Exotic animals and wildlife (skunks, chimpanzees, poisonous snakes,
raccoons, etc.) do not make good pets. They can be dangerous. It is
illegal to buy or keep them in most states.
Owning a young, exotic animal can be a passing fancy. As the animal
matures, it can become aggressive and probably will be unhappy in
captivity. Owners who find that they can no longer keep an exotic
pet usually encounter great difficulty in placing their animals in a new home.
The AVMA recognizes that ferrets (mustela putorius furo) are being
kept as pets and for research purposes. In those states or areas where
ferret ownership is legal, the AVMA recommends:
Responsible ferret ownership: This includes knowledge pertaining to
ferret husbandry (care, nutrition, housing, and species' habits). It is
also recommended that no ferret be left unattended with any individual
incapable of removing himself or herself from the ferret.
Proper veterinary care by a veterinarian legally authorized to practice
veterinary medicine: This includes preventive medicine and, when
needed, medical or surgical care including spaying, castration, and
descenting. Ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies, canine
distemper and other diseases for which a licensed vaccine exists
for use in ferrets.
Wild Animals As Pets
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes
that: a) Wild animals are often maintained in captivity as companion
animals, for breeding purposes, for research activities, and for exhibition,
and b) Certain species of wild animals, when maintained under
responsible ownership, may constitute no significant hazard to human
health, other animal species, the environment, or to the animals themselves.
Certain species, or individual animals of most species, when maintained
under irresponsible ownership may, in fact, be a hazard to human
health, other animals, and/or the environment.
The AVMA strongly opposes the keeping of wild carnivore species
of animals as pets and believes that all commercial traffic of these
animals for such purpose should be prohibited.
The AVMA also strongly opposes keeping as pets those reptiles
and amphibians that are considered inherently dangerous to humans
and believes that all commercial traffic of these animals for such
purposes should be prohibited.
People acquire wild animals as pets because they like to possess
unusual pets or regard them as status symbols.
Problems associated with wild animals include disease, diet, exercise,
housing and traumatic injury.
Wild animals kept as pets are frequently subjected to various surgical
procedures for the sole purpose of making the animal more sociably
acceptable to its owner.
Disposing of a wild animal can be a traumatic experience for both
the animal and its owner. Frequently, legitimate zoos will not accept
them and they are "too domesticated" to return to the
wild; therefore, euthanasia may be the only alternative.
Canine Hybrids As Pets
The AVMA recognizes that: a) wild canines crossbred with domestic
animals (canine hybrids) are often maintained in captivity as companion
animals, for breeding purposes, for research activities, and for
exhibition; b) depending on the management and disposition of
canine hybrids, they may constitute a significant hazard to human health,
other animal species, the environment, or themselves; and c) there
is much controversy with regard to the amount of genetic diversity
between some wild and domestic canines and the suitability of canine
hybrids as companion animals.
The AVMA strongly opposes keeping as pets any hybrids of wild
canines crossbred with domestic animals. The AVMA believes that
all commercial traffic of these animals for such purposes should
Persons who own or are contemplating owning canine hybrids
should be aware of the following:
Laws in their state or community that may prohibit canine hybrids or
require a permit for their presence.
The existence of strong evidence from experts in animal behavior,
animal control, animal welfare, and public health that canine hybrids
can exhibit unpredictable behavior and pose a significant threat of
severe attacks on humans.
Public health officials may require euthanasia of canine hybrids after
they bite a person or are exposed to a rabid animal, regardless of their
rabies vaccination status, because presently there is no rabies vaccine
licensed for canine hybrids and little scientific data on the pathogenesis
of rabies in these animals.
The need for special nutrition and housing, including secure fencing to
prevent both escape and direct contact with humans and other animals.
Owner or keepers of canine hybrids may be at increased risk for liability.
The importance of establishing a good relationship with a veterinarian
who has some knowledge of canine hybrids and is willing to provide
appropriate health care through treatment and preventive medicine.
Recognizing that some states allow canine hybrids to be owned, the
AVMA encourages the development and licensure of drugs and
biologics that can be used on such animals.
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