Exotic Pets are Not Uncommon

By: Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Jacki Ochoa Email

There may be exotic, dangerous animals just down your street. While they might be illegal, they are not uncommon.

Dozens of venomous snakes are illegal to own in Douglas County.

Nebraska Humane Society Lead Investigator Kelli Brown said, “There's no anti-venom available locally. So if he or a member of his family or public were to be bitten, umm, I don't know what the chances of them being saved would be."

Brown was on the scene a couple years ago when deadly snakes were recovered from an Elkhorn home. What's more shocking is the risk to the family.

Brown said, “A couple of the animals were not kept in the locked room and they were not kept in locked containers very close to where the children played and slept."

What's also shocking is that complaints like this come in several times a year. Often, the owners have had the dangerous animals for years.

Douglas Armstrong, the Director of Animal Health at the Henry Doorly Zoo, said, “They are hugely inappropriate for people to have."

He said many animals pose a danger to us and when the owners don't know how to take care of the pet it poses a danger to the animal too.

Additionally, Armstrong said, “A lot of animals that are exotic animals in the pet trade are being taken out of the wild so they are contributing to the extinction of species in the wild."

You can own some exotic animals legally but you need to do it properly.

Don Everson, with Bart’s Exotic Pet Store, said, "We pride ourselves on making sure that the customer and user, as you would say, knows exactly what they are getting and how to take care of that animal."

Everson showed us how to feed tortoises that can grow to more than 100 pounds and live for decades. Those are big issues when picking one for a pet.

Kelli Brown said, “You have to keep that in mind. Are you really able to take care of an animal that's going to get that large?”

Without an honest assessment on issues like cost, size and your own interest, owning an exotic pet, even a legal one, can end up being as scary and dangerous as those poisonous snakes.

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