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Hygiene and Exotic Pets

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 1 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Hygiene Exotic Pets Animals Zoonotic

Maintaining a good standard of hygiene is important no matter what type of animal you have as a pet, whether it is a common tabby cat or an exotic python.

Whilst exotic pets may have a greater potential to carry some kind of disease, understanding the individual risk of a particular animal, and ensuring you follow a thorough hygiene practice will minimise health concerns.

Risks and Hazards

Every animal you bring into your home has the potential to spread germs and disease. This can be spread through handling and grooming, and by cleaning away the animal’s waste. Germs can also be spread through coming into contact with contaminated work surfaces – for instance a kitchen worktop that your pet has rested on.

Exotic animals make excellent pets because they encourage your child to take an interest in caring for that particular species. Teaching your child about your exotic pet’s specific care requirements should go hand-in-hand with educating them about the importance of maintaining good hygiene, and always washing hands thoroughly after handling pets.

Choosing The Right Exotic Pet For Your Child

Finding the ideal pet for your child may require a little effort. You may consider the perfect pet to require the minimum amount of attention, be easy to handle and live in a habitat that is quick to clean. If you want to chose an exotic pet for your child you should also consider how your child’s personality and lively nature will affect an exotic pet that may be a little nervous in nature.

Your child may also quickly lose interest in a pet that does not like to be frequently handled, and acknowledging that some exotic animals may not make the ideal pet for your home will help you find one that is ideal.

Educating yourself about the care requirements, behaviour and health risks of a particular type of exotic animal will enable you to pass on the understanding to your child.


All animals carry the potential of spreading germs and diseases. Because exotic animals are frequently moved from place to place – from country of origin to temporary housing, before shipping and transportation to pet store – the risk of transmission of disease, from one animal to another, becomes more of a health consideration than if you were buying a dog or cat.

Zoonotic diseases like Salmonella, Monkey Pox, Tularemia and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, which can be spread by rodents, reptiles and other exotic creatures, should therefore alert you to the importance of teaching appropriate health precautions.

Many Zoonotic diseases carry severe health risks to unborn children, young children and individuals with impaired immune systems or a chronic disease. In most cases, simply ensuring you wash your hands thoroughly, with soap and water, every time you come into contact with your exotic pet, it’s food and tank or cage, will reduce your need to seek medical help and advice at a later stage.

Other Considerations

You can minimise the risk of contracting a disease from an exotic reptile or amphibian by buying a domestically bred animal. Finding a qualified vet, who is familiar with exotic animals, is also an important consideration.

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