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  1. #1
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    Doctors: No exotic pets for young kids

    Warning: young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for that matter because of risks for disease.

    That's according to the nation's leading pediatricians' group in a new report about dangers from exotic animals.

    Besides evidence that they can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs, exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk, the report says.

    Young children are vulnerable because of developing immune systems plus they often put their hands in their mouths.

    That means families with children younger than 5 should avoid owning "nontraditional" pets. Also, kids that young should avoid contact with these animals in petting zoos or other public places, according to the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report appears in the October edition of the group's medical journal, Pediatrics.

    "Many parents clearly don't understand the risks from various infections" these animals often carry, said Dr. Larry Pickering, the report's lead author and an infectious disease specialist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    For example, about 11 percent of salmonella illnesses in children are thought to stem from contact with lizards, turtles and other reptiles, Pickering said. Hamsters also can carry this germ, which can cause severe diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.

    Salmonella also has been found in baby chicks, and young children can get it by kissing or touching the animals and then putting their hands in their mouths, he said.

    More at link:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081006/ap_on_he_me/med_exotic_pets;_ylt=AjIZdcWmyJezQo9tOWwXw3es0NUE


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  2. #2
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    Feb 2004
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    When my older kids were growing up we lived on 2 acres and kept chickens. One of my sons, who was about 4 at the time, absolutely loved them. He would pick them up and carry them around, petting them, giving them bugs to eat and talking to them. His favorite was one old hen who had developed cataracts and was mostly blind. The chickens followed him everywhere when he was outside and never hurt him in any way.

  3. #3
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    Wow. My kids have always had hamsters, which don't seem all that exotic to me. I was thinking "monkey" or "boa constrictor." Are we as a society getting a little too protective about some things? I mean, if you teach good hygiene habits, what's wrong with a pet? I always thought it was great for teaching responsibility.

  4. #4
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    My son owns a Ball Python (Monty) and before we bought him we researched them as pets.

    We bought a huge bottle of hand sanitizer and use it before anyone handles him and after as well. It is as much for his protection as ours.

    A few precautions and chances are we will all be fine.

    A lizard, snake, hamster, etc. for a child under 5?? Probably not such a great idea.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by colomom View Post
    My son owns a Ball Python (Monty) and before we bought him we researched them as pets.

    We bought a huge bottle of hand sanitizer and use it before anyone handles him and after as well. It is as much for his protection as ours.

    A few precautions and chances are we will all be fine.

    A lizard, snake, hamster, etc. for a child under 5?? Probably not such a great idea.
    Good for you for doing your research! Too many parents don't bother to learn anything about the pet they are adopting, and only buy it because their kid wants one.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by colomom View Post
    My son owns a Ball Python (Monty) and before we bought him we researched them as pets.

    We bought a huge bottle of hand sanitizer and use it before anyone handles him and after as well. It is as much for his protection as ours.

    A few precautions and chances are we will all be fine.

    A lizard, snake, hamster, etc. for a child under 5?? Probably not such a great idea.
    Well, a child under five may not have a pet, but a household my have older children with pets, and the younger children may come into contact with them.

  7. #7
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    I'm sort of the fence about this. I've known children who were infected by a pet and even one adult who developed a lung infection from his beloved cockatiel.

    I spent time at a shelter and working with Humane Education. I know that children can benefit from having pets. On the other hand, I've also witnessed animals that were bought with good intentions but the owners were unaware of how long that animal would live or what is necessary to keep it healthy such as live food and heating units.

    Snakes can live for years, a snake you've purchased for an 8 year old can still be living with you and eating full sized rabbits when your child is in college; who takes care of it then? You do! Iguanas are cute at 5 ounces, not so cute at 5 lbs. Exotics are also hard to care for when it come to vet care; not every vet will treat an exotic.

    I've also been at the shelter when a tearful child is having to turn in a hamster or guinea pig because they didn't keep the "promise" that they made to keep it clean.
    The last one really ticks me off because the other lesson the child is learning it that pets are disposable.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2008
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    Turtles and lizards can carry salmonella. We live in the country and have lizards and turtles come in the yard sometimes. I freak out when the kids play with them and immediately use hand sanitizer and then bring them inside and scrub their hands with antibacterial soap . I have also heard that something in cat feces is harmful to fetuses , maybe a bacteria and that pregnant women should not clean the litter boxes because of it. My mom was always very freaky about germs and bacteria and I am afraid it has made me sort of neurotic about it too. LOL!

  9. #9
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    Oct 2007
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    Since when are hampsters, chicks, lizards and turtles exotic pets?
    I've always had at one time or another..lizards, turtles, hapsters, frogs etc and have never had a problem although I'm a stickler for clean hands and keep sanitizer all over the house lol

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamabeauty View Post
    Turtles and lizards can carry salmonella. We live in the country and have lizards and turtles come in the yard sometimes. I freak out when the kids play with them and immediately use hand sanitizer and then bring them inside and scrub their hands with antibacterial soap . I have also heard that something in cat feces is harmful to fetuses , maybe a bacteria and that pregnant women should not clean the litter boxes because of it. My mom was always very freaky about germs and bacteria and I am afraid it has made me sort of neurotic about it too. LOL!
    This is toxoplasmosis. It's true that women aren't supposed to change litter boxes, but I read when I was pregnant (yes, I'm a woman) that if you've had cats for a long time and changed cat boxes, you have probably built up an immunity. I didn't want to take any chances, and it was the one time when my husband would change the box without fuss, so I stayed clear of the cat box anyway.


