Too Pet or Not Too Pet

Description according to Oxford dictionary:

“It is a tame or domesticated animal kept for our companionship or pleasure.”

This article is about wild animals that are now being caught and kept as pets for our companionship or pleasure.

Some examples of these wild animals which are commonly being kept as pets in captivity include suricates, squirrels, reptiles, primates, marine fish, amphibians, arachnids and certain wild birds being caught for the pet trade. You may ask me why marine fish? Too many people are keeping these fish that just die, so they go buy more, is this fair to keep replacing an animal in a tank that keeps dying just because of the status of marines? There are people who get it right and I do not want to generalize all people. An acquaintance has a permit to collect up to 400 wild birds in Kenya for his pet shop on an annual basis and these are common little waxbills and soft bills, its seems easy to replace a bird in a cage rather than a flock in the wild.

Seems to me that people have lost the interest in the domestic animals and starting to go for the exotic wild animals for companions, but yet for generations we have been taught how to keep domestic animals, so we naturally view keeping a wild animal like a domestic.

It is concerning that people can go into pet shops and buy suricates, squirrels, snakes, arachnids, primates and so much more over the counter with no proper information, training or education given to the person buying. This is a two way problem. People should first do research before obtaining any animal and the pet shops should be more informative as well. Pet shops should be able to give proper guidance and advice.

For example; anyone can now go into a pet shop regardless of age and obtain a venomous snake, even crocodiles over the counter at the present moment. There is no law that says you cannot obtain an animal if you are a minor or if you have any expertise in this field or not.

I know of four bites in six months of minors being bitten by rattle snakes and copper heads which they have obtained at a pet shop. Both these snakes are exotic to South Africa and can only be obtained through the pet trade.

Animals of this caliber, 15 years ago, were only kept in captivity by Zoo’s and professional handlers were employed. Nowadays, regardless of age, experience and knowledge, a lot of these animals are available in the current market place and the black market.

Wild animals require a very specific diet and cannot be fed on oily, fatty, cooked food. Their digestive systems are designed to breakdown raw food, insects, feathers, fur and bones. Not pellets cooked or prepared food.

Many people, who buy wild animals, only buy one; generally the price has got something to do with this idea. Most of these animals that are being sold in the pet trade are monogamous, colony or flock animals.

Monogamous mean mate for life. Meaning once they have chosen a partner, they will never have another one, even if their partner should die.

Colony animals mean that the animal lives within a group or pride. This generally comes with hierarchy, an alpha male or an alpha female.

People who go and buy a monkey generally buy one monkey because of the price. These monkeys are actually colony animals and need 24 hour attention which we humans cannot provide. Then the owner of the animal gets bitten once, twice, maybe a third and then the animal gets locked in a cage and deprived of the affection it requires from its colony family. This is not fair that animals should be exploited to this extreme or confinement for our pleasure and definitely not as a companion.

Birds, parrots that we buy are monogamous, they chose a mate when they are very young and will always mate with that specific mate. So when we buy a bird from the pet shop and it has been imprinted by us humans, which actually means, that that bird will never mate with another bird as it has chosen its partner to be a human. It sees itself as a human. So once the bird has bitten us once, twice, or even a third it gets shoved into a cage and seldom gets interacted with again. They do not get the opportunity to spread their wings and actually be a bird.

All animals bite. The wild animals bite is harder and worse, as their structures of their mouth’s are designed to rip open flesh, grab their prey, crack open nuts and hard shells. So these animals are not domesticated and do not understand discipline by hitting them or ignoring them, as their parents would allow them to test their boundaries, play very hard for the purpose of their own survival. Now we’ve put a wild animal into a captivity situation, expecting it to be treated as domesticated animals. Common cliché, come look at my tame snake. You cannot tame a snake or lizard.

My main problem with keeping animals in captivity is that people do not understand the animal. To understand the animal you need to look at the species and where it comes from, see what their diet requirements are, if they are colony, flocks, troops, solitary or herd, animals. Are they carnivores, herbivores, insectivores or omnivores? Are they nocturnal or diurnal? There are so many questions that should be asked before even attempting to pick an animal because it looks cute or you will now seem to have a status, something to show off.

Keeping of wild animals in captivity is a privilege not a right. The animals here at Wonderland are captive bred and their requirements and diets are met. I know many people keeping wild animals in captivity and their animals are thriving. Should people want to keep wild animals in captivity, research and speaking to breeders like myself should be the foundation before attempting to keep on a wild animal as a ‘Pet’.

So; Too Pet or not Too Pet?


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