Owners of exotic pets are a lot like owners of cats and dogs

Ask exotic-pet owners why they opted for pythons or tarantulas and you get … well, pretty much the same responses you’d expect from folks with more traditional pets.

Roy and Beverly Carlson were empty-nesters whose five children had grown up, and they were seeking humanlike companionship; enter Michael the pigtail macaque (a “monkid” in pet parlance). Gwen Hovde and Andrew Reddig switched to sugar gliders because they were tired of having hamsters die on them. Kaine Trondson used to be allergic to cats and soon took a liking to reptiles.

Another trait they share with those for whom cats and dogs reign: a disdain for irresponsible pet owners. The problem with exotic pets, they maintain, is not the animals but the people, irresponsible owners and breeders.

“That’s the way it is with every species,” Hovde said. “Pit bulls are great pets if they’re treated right. Same with sugar gliders.”

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