  11. #11
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    I've been told this often and if my kids ended up at someone's home with any of these types of animals, I made sure they knew to wash their hands (excessively) after handling the animal / reptile, etc. I've been told some turtles can be very toxic to young children. Thanks DK for posting this.
    Only my opinion, no one else need agree.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kentuckybound View Post
    Since when are hampsters, chicks, lizards and turtles exotic pets?
    I've always had at one time or another..lizards, turtles, hapsters, frogs etc and have never had a problem although I'm a stickler for clean hands and keep sanitizer all over the house lol
    Hamsters are from Syria, Guinea pigs are from Peru, that is pretty exotic

    When I was a kid, if you wanted a lizard, toad, frog or horntoad, we caught one and played with for while and turned it loose when we were done. The problem with long lived reptiles which are imported, is trying to make sure that they don't get into the natural area where you live. The red-eared sliders that are sold here have almost pushed out the native lagoon turtles out because they've been dumped into the wild. And although it is illegal to sell the red-eared turtles with a shell under 4 inches, I saw a man at the street fair selling them to many people and the kids who were getting them were eating food with one hand and holding a turtle with the other. (yes, he was shut down but not before I pitched a fit)

    I also taught my kids in class was that many non-native snakes are brought into this county illegally and smuggled in, so that only about 20-25% of them are alive when they get here. I used a very tame Columbian boa in the class but even he had been dumped at the shelter because the family that had him thought he'd grown too big and they were having a baby.

    There are ways to teach children how to love a care for living things with compromising the life of the animal or the health of the child. I like hamsters but they are dumb and they bite. Domestic rats are much cleaner, friendlier and easier for children to handle. Rats can be trained to a clicker and they enjoy performing for treats. Anole lizards from Florida are fun for kids to take care of and don't require much more than a bag of live crickets and a warm terrarium. Many rescues have turtles which need homes and the organization will help you care for them properly.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CASuzk View Post
    Hamsters are from Syria, Guinea pigs are from Peru, that is pretty exotic

    When I was a kid, if you wanted a lizard, toad, frog or horntoad, we caught one and played with for while and turned it loose when we were done. The problem with long lived reptiles which are imported, is trying to make sure that they don't get into the natural area where you live. The red-eared sliders that are sold here have almost pushed out the native lagoon turtles out because they've been dumped into the wild. And although it is illegal to sell the red-eared turtles with a shell under 4 inches, I saw a man at the street fair selling them to many people and the kids who were getting them were eating food with one hand and holding a turtle with the other. (yes, he was shut down but not before I pitched a fit)

    I also taught my kids in class was that many non-native snakes are brought into this county illegally and smuggled in, so that only about 20-25% of them are alive when they get here. I used a very tame Columbian boa in the class but even he had been dumped at the shelter because the family that had him thought he'd grown too big and they were having a baby.

    There are ways to teach children how to love a care for living things with compromising the life of the animal or the health of the child. I like hamsters but they are dumb and they bite. Domestic rats are much cleaner, friendlier and easier for children to handle. Rats can be trained to a clicker and they enjoy performing for treats. Anole lizards from Florida are fun for kids to take care of and don't require much more than a bag of live crickets and a warm terrarium. Many rescues have turtles which need homes and the organization will help you care for them properly.

    Anoles require a running water source and full spectrum lighting. They are actually one of the more difficult lizard varieties to keep. They are difficult to handle and stress easily. I often see parents buying Anoles as pets at Ren Faire and I honestly do not get why people just blindly buy things they know nothing about. I imagine the Anoles bought there die quickly and I hate to imagine how sad their little kids are.

    To be factual I would like to state that the only native FL Anole is the Green Anole. The Brown Anole, Bark Anole and a number of other types are established but are not native to FL. They were most likely introduced through the pet trade or in shipments of fruit from South America. Red Eared Sliders are also nonnatives but that's hard to believe as they are thick in the rivers and springs of FL. They were definitely introduced through the pet trade. Sliders get huge and outgrow tanks in months. They really don't make very good pets at all.

    We are having a huge problem with nonnative reptiles in FL. Boas and other pythons abound. They interrupt our ecosystem and out-compete native reptiles. They eat our gators and crocs and attack pets and frighten residents.

    I hate to sound like a Know-Everything-Sally but this is one topic I do know quite a bit about. My household currently has two Crested Geckos, a Sulcata Tortoise and a Corn Snake. All of my animals are Captive-Bred and have been with me for years. My son was born in April and the only contact he has with them is watching. Most reptiles do not like to be handled and I plan on teaching him this. Enjoy them from a distance and provide ample habitats. Do your research and wash your hands.

    Enough from me on this, I hope I did not offend anyone as that was not my intent.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. E View Post
    Well, a child under five may not have a pet, but a household my have older children with pets, and the younger children may come into contact with them.
    One of the neat things about Monty's cage is that it has a lock. If you want to protect your family you can figure out a way to do it.

    Lady Loves Lurking, I was not offended at all. I am always glad to read intelligent and informative posts! Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2004
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    We've raised a ton of chicks into chickens and we have a turtle. The kids have played with the chicks and even with the chickens without getting sick. They don't pick up the turtle at all, simply because I don't want them to hurt the turtle. My kids usually get sick playing with other kids. Go figure.

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