Whatever You Do, Do Not Get A Wild Animal As A Pet

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“Here’s the thing about sloths. They’re kind of anti-social.”

Not to be obnoxious or anything, but sometimes I really, really, really wonder if there is any end to human stupidity. Seriously.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I mean for one thing, what would make someone think that a wild animal would make a good pet? I honestly thought Sterling North addressed that issue when he wrote Rascal.

If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s about a raccoon, and it’s a classic. And once you’ve finished I am sure you’ll agree that — as cute as Rascal was — he wasn’t the best pet.

Even if you disagree, here are a few things to consider.

Red pandas, and sloths, and sugar gliders, oh no!

According to a recent National Geographic article, you can blame the Internet and social media for the surging popularity of wild animals as pets.

In some cases, owners post videos of wild animals in their care, coddling them as if they were domesticated,” author Annie Roth notes.

Some of the wild animals now in demand include red pandas, sloths and sugar gliders, among others. But, the experts stress, none of these wild animals make good pets.

Red pandas are (not) so cute

Yes, the look adorable, with their sumptuous, rust-colored coats large tufted ears, facial markings, and bushy ringed tails. But appearances are deceiving.

“You don’t want wild animals as pets, and you particularly would not want to have a red panda,” Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden told National Geographic. “They have cat-like claws that would tear up your furniture and maybe even you.”

Aside from that, they stink. Literally. As a defense mechanism, they can release a foul-smelling scent from their anal glands. And, Maynard said, “they mark their territory like many mammals do, so it would really be a smelly mess at your house.”

Just as importantly — if not more so — red pandas “are endangered throughout their range and their commercial trade is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).”

Solitary sloths

Here’s the thing about sloths. They’re kind of anti-social. The only times they really show any inclination for interacting with each other is when they mate or have babies to raise. And when it comes to interacting with humans… well, let’s just say it’s not a very good idea. In fact, it’s not a good idea at all.

“Sloths are fragile animals,” Cassandra Koenen, global head of exotic pets at the animal welfare nonprofit World Animal Protection, told National Geographic. “Being touched [by humans] on a regular basis can cause them severe psychological damage.”

Finally, their reputation for being “chill” isn’t entirely accurate. Sloths are well equipped with sharp claws and teeth — and they won’t hesitate to use them when they feel upset or threatened.

Not-so-sweet sugar gliders

According to National Geographic, sugar gliders are popular in the exotic pet trade for few reasons. First, they’re easy to find because they’ve been bred in captivity. Secondly, ownership of sugar gliders is legal in the United Kingdom and in some parts of the U.S. and Australia.

In fact, sugar gliders are native to Australia and nearby islands. Unlike sloths, they are highly social and live in large family groups. They live up to their name by using a web of skin that stretches between front and forelimbs to glide from one tree to another. But they also have sharp claws, which make them well-suited for climbing. Within this context, it is also important to note that although a sugar glider’s claws aren’t that long, they can inflict damage on people.

Some other exotics that don’t make good pets

Here’s a short list of some other wild animals included in the National Geographic article that aren’t good pets:

  • The fennec fox
  • Slow lorises
  • Capybara
  • Lemurs
  • Tigers
  • Prairie dogs
  • Asian small-clawed otters

Now here’s the bottom line. Getting a wild animal as a pet is never a good idea. If you love exotics and you must indulge your passion for them, please consider volunteering at a sanctuary or zoo that cares for them. But please don’t indulge your ego. It’s not right and it’s not fair — especially to the animals.


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