How to Find Exotic Pets at Animal Shelters

It is commonly thought that only dogs and cats are at animal shelters. Many people have rescued every dog and cat they’ve ever owned, but when it comes time that they want an exotic animal, the first place they look is a pet shop or a breeder. While exotic animals are not nearly as common in shelters as dogs and cats, it is unfortunately becoming more and more common to find exotics in shelters.

For example, I live in Southern California. Any shelter I walk into will have rabbits available for adoption. Yet not everyone expects to find rabbits. Yet you may be thinking that rabbits are not really very exotic. You would not expect to find a truly exotic pet at a shelter. Well, think again! You will find snakes, frogs, turtles, tortoises, parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, finches, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, tarantulas, and even fish in shelters. Sometimes locating the perfect exotic pet for you may require a bit of patience, time, and traveling. However, they are definitely out there.

So now you are probably wondering how you are going to find your next exotic companion in a shelter. There are a few ways to go about this. Most shelters nowadays have photos of their available animals on their website. There are usually three categories to search through: dogs, cats, and others. You want to search all the photos in the “Others” category. However, looking through hundreds of photos of exotic animals online may seem a bit time consuming. At this point, you want a simpler method. Start out by looking for a rescue near you for that particular species. You may not find a rescue within your city or your county, but make sure to check to see if one nearby may be covering your area. Many rescues will keep track of animals in the shelters. If you ask, they may even be able to provide you a list with photos to make your search easier.

Let’s say I want to adopt a pair of guinea pigs. I start out searching pet photos. Soon I am overwhelmed with the hundreds of photos of exotic animals in shelters. I start to wonder if this is going to be too difficult for me to locate a guinea pig. Since I am in Los Angeles, I search for a rescue in this county hoping to find some assistance. I soon realize there is no guinea pig rescue that specifically says they are Los Angeles based. However, I find a rescue called “Orange County Cavy Haven” in my searches. With further research, I discover that they cover Orange County, Los Angeles County, and even Riverside County. So I begin my search there. While on my own I only saw 5 guinea pigs in the shelters near me, they find over 30 for me to go look at within an hours driving distance. They also give me information on the sex, age, and health of those guinea pigs. I easily drive to shelters and then find the pair I want to adopt. For a fee much less than the pet store price, I was able to save the lives of two guinea pigs with very little effort on my part.

When you decide you are ready for an exotic animal to enter your home, remember to check animal shelters first. If you do not find your desired pet right away, have patience. Within a few days or possibly weeks, you will have found the perfect pet and saved a life. It may have taken a bit more effort than just plunking down some change at your local pet store, but the effort is truly minimal when you consider the great rewards of adopting. Always consider adoption first, no matter what the species of animal you wish to bring into your home. Good luck finding your new companions!

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