Animal Stories - Free Range or Caged - Exotic Pets
I have received many questions, statements, and so forth about the topic of allowing exotic pets to have free run of the house. In my opinion there are just too many dangers to allow many species of animals to have total run of the house. The use of common sense goes a long way.
Personally, I am in the middle. I allow my exotic pets plenty of exercise time and playtime outside of their cage or the area where I confine them. Some animals should never be caged. After a few potential mishaps and near disasters I just don’t allow them to run free without constant supervision.
Honey, why is the rabbit in the dryer? What? The rabbit is in the dryer. I had just taken out of the dryer the clothes I wanted to hang up on hangers before I grabbed the last handful of clothes out of the dryer. I left the dryer door open. Evidently, the exotic pet rabbit thought that the cubby hole with warmth emanating from nice soft clothing looked intriguing. He climbed into the dryer, evidently to take a nap.
What if I had decided to turn the dryer back on to keep the rest of the cloths from wrinkling? There isn’t a lot that can be said about a fluffed rabbit. I also have heard of rabbits lured to fireplaces attracted by the heat and have gotten their fur scorched. After the dryer mishap, the rabbits were given one room to play in, and that one room was searched from top to bottom for any possible dangers. When they are out of their rabbit cages they are in their designated room and chaperoned.
One email I received was from a man that was concerned because his wife felt their rats should have total freedom of the house. It is near impossible to find all the dangers in the house when it comes to a rat. We had the windows cracked open a bit in a second floor bedroom. The windows had good screens. We went to check on our rat children and one was missing. There he was out on top of the second floor roof wandering around. We are afraid to death of heights, we had to crawl out the window and retrieve the rat. Luckily he was the type to run toward us, and not run in the opposite direction. Rats just don’t fly well.
Even if an animal is in the same room with you doesn’t mean he isn’t going to get into trouble. We had our office on one wall of the bedroom many years ago. We lived in Oklahoma in the country. I heard something outside and I looked out to see a sheriff’s car and then two sheriffs cautiously walking toward the house with their hands on their holsters. They looked very apprehensive. We both went outside to greet them, trying to look as friendly as possible. The two men were still uneasy until I asked what the problem was.
They explained a 911 call was made from our phone, but no one would speak to the dispatcher, and there was a strange noise on the line. In fact, they still had the connection and the bizarre noise was still coming over the line. I had one of those bingo moments. Our two baby raccoons had been playing on the bed behind our backs. The phone had also been on the bed. Somehow those two little rascals had taken the phone off the hook, managed to dial 911 and they were chuckling and chattering to the dispatcher. When I explained this to the two officers they looked incredibly relieved. I had to laugh when I heard them laughing quietly as they got back into their car. I was also glad I had my license to have the raccoons.
One of the same raccoons was playing under my desk one day. They were still very young and far from litter box trained. He urinated on my brand new APC battery backup surge protector. There was a loud zap and pop. Off went our computers. I looked under the desk and there was a very rattled, puffed up baby raccoon looking mighty scared. He ran to me and stayed in my arms for at least an hour. Thank goodness he hadn’t been electrocuted. But, I assure you he never peed on anything electrical again.
I don’t know how many times I have heard that skunks don’t climb. Bull roar, they climb. They may not be able to climb a tree like a raccoon but they can climb. We picked up two baby skunks up in Iowa; one skunk for a doctor that was a family friend, and also one for ourselves. Through previous experiences I knew that baby gates didn’t work to contain a skunk. I won’t cage a skunk – ever. I do use a child’s playpen when they are very tiny to keep them safe. We had a piece of glass against the doorway to keep them from getting out of the bedroom. It was well wedged and the edges were guarded. A little while later we had two baby skunks coming toward us. To this day we have no idea how they got out of that bedroom.
I kept large dog food bags in big plastic bins so that the skunks couldn’t get into the dog food. It is not good for them, no dog food or cat food is good for a skunk. The container was kept under the stairs. Our skunk went missing one day. I was looking around the house when I spotted a white tipped tail sticking out of the dog food bag. The little monster had climbed the stairs and dropped into the dog food bag from above. Skunks are very smart animals.
Ferrets are great at finding nooks and crannies. One day in Northern Minnesota, not just one ferret, but all my ferrets went missing. How can this be? I had previously looked over that house with a fine tooth comb looking for any possible dangers and escape routes. After looking high a low for them in the house, I went outside and crawled under the house. There they were. Since I never did find how they had got down there. I placed blankets under the house near the access door. Any time they disappeared I knew exactly where they would be. After they play they run out of steam quickly. The blankets were the only warm place under the house. They also needed each other for body heat. I would just reach my hand in, pat for lumps, pull the ferrets out of the blankets, and take them back into the house; all seven of them. I now use a ferret cage with supervised playtime. A ferret cage has its advantages.
Of course our pets need playtime and exercise time but with limits. They must have a closed-off limited place and be supervised. It would take me days to list all the potential dangers in a home, from electrocution, getting loose, getting poisoned, or even burned. Be aware of these dangers and don’t let them have total free range of the house. Exotic pet safety comes first.
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