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Exotic animals don't make great pets

Many people have a fascination with owning a wild, dangerous, exotic pet. Maybe it's bragging rights among friends, or simply having something that few other people have. Too often injuries or fatalities occur at the paws of an exotic animal, and in many countries, including the United States and Canada, it is illegal to own exotic animals as pets outside of a wildlife facility or without special licensing.

Despite their popularity, the following pets can also be dangerous.

Turtles

Outlawed exotic pets don't always have big claws and fangs. Turtles, for example, are banned as pets because of their propensity to carry salmonella bacteria. Since 1975, the FDA has placed on a ban on the sales of turtles at a size of 4 inches or smaller. Prior to the ban, researchers linked an estimated 250,000 cases of salmonellosis in children and infants to pet turtles. That's because the small turtles are irresistible to children, and the smaller the size the higher propensity the child may try to put the turtle in his mouth. Salmonella can also be contracted when handling a turtle and then putting fingers in the mouth.

Big Cats

Despite being well trained and experienced in tiger handling, illusionist Roy Horn of the long-running partnership Seigfreid and Roy was mauled by one of his show tigers in 2003. Big cats can be very dangerous to people, thanks in large part to their unpredictability. Also, the sheer size of a big cat can cause injuries to a person even if the cat is simply playing.

The size of a big cat also makes it a challenge to find a cage or enclosure to house the animal. In addition, feeding the animal is no small task, as larger cats need substantial amounts of food to remain healthy and strong.

Cats routinely engage in territory marking with urine and engage in combative behavior to defend their space. They produce a lot of waste that will also need to be cleaned. Pet tigers have been involved in several fatalities and maulings throughout the United States and Canada in recent years.

Snakes

Constrictors and venomous snakes are generally outlawed due to the propensity for injury or death. Constrictors, as their name suggests, are equipped to constrict, or squeeze their prey to death through suffocation. Anacondas and boa constrictors can reach 13 feet or more in length and several inches around in body width. At this size, they can easily subdue a pet, child or even an adult caught by surprise. In the summer of 2009, a 9-foot albino python owned by a Florida man got out of his cage and strangled his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter to death.

Venomous snakes have powerful venom that can cause anything from neurological problems to paralysis and extreme pain to death. These snakes are formidable foes in their natural environments, and with the high chance of biting an owner, they are not safe to have as pets.

Too often snakes that become unmanageable are simply let out into the wild where they can become neighborhood menaces.

Monkeys and chimps

With a close resemblance to humans, and the frequency with which chimps are used in movies or trained for shows, people think that these animals are safe to own.

In reality, chimpanzees can engage in pack hunting behavior. They have been known to be very aggressive, feeding on other monkey species and even turning cannibalistic to earn a higher social standing.

Monkeys have large fangs and have been known to attack people and humans. Some species also throw feces and spray urine, something many people would not look for in a pet.

In 2010, Charla Nash from Connecticut was mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee. Nash lost much of her face and her two hands in the attack. She no longer has eyes because they were removed due to infection.

Reptiles

Crocodiles and alligators start out as small, almost cute hatchlings, which are attractive to pet owners. But these animals grow very quickly in a short period of time. They can reach several feet in length and hundreds of pounds.

These animals have very powerful jaws capable of doing quite an amount of damage. It is not beyond reason for a croc or gator to drag a person into the water, where survival is difficult. They participate in a "death roll," where they spin like a top in the water, ripping and tearing flesh apart from prey.

Despite their size, these reptiles can charge rather quickly on land. In water they ambush hunters and can quickly surprise an animal or person.

Exotic animals might seem like a potentially interesting pet but the safety risk associated with these animals is simply too great to welcome such pets into a home.