Caring 101 for Small Animals and Exotics

Posted - July 25, 2023

By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger

What do 6.7 million United States households have in common? According to the American Pet Products Association, that’s the number of households that own a small animal.

Small animals, sometimes called pocket pets, include guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, mice, skunks, and gerbils. Beyond the usual array of smaller animals are skunks, sugar gliders, and ferrets.

Some pet parents consider small animals to be ‘starter pets,’ and they will work their way up to owning a dog, cat, or larger pet. Although smaller pets don’t require daily walks, they need care, interaction, food and water, and veterinary checkups.

Fortunately, many small animals in rescue are ready to share a forever home with the right person or family. Like other pets, thousands of small animals wind up in shelters or with rescue groups through no fault of their own.

Similarly, exotic animals have become popular pets over the past decade. Some common exotic animals kept as pets include the chinchilla, capybara, bearded dragon, hedgehog, and squirrel monkey.

Things To Consider Before Getting An Exotic Pet

Consider these points before bringing an exotic pet home.

  • Environment: Most exotics require specialized heating and lighting.
  • Lifespan Many exotics, including some reptiles, have very long lifespans.
  • Size: What starts out small may get larger with time.
  • Diet: Exotic pets require a specialized diet.
  • Natural Behavior: Exotics like to burrow, bask, or climb.
  • Legalities: Be sure it is legal to own the exotic pet you desire.
  • Specialty Care: Not all veterinarians treat exotic pets, so finding a specialist is paramount.
  • Socialization: Some exotics do well with others, and some prefer to be alone.
  • Costs: The upkeep of any pet can be costly; be prepared.

Small Animals Heal Their Own Wounds

Small animals need wound care and problem prevention like all pets. Conditions such as abrasions, dermatitis, ringworm, bumblefoot, and urine scald affect small animals and exotics. Diligent pet parents will notice conditions before they get worse.

Keeping a pet first aid kit at home comes in handy. Fill it with items including the ZYMOX Small Animal & Exotic Topical Spray and Topical Solution. Both products are made in American and contain no steroids, antibiotics, or harsh ingredients. Since they are non-toxic and easy to apply, your smaller pet won’t get stressed out during treatment.

Need to learn more about owning a small animal or exotic? Click here to visit our education page.

About the Author

Arden Moore

Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and She is the founder of the award-winning blog and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.

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