I stumbled upon an article recently regarding how it's possible for wild animals to keep pets of their own. The iconic example of such an event occurred in 1985 when Koko the gorilla kept a kitten to play around with. The article also stated an example in which Mzee, a tortoise made friends with Owen, a baby hippo, whom had been separated from his mother after a tsunami. This display shows that not only does a pet-like affection occur between human to human, or even human to animal, but the same can be said of animal to animal as well.
This revelation got me to thinking more about how friendship and cohabitation between humans and pets have evolved over time. Animals like cats and dogs have been domesticated enough over the years to be allowed indoors and safe enough to share a small space with, but what about pets from the wild, such as possums, wild hares, raccoons, foxes and even ferrets? Although, in many states the law prohibits such exotic pets from being domesticated, some people still choose to keep them. Not only does this cause a potential threat to you and your families, but it may cause serious harm to the wild animal.
Some things a person should keep in mind when taking in a wild pet:
1. Baby animals won't stay babies forever - It's difficult not to notice how adorable a cuddly, baby raccoon looks like when it is an infant since they are very much like human babies in the sense that, they need to be fed milk, and they like to cuddle up to people when scared. However, that same raccoon will eventually grow up and become too big to handle. The animal's behavior changes drastically when instinct kicks in, which can result in extreme injury and destruction of property.
2. Domestication of species takes centuries - Animals like cats and dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and reliance on humans for food, shelter, and veterinary care have changed the nature of the animals. Wild animals on the other hand do not require human involvement to survive on their own. So keep in mind that even the best intentions to save the life and pet-parent a wild animal can cause more harm than good.
3. They can spread disease - Some of the most common diseases wild animals carry that are dangerous to humans include: rabies, salmonella, and the herpes B virus.
4. Mortality and Safety - "Most wild animals have very specific requirements for habitat, food, and social environments. In captivity they require special care, diets, and conditions of temperature and humidity which are beyond the ability of the casual buyer and most dealers to provide. Most animals that are taken from the wild and sold as pets are condemned to a short life, the torture of unnatural confinement, and inadequate care" (IdeaConnection) Sadly, in many cases when wild animals are captured from the wild and transported for sale many die before making it to their destination.
When a person adopts an animal, it is important to do research ahead of time to know what is best for the animal. If you are currently in possession of a wild animal as a pet, the best option would be to contact one of the wildlife sanctuaries within your local area. Not only are the staff members trained to care for the animals, but they also have all the resources to keep them safe before returning the animal to its natural habitat.
Herzog, Hal. Are Humans The Only Animal That Keep Pets? (2010).Retried from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201006/are-humans-the-only-animals-keep-pets
Should Wild Animals Be Kept As Pets? (2009).Retrieved from: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/exotic_pets/facts/
Bunting, Sarah D. Do Wild Animals Keep Pets. Retrieved from: http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/do-wild-animals-keep-pets.html