Health Risks Associated with Wildlife as Pets
Many people have contact
with wild animals and, especially if the animals are young, are tempted to take
them home as pets. Baby animals are often cute, cuddly and responsive to
attention. The temptation to remove them from their natural environment can be
very strong, but before you try to make a pet out of a wild animal, please
consider the following:
Most wild animals will not live very long in our
normal household surroundings. Baby animals that do survive will undergo a
drastic behavioral change as they become adults. They often become very
aggressive and continually try to escape back to the out-of-doors. A tailor-made
pet does not result from declawing, descenting, neutering or removing fangs from
a wild animal. In addition, attempting to return such animals to the wild when
their behavior becomes intolerable is actually a death sentence.
dietary requirements of most wild animals are different from domestic pets. An
improper diet can result in serious nutritional deficiencies such as rickets and
other crippling conditions.
Most wild animals are normally most active at
night. This perfectly normal behavior can be very disruptive to persons trying
to sleep and attempts to change it may be very frustrating to the animal
Many diseases which affect people can be carried even by
healthy-looking wild animals. Rabies is one such disease and others include
leptospirosis, tularemia and plague. Preventive vaccines against these diseases
are not approved for use in wildlife.
Most wild animals are protected by
various federal and state laws and permission from the proper authorities must
be obtained before keeping a wild animal.
When you are tempted to take
home a wild animal for a pet, ask yourself these questions:
- Is what I am doing legal?
- Am I willing to risk the health, and possibly the life, of myself and my
- Am I willing to risk destroying the animal?
- Am I willing to change my lifestyle to conform to the animal's natural and
If you cannot truthfully answer "yes" to each
question, do not attempt to keep a wild animal as a pet.
Jan. 1987 Stock No. 7-22
Texas Department of State Health Services - Infectious Disease
1100 West 49th Street, Suite T801, Mail Code: 1960 PO BOX
149347 - Austin, TX 78714-9347
(512) 458-7676 - Fax: (512) 458-7616 -
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