Author: Amy Holloway
Exotic pets can include anything from hamsters, chinchillas and gerbils, to snakes, lizards, geckos, tortoises, and birds. Whatever species of exotic pet you have, environmental enrichment is just as important for them as it is for dogs and cats.
Head Vet Alun Edwards has put together a list of ways you can enrich the life of your exotic pet reptile or small mammal.
Contact us for advice about your specific exotic pet
Exotic Pet Reptiles
Lizards, snakes, turtles, and other reptiles are wild animals, with natural wild instincts. When they’re kept as pets, their lives can become ‘empty’ as their natural need to hunt for food, evade prey, and live in extreme conditions, have been removed.
Enriching a pet reptile’s life should revolve around giving them challenging activities that mimic some of their natural behaviours, this is also important for their welfare. You can do this by giving them something to explore, such as:
- Multiple hides made out of logs with dense foliage.
- Underground burrows, using deep soil, sand and leaf litter (leaves, twigs and pieces of bark that have fallen to the ground).
- Climbing objects like branches, hammocks, or well-secured stacks of rocks.
- Always make sure your pet will be safe and can get out of new areas, but not their enclosure!
Small Exotic Pet Mammals
A lack of sensory stimulation can cause boredom and frustration, which may see your small pet over-grooming, self-mutilating, pacing, cage chewing or just being generally unhappy, timid and inactive. You can enrich your small furry pet’s life by:
- Moving their furniture around and adding items such as cardboard tubes and small boxes, giving them a new reason to explore.
- Giving them tools to achieve something, such as materials to build a nest, or position wooden blocks so they have to chew to access another area.
- Making a foraging tray filled with hay and scrunched up newspaper, and sprinkling some of their daily food in it.
- Giving your pet some safe, size-appropriate toys to play with. They may like a small cuddly toy to snuggle up with at night too.
- Introducing a companion if you’re able to. Search online for the best same/opposite sex pairings for your species and make neutering a priority.
- Giving them new healthy foods to try. Always check new foods aren’t toxic for your species of pet first.
If you have any questions about enrichment or general healthcare for your specific type of exotic pet, don’t hesitate to contact us.