I see it all too often when people look into getting a new pet: they walk into a chain pet store, express an interest and money signs float in the eyes of the staff member. Before you know it, they leave with an animal they don’t fully understand and will most likely end up without proper care, or for sale online as an unwanted pet.
Researching a new animal is not just great for learning what you need, it’s a test of interest. Are you left feeling bored of reading up on the facts, or unsure about the level of care required? Maybe that species isn’t best for you. I find myself reading endless articles, fact sheets and blogs on certain species and for me it’s a sign that it’s meant to be!
It may sound like a boring task, but it can be full of interesting discoveries and should only make your love for the species grow.
Here are my main stages of research, maybe you could use them to start off on the right path to a new animal companion?
Step 1 – Join an online community:
Find a forum, Facebook group or simply follow a well-known #hashtag on Instagram. This will help you see how others experience the species, learn the common lingo and get an insight into what it’s like to care for that species.
I joined online Facebook group “The Tarantula Community” and read a few of the posts on there, saw some expert advice from other users and looked at images of typical tarantula enclosures.
Step 2 – Get to know the species:
I prefer to get a good understanding of the species itself as a start-point. It may not seem like it helps with caring for them as a companion, but the more you know, the better you can provide a quality life for them.
These are some of the key points I look for and how they help:
- Native Country: helps understand the appropriate climate
- Typical Habitat: gives a better idea of the type of enclosure to create
- Behaviour: can help in creating an enriching environment
- Size: to make sure I can provide adequate space long-term.
- Lifespan: so I know how long this commitment will last
Step 3 – Read different care sheets:
You tend to find no matter where you go, there will always be differences of opinion on what’s best for an animal – even in professional circles. That’s why I like to read more than one care sheet online.
Do a simple google search of “*Insert species here* care sheet”. Find at least three genuine, exotic-related sources and have a read of each – noting the main points from all of them. You’ll find slight variations between them, but hopefully you can pick and choose consistent advice to use.
My main points to look for are:
- Type of lighting
- Temperature ranges for day and night
- Humidity Levels
- Sociability – how they react with other animals
- Type of substrate
- Required decor or features
- Typical feeding routines and diets
- Frequency and method of providing water
Step 4 – Ask for opinions:
I’m sure after doing plenty of reading, you’ll have some questions to ask, especially where variations have cropped up on the care sheets.
Take those questions to both casual owners of the species, and recommended professionals. This is where your forums and pages come in handy – try putting a post or two on these and see the opinions of people that keep the species. Drop some messages to some experienced professionals too and get their view on the topics.
Soon you’ll have a good idea if the species is right for you, and how to proceed with your new venture. If you play your cards right, you might have picked up some helpful associates along the way.
My next steps would be to cost-research and set up an enclosure. I’ll try and get a post up about these stages soon!
Can you think of anything else to research that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments or on social media…