How Exotic Is Too Exotic? Local Veterinarians Won’t Be Able To Treat These Illegal Pets
Not everyone wants to or can own a pet dog or cat. In the US, around 10 million choose exotic animals such as reptiles, birds, and small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs as their pet companions. While the term exotic applies to a wide variety of animals, it’s vital to know which animals can be legally kept as pets.
Even though Coronado Pet Hospital no longer has an exotic pet veterinarian in Bernalillo, we want you to know what exotic pets are, what kinds of pets you can own in New Mexico, and the possible consequences of possessing an illegal animal.
What are exotic pets?
In general terms, exotic pets are considered those that are not cats, dogs, or livestock. Animals not fitting into these categories are deemed undomesticated and nontraditional pets.
As you can imagine, this makes the exotic pet category a broad and all-encompassing label.
When considering exotic pet ownership, you must know what animals can be legally kept as pets in your state and how to properly take care of them. It’s also vital to find a veterinarian available in your area to care for your pet.
If you’re looking for a compassionate team of veterinarians in Bernalillo specializing in exotic pet care, call Coronado Pet Hospital. We’ll be happy to refer you!
What exotic pets are legal in New Mexico?
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish classifies animals into 4 groups. These categories look at domestication, public health concerns, safety risks, and whether animals are endangered.
Group I: Domesticated and Semi-Domesticated
Group I includes animals that are not considered exotic, as well as those that are considered nontraditional exotics, such as gerbils, common ferrets, and many parrots.
Animals and pets in this group do not require a permit for ownership.
Group II: Nonthreatening Wildlife and Nondomesticated
Group II animals are considered wild but aren’t considered dangerous to the public, livestock, or ecosystem. These animals include many turtles, frogs, and salamanders.
Animals and pets in this group also don’t require a permit for ownership.
Group III: Nondomesticated Wildlife Requiring Provisions
Group III animals are wildlife that comes with ownership concerns. These animals require an importation permit, and the owner must show that issues surrounding public and livestock health and safety and native wildlife habitat preservation have been addressed.
Animals in this group include waterfowl, many snakes, and the broad-nosed bat.
Group IV: Animals Illegal for the General Public To Own
Group IV animals are considered dangerous to own or have been deemed endangered. It’s illegal for New Mexico’s residents to possess these animals outside of scientific study and zoo ownership.
Animals in this group include big cats like tigers, as well as eagles and crocodiles.
For a complete list of animals and their classifications, check out the Director’s Species Importation List on the New Mexico Game and Fish website.
What are the consequences of owning an illegal exotic animal?
In New Mexico, if you’re caught possessing a Group IV illegal animal, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum penalty of up to 364 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Even if not caught, most of these animals are considered dangerous to people and other animals, meaning if they get loose, they can potentially kill you or someone else.
Another vital point is that these animals require specialized food, habitats, and veterinary care. Most people don’t have the resources to adequately care for these animals outside of a zoo facility.
Contact Our Veterinarians in Bernalillo When Looking for a Referral to an Exotic Pet Veterinarian!
It’s hard finding exotic pet care in New Mexico, and that’s why Coronado Pet Hospital prioritizes knowing local veterinarians specializing in exotic pet medicine. Whether you need medical care for your ferret or advice for your parrot, trust that our compassionate team of professionals can refer you to someone who can help.
Contact our Bernalillo veterinarians today for an exotic pet veterinarian referral!