Top 10 Tuesday: Not-So-Great Companion Animals

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Every year, many people succumb to the temptation of purchasing a variety of “exotic” and not-so-exotic animals in order to keep them as “pets”. While we applaud those who aspire to responsible guardianship, all too often, these companion animals are resigned to a life in captivity filled with boredom and misery. For this reason, we’ve compiled a top-10 list of animals you probably shouldn’t even be thinking about as companions:

1.      Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs are torn from their natural homes only to end up in featureless glass bowls. Suffering injuries and death from improper handling and transport, they’re often purchased on impulse and quickly released into non-native habitats. 

2.      Hamsters
Because of their size and cuteness, hamsters are perceived as being sweet and friendly animal companions, sometimes even a first pet for children. These nocturnal animals, however, prefer to be alone. Imagine how you’d feel if a 6-year-old (no matter how well-intentioned) woke you up at 3 in the morning!

3.      Turtles
Although some turtles are docile and will tolerate handling, most are solitary animals, and their care requirements are also too great for the vast majority of people to provide.

4.      Iguanas
In addition to the immense space and equipment requirements needed, iguanas just don’t like to be handled. They are not social animals and are very often stressed by human handling.  

5.      Birds
In the wild birds are afforded a large amount of space—to fly, find mates, and hunt. Housing birds in cages denies them everything that is natural and important to them.

6.      Monkeys
Sure, they’re cute, but generally, primates aren’t good animal companions. In some places, they are illegal. Monkeys are intelligent and highly social animals who naturally live with their families. Because they are extremely active, messy, and destructive, companion monkeys often spend much of their time confined, alone, to cages—a far cry from their vibrant jungle homes. 

7.      Snakes
Snakes like to slither and enjoy the outside world with trees and lakes, not live in a glass tank in your basement. They like to live in tanks about as much as you’d like to live your bathtub.  

8.      Rabbits
As a prey species, rabbits are easily frightened by loud noises and sudden handling. When frightened, and if not handled properly, they can kick so hard that their spines will snap (I’ve seen in happen).

9.      Sugar Glider
Sugar gliders are very social animals and, if they are not given enough attention, may self-mutilate or die from the stress of loneliness.

10.      Fish
Fish confined in aquarium tanks are denied the ability to travel freely, languishing in glass bowls and continuously swimming in circles endlessly.

As exotic as they might be, these animals are better off left alone. Please, don’t patronize pet stores—go to your local animal shelter instead! Thousands of cats and dogs are waiting for the chance at a good home right now.

Posted by Rochelle Regodon