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Welfare of non-traditional pets

By C. A. Schuppli, D. Fraser, H. J. Bacon

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The keeping of non-traditional or 'exotic' pets has been growing in popularity worldwide. In addition to the typical welfare challenges of keeping more traditional pet species like dogs and cats, ensuring the welfare of non-traditional pets is complicated by factors such as lack of knowledge, difficulties meeting requirements in the home and where and how animals are obtained. This paper uses examples of different species to highlight three major welfare concerns: ensuring that pets under our care (i) function well biologically, (ii) are free from negative psychological states and able to experience normal pleasures, and (iii) lead reasonably natural lives. The keeping of non-traditional pets also raises ethical concerns about whether the animal poses any danger to others (e.g. transmission of zoonotic diseases) and whether the animal might cause environmental damage (e.g. invading non-native habitats when released). The authors used these considerations to create a checklist, which identifies and organises the various concerns that may arise over keeping non-traditional species as pets. An inability to address these concerns raises questions about how to mitigate them or even whether or not certain species should be kept as pets at all. Thus, the authors propose five categories, which range from relatively unproblematic pet species to species whose keeping poses unacceptable risks to the animals, to humans, or to the environment. This approach to the evaluation and categorisation of species could provide a constructive basis for advocacy and regulatory actions.

Publication Title Revue Scientifique et Technique - Office International des Epizooties
Volume 33
Issue 1
Pages 221-231
ISBN/ISSN 0253-1933
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, 2357 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4,
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Animal welfare
  3. APEC countries
  4. Aviaries
  5. Birds
  6. British Isles
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Cats
  11. Commonwealth
  12. Countries
  13. Developed countries
  14. Diseases
  15. Dogs
  16. Environment
  17. Europe
  18. Ferrets
  19. Fish
  20. Gerbils
  21. Germany
  22. Guinea pigs
  23. Hamsters
  24. Introduced species
  25. Invasive species
  26. Lagomorpha
  27. Leporidae
  28. Lizards
  29. Mammals
  30. Mental stress
  31. mink
  32. North America
  33. OECD countries
  34. peer-reviewed
  35. Pets and companion animals
  36. Psychiatry and psychology
  37. rabbits
  38. regulations
  39. Reptiles
  40. Rodents
  41. Snakes
  42. tortoises
  43. trade
  44. turtles
  45. United Kingdom
  46. United States of America
  47. vertebrates
  48. weasels
  49. Zoonoses
  1. peer-reviewed