Why are unusual pets becoming more popular?

Croydon Guardian: African grey parrot African grey parrot

Humans have been keeping pets for thousands of years, but it looks as though dogs might no longer be man’s best friend.

Unusual pets are on the rise in the UK, and snakes, bearded dragons and lizards might soon be everywhere.

The Federation of British Herpetologists states that reptiles have made up the fastest-growing sector of the British pet industry for the past two decades.

More unusual mammals, such as hedgehogs, degus and chinchillas are also being sold.

Sebastien Latour, owner of Creature Company pet shop in Wimbledon, says there are two reasons people generally choose unusual creatures: they might simply be looking for something that’s “not your run-of-the-mill pet” to make them stand out, or they might have allergies to fur that prevent them from choosing a conventional fluffy bunny.

He says: “I have a rabbit and a snake and I love them both.

“My rabbit will come up for cuddles on the sofa and watch TV with me, while I find it beautiful just to sit and observe my snake.”

Snakes are lower maintenance than more traditional pets, as they don’t require lots of physical affection and only need feeding once a week – but owners do have to stock up on mice, the reptile’s favourite food.

The trend for unusual pets can be seen in the celebrity world too.

Croydon Guardian:

"Low maintenace": Snakes

Micropigs are particularly popular, with Paris Hilton, Rupert Grint and David Beckham all reportedly owning one.

Justin Bieber recently abandoned his capuchin monkey in Germany, while Mike Tyson’s tiger (probably not the easiest creature to try and keep at home) was made famous by 2009 comedy The Hangover.

A carnivorous big cat – or even a mouse-eating snake – might not be for you, but next time you’re at the pet shop, maybe it’s worth thinking outside the rabbit hutch.

Have you got an unusual pet? Or a usual pet with an unusual story behind it? Contact the newdesk by calling 020 8722 6333 or email: digitalmedia@london.newsquest.co.uk.

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