Exotic pets - frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, rabbits - basically anything that’s not a dog or cat.
We all want one until we realize they can be tougher to handle than we thought.
So before you get one, you might want to consider a few things.
How big will the animal get? What does it eat? How long can you take care of it?
Once you decide what kind of pet you want, check with the Florida Fisheries & Wildlife Commission to see what the requirements are.
The state separates wild animals into classes. The first class includes bears, large cats, and primates. These kinds of animals require wildlife permits and aren’t allowed to be had as pets.
Class II animals include ostriches, wolves, and cougars. They also require a permit but can be had as pets.
The last type of animals, Class III, doesn’t require a permit and can be owned by anyone. That’s the category most exotic pets fall under.
That includes chinchillas, rabbits, toucans, squirrels, and other smaller animals.
A lot of exotic pets live a lot longer than dogs and cats do, sometimes for 20 - 30 years. You should be prepared to have the animal for that length of time.
If so, great!
If not, try to give your pet away safely and wisely.
In Southwest Florida, you can give any type of exotic pet away at FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Day . The commission hosts them around the state and provides your pet with a home that day.
You can also call the FWC's adoption hotline, 1-888-IVE-GOT1, to drop off your pet on your own time.
Local pet shops, shelters, museums or groups could also be interested in taking the animal.
Some places we found include The Gulf Coast Humane Society, Forever Pets, The Bird Gardens of Naples and The Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t set the animal free - it’s illegal and could lead to a lot more harm, than good.