July 7th, 2015
Exotic Pets: Pros & Cons


Exotic pets attract attention and interest because of their beauty, but they require special care. Always research any kind of pet before purchasing or adopting one.



Cinnamon, Smoochy, and Spike pose for their Christmas card.

I became interested in cockatiels because my brother had a white-face cockatiel named Chicken-Head George, and that bird was hilarious. When I moved to a studio apartment, I purchased my first cockatiel from Strictly Feathers. A few months later I bought him a companion bird. Several years later, a male, Cinnamon, was re-housed to me because he bites. Males tend to be the whistlers and talkers. Males are much louder than females. Cockatiels eat seed, pellets (mine won’t) and fresh fuits and vegetables. My birds also enjoy cooked food made especially for exotic birds.


“Silly antics. These birds crack me up, especially the boy. He loves his reflection, he likes to play peek-a-boo, and he says, “I love you, foot” to his foot. Cockatiels also waddle when they walk and it’s very cute.

“I never get tired of their little voices.

“Younger birds can be taught tricks and the males are more adaptive to learning words at age 1-2 years.

“Their lifespan can be up to 18-20 years.

“They love to do whatever you are doing. Chores, watching a movie, etc. You are part of their flock. If you eat, they will eat. If you take a nap, they will too.

“They enjoy riding in the car and attending outdoor events in their portable pet pouch.

“Cockatiels are reasonably priced, usually ranging from $100-130. Their cages tend to cost just as much. Parakeets are cheaper. Larger parrots can cost thousands of dollars.”



“They can can be bitey, especially birds that are not hand-tamed as babies. My male bird bites, but I’ve learned how to handle him (always with a perch), and I can usually tell when he’s ready to go back to his cage. Female cockatiels don’t bite hard. You can barely feel their bites.

“Cockatiels are wimps and will get picked on by other exotic birds, including smaller parakeets. If keeping more that one species of bird, cockatiels should not be let out of their cage if other birds are out of their cages, too.

“Heated teflon cookware is toxic to exotic birds.

“They are messy.

“They are prone to night frights (waking suddenly and thrashing about in cage).

“The Univeristy of Tennessee Small Animal Vet Hospital is the only vet office that will treat exotic birds. Exotic birds hide illness. Before you realize something is wrong, it is usually too late.”


According to, “Sugar gliders are native to Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia and Papua-New Guinea. Their descriptive name comes from their love of sweet foods and a membrane that allows them to glide. Sugar gliders are marsupials which means that they raise their young in a pouch on the mother’s belly. They are small mammals and adults weigh between 4 and 5 ounces.”

Ruth Reece of Sevier County has owned suger gliders for 2-3 years. She has a male, distinguished by a bald spot on his head, and a female. They have 1 – 2 offspring at a time. Her pair have had 7 offspring since she has owned them. She says when a baby sugar glider is born “it climbs in its mother’s pouch. You don’t see it until it gets bigger.”


 “They are cute and sweet little pets.

“They make moderate noise.

“They are a little messy.

“Once they become familiar with you, you can let them out of their cage. They are very fast.

“They enjoy eating baby food (sweet potato, fruit, chicken flavor) and pellets.

“They don’t bite hard unless your fingers smell like food.”



Photo from



Delinda D’Rabbit with Samara.
Photo by La Photographie. Used with permission.

Delinda D’Rabbit, a burlesque performer with Salome Caberet, has owned dozens of snakes. She was familiar with cribo snakes because a friend owned one and she was taken with the snake’s beauty and friendliness. While shopping at a pet store for mice for her corn snake she spotted this unicolor cribo. Two years later the cribo, Samara, would be hers.

Size: 7 feet long and 1.5 inches wide

Enclosure: 5′ X 2′ X 3′  glass container with locking slide top. Samara has a hiding box and a large water pan.

Food: Samara eats medium-sized thawed rats.

Personality: Affectionate, friendly, and tame. Delinda says most of her friends and her significant other love Samara.


Look at that snake!
Photo by La Photographie. Used with permission.


“Her poop is a thing nightmares are made of.

“Her farts are loud.

“In the beginning Samara would only eat live mice, 12 per feeding.

“Limited number of places to buy feeder animals.”

Delinda says, “I love my snake, though. Poop and all. I have kept dozens of snakes in the past, but she really is special. I have never known a snake to be so outgoing and desperate for human affection.”

 © Debra Dylan, 2013.

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