, Salem, MA


September 6, 2013

Vet Connection: Helping children become responsible pet owners


If your kids want to have an exotic pet, the research is even more important. Hamsters only live for two years. That’s important to know because the whole family loves little Donut (that’s what we named ours), and it’s really heartbreaking when he gets sick. The husbandry for an exotic pet makes the difference between life and death. Have your kids research the species so they know the environmental temperature, humidity, diet, lighting, environmental enrichment and cage substrate they need. Exotic pets may be small, but they require a lot more detailed care to keep healthy.

When our daughter Rebecca was 12, she really wanted a ball python. She had played with the practice groomer, Klaudia’s, ball python. Once, Klaudia’s ball python latched onto Rebecca thinking her hand was a yummy mammal to eat and drew blood, but Klaudia helped her run cold water over her arm and the snake to get her to let go. This episode, related to me after I finished with an appointment, did not faze her in the least. She learned not to play with a snake when it’s hungry. She researched the breed and saved the money for the snake and the cage. She said she would take complete responsibility for the snake. Being a good planner, she asked us if we would take care of the snake while she was at college, then she would take her back. We made the trip up to New England Reptile Distributors in Plaistow, N.H. She picked out a 6-month-old female and named her Aida. She was very good about feeding her dead pinky mice and cleaning her cage. Of course, she needed rides to the pet store to pick up bedding and frozen rats for Aida, so we were involved in the care. Now we are in the college phase, so we are charged with Aida’s care. Once Rebecca’s done with college, she wants Aida back.

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