.A public health expert has recommended that an exotic animal dealer’s facility be demolished or "completely gutted and sterilized" because it is so contaminated with animal feces and vomit, as well as roach infested and swarming with uncaged animals. No evidence of infection control was present in the facility that "reeked of death and decay on a mammoth and overwhelming scale."

26 000 (yes, twenty-six thousand) reptiles, rodents and mammals were removed from US Global Exotic’s Texas facility last week, in a raid prompted by an undercover investigation by PETA. An employee working undercover in the facility for PETA documented various abuses.   The company now stands accused by the city of inhumanely housing the animals as well as denying them proper food, water and medical care. Hundreds of dead animals were found, and some animals had started eating one another to survive. An SPCA spokesperson said she stopped counting at 200 dead iguanas.

Buying certain things on the internet is fine. Buying live animals over the internet is something that you shouldn’t even consider. This is a multi-million dollar industry that feeds off the naivety of people, the willingness of people to ignore serious welfare issues in their desire to get a unique pet, and the suffering of animals. Exotic pets can be good pets in certain situations, but tremendous numbers of them suffer and die from inadequate care at distributors, pet stores and homes, with many (many) more dying during smuggling.

If you want an exotic pet:

  • Read a lot about it first. Make sure you can properly manage the animal and that it’s legal in your area.
  • Learn about any infectious disease risks and whether it’s appropriate for your household. In general, exotic pets should not be present in households with children under five years of age, pregnant women, elderly individuals and people with compromised immune systems.
  • Find a small, local breeder. Buy the animal from a place where you can see how they are raised so you can have more confidence they are healthy and have been properly cared for.
  • If you want to buy an exotic pet from a pet shop, ask clear questions about the origin of the animal and request supporting documentation. Only buy a pet that was bred locally. US Global Exotics apparently sold most of their animals through pet stores.

Don’t support illegal and unethical activities by buying exotic pets – if you really want to have such a pet, remember that it requires a lot of forethought and investigation of the source.

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