping presents or cooking a festive meal, don’t forget to turn the lights off on your exotic pet so that he can get the rest he needs, or move him to a quiet room away from the activity.

4. Keep your vet’s phone number, as well as the phone number for ASPCA Poison Control,handy in case of an emergency.
Despite your vigilance, you never know when your pet is going to get into the holiday candy, eat a strand of tinsel, chew on the Christmas tree lights, or be startled by New Year’s fireworks and hurt himself. With exotic pet emergencies, every second counts, so it’s wise to be prepared with these critical phone numbers nearby.

The holiday season should be a time of health, peace and joy. With these holiday do's and don’ts, you can help keep your winged, scaled, quilled or fluffy friends safe and happy throughout this most wonderful time of year.

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