Exotic Animals as pets

In this episode, you'll learn about Exotic Animals as Pets in the U.S.. You'll learn about laws and pet ownership in general.

American English Podcast

American English Podcast

By Shana Thompson

Start listening at minute 10:40.

Today we’ll be talking about exotic pets.

But before we begin, what is a pet? Oxford Dictionary says that a pet is a domestic animal or tamed animal that is kept for companionship or pleasure. The most common household pets for Americans are, well, the dog for one with 63.4 million American households having at least one dog. In second comes the cat with 42.7 million households having at least one. In third, freshwater fish such as neon tetra fish or guppies or goldfish, at 11.5 million households. 5.7 million households have birds, and 5.4 million households have small animals, which can include hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas or rats even.

Many Americans also have horses and reptiles such as snakes, lizards and turtles.

Generally speaking, though, none of the animals I just mentioned are considered exotic, although species of them might be. Different States label different animals as exotic, although in most circumstances exotic pets are uncommon, rare even, or simply not native to the location where the owner lives. This can include anything from big cats like tigers, lions and cheetahs to wolf hybrids, bears, primates, hippos, alligators and so many more animals.

When talking about the laws related to pet ownership or exotic pet ownership in the US, it’s important to first mention the Lacey Act of 1900, which prohibits trade of animals that are illegally possessed or sold. The purpose of the act was to prevent poaching, which is when someone illegally hunts game or catches fish.

In the early 1900s, poaching was very common in fact. Poachers would go out of state, kill birds, turkeys, pheasants or whatever animal they wanted, and then return to their own state to sell its fur or meat for profit.

Naturally, locals in poaching hotspots were really angry. Numbers of certain animal species were decreasing. Some animals were even becoming threatened and one bird, the Carolina parakeet, even went extinct. This was all due to a lack of regulation.

The Lacey Act changed that. Once in effect, it held poachers accountable for their actions. In fact, it became a federal crime to kill in other states and to sell in one’s own. It also introduced groundbreaking rules to protect plants and animal species native to one’s state. And these rules still exist today.

The first one being, you cannot simply introduce non-native species of plants or animals into a new ecosystem; it could threaten the native habitat.

To access the full transcript, quiz and exercises that go along with this episode, be sure to sign up to Season 2 or All Premium Content.


Your Host

Shana - ESL Teacher

Hi Everyone! I am an ESL teacher from California and the host of the American English Podcast. Learn more about me and my teaching experience here.

Recent Episodes