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Beware Exotic Pets

Dreaming of a pet hedgehog?

If you have a young child, think twice.  New research warns exotic animals can be hazardous to their health.

Taking care of a pet can be a lot of fun for kids. But new research shows that the type of animal you welcome into your home have can have a real impact on your child’s health.

New research from the American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under five should not have exotic pets (think hedgehogs, hamsters, baby chicks, lizards, turtles, etc.) because they can carry dangerous and potentially deadly germs.  In addition, these pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw.

The report also goes on to say that kids that young should avoid contact with these animals in petting zoos or other public places.  Children are at risk for getting sick after kissing the animals or touching them and then putting their hands in their mouths.

Do you have an unusual pet—or are you thinking of getting one?  Tell us why below.


Posted: 10/6/08

Being one who has owned just about every exotic pet around can say from experience. The threat of disease from these animals is very minimal. There used to be a scare of any egg laying animals but this is no longer a problem.

The part about a kid not owning one is probably a good idea for the animals sake. Most adults don't care for their snakes, turtles ect. let alone a 5 year old. Just my opinion.

  • By bcherep
  • on 10/7/08 2:28 PM EST

My upstairs neighbor in my first apartment had iguanas ... he used to feed them little white mice ... I had little white mice running around my apartment one night as a result. You can only imagine how much fun that was.

I've read about those little turtles. We had those as kids. They usually ended up being flushed down the toilet. Very sad when you're small and it's your first "pet"


Hamsters are considered exotic pets?! Oh please. My sister and I had hamsters growing up, and no one ever became sick. Yes, children under 5 years old shouldn't be in charge of pets smaller pets, but that's just because they're (generally speaking) not ready for the responsibility.