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Alternative pets on the rise

12 Oct, 2022
Reptiles | Fish | Small Animals
There’s no hiding the fact that Australia is a nation of animal lovers.

Having just experienced an unprecedented boom in the number of families deciding to share their lives with a pet, there are now more pets in Australia than ever. In fact, 69% of Australian households have a pet of some sort, up from 61% before the COVID-19 pandemic (Animal Medicines Australia, 2021). While dogs and cats top the list, there has also been a significant increase in interest around more unusual pets.

From bearded dragons to stick insects and pythons large and small, frogs, turtles, geckos and even scorpions and giant burrowing cockroaches, there are now almost one million Australian households caring for a reptile, or alternative pet. Alternative pets have wide appeal due to their compact size, relative ease of maintenance, and not least because they are incredibly fascinating to watch. Making no noise, nasty odours, or messy fur to worry about, people with allergies to pet dander are particularly well suited to a scaly or creepy- crawly companion. With many of these unique creatures being interactive but lacking the need for constant affection and exercise like a mammal, they make great pets for both children and adults alike.

Living in an apartment or home without a large backyard can make meeting the more demanding care needs of a pet such as a dog less practical. Due to their smaller size and relatively low daily fuss-factor, alternative pets such as bearded dragons, insects or pythons can be comfortably housed in a stunning, naturally furnished enclosure inside the home. Sharing the home with an alternative pet connects people with nature by bringing a small slice of that animal’s natural habitat into the living room. A greater respect and appreciation for some of the more misunderstood creatures, such as snakes, can also be gained by educating family and friends about these remarkable and gentle creatures.

Whilst many alternative pets have less maintenance requirements than more traditional pets (no grooming or brushing required for a blue-tongue lizard!), they do have a very specific set of requirements that need to be met for them to live a happy, healthy and enriched life. Reptiles, amphibians and insects require controlled environments with special heating, lighting and dietary needs. If cared for correctly, some reptile species can live for a very long time, with pythons living for 20 years or longer, and turtles living for an amazing 50-60 years! So, it’s critical to get things right from the start.

Bringing any pet into your life is a big responsibility and something that must be carefully considered. The Pet Show provides the perfect platform to connect people with animals and promote responsible pet care on a national level in an entertaining and engaging way. I could not be more excited to be involved and am looking forward to meeting many current and future pet parents around the country!

The entire family needs to be involved in the planning process to ensure everyone is willing to play their part in caring for whichever pet you may choose. The Ultimate Pet Handbook provides the perfect overview of the many considerations to be made before committing to a new pet. With over 25 ‘pet profiles’, covering a wide range of alternative pets (as well as the more traditional furry, feathered and aquatic pets), any young person will be able to pitch the perfect ‘pet proposal’ to the adults in their life using the handbook as a guide. The one thing we can all agree on, is that life is better with pets!

Article supplied & written by Ben Dessen

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