When considering adding a new pet to your family, the price may be something that plays a role in that decision.
The price range for exotic animals can range from $5 to thousands of dollars for rare or high-demand species. At first, some of these prices may seem ridiculous to some people. Why spend so much money on a pet?
When the price of a pet reaches three or even four figures (the amount most people would rather spend on a nice piece of furniture or car payment), they may shop around for more “reasonable” pets. You really shouldn’t buy pets the same way you buy a futon. Because pets are living creatures, they require care, which will cost us more than the original purchase price. In fact, one could argue that their purchase price is the least expensive part of owning a pet, even if they cost over $1,000.
Many factors determine the price of a pet. Some of them include:
The difficulty of breeding, Many animals, especially less common exotic animals, have difficulty breeding in captivity or producing a limited number of offspring. Some animals, such as wolves/wolves and prairie dogs, are seasonal breeders, producing offspring only in the spring.
Morphing, color, or breed. Ball pythons are a very common snake, available in the pet trade for about $20-70 for “normal” colored animals (depending on where you got them from). However, some breeders have produced different reptile morphs, and some have sold as much as $50,000. This example shows how extreme the price range can be for certain species when they have a special coloration and demand is high.
At the expense of care. There are many issues associated with caring for newborn pets. Many exotic pets are hand-reared, and it’s worth paying extra for that. This important step in pet rearing often determines how socialized the animal is. Other exotic pets, such as toucans, need constant feeding during the day when they are young and require many weeks before they are old enough to go home with their owner.
Rarity, Few exotic animals are extremely rare. When very few people actually sell an animal, the price people are willing to pay obviously increases significantly.
Demand. Whether an animal meets any of the above criteria, if demand exceeds supply, the price will be adjusted accordingly.
Determining what is inexpensive
So, how do you know what an animal is really “worth” and what makes it inexpensive or cheap? I will judge this by comparing the animal to other similar species relative to their size and availability. To do this, I need to divide exotic animals into two groups: the common and the unusual.
An ordinary exotic pet simply describes exotic pets that are usually available … such as those you find in chain pet stores like Petco. Many are domesticated but are still considered “exotic” and others are reptiles/amphibians that are not very large or poisonous (not cobras, alligators, Burmese pythons, etc.). Common exotic pets include sugar gliders, ferrets, “pocket pets,” chinchillas, hedgehogs, roosters, and aquarium fish. Prices for animals in this group can vary, but some cost less than $50 that could be considered “cheap.”
Unusual exotic pets are animals most people think can only be found in zoos. Animals in this group tend to fetch at least $1,000, so I consider prices below that figure to be “inexpensive.”
Common exotic animals under $50.
Unfortunately, many of these animals are impulse purchases. Their very low price tag is a big part of the reason. Cheap as some of these animals are, almost all of them will require at least a $100 supply if cared for properly. If you don’t get enough care or if you’re unlucky, the animal can get sick, and then the real costs can pile up unexpectedly. Vet bills often start at $50 per appointment, but can easily soar into the thousands. It’s unethical not to provide veterinary care for an animal you took responsibility for just because it was cheap.
- Green Iguana $15-25
Iguanas are some of the most notorious victims of misery, inadequate because of their presence as cheap animals in chain pet stores. I believe they should not be sold there, especially if they will be presented as tiny babies with no pictures of 4-7 foot adults. With their ridiculously low purchase price, people don’t realize that they need very expensive upkeep. They will need fresh vegetables cooked for them daily, a very large enclosure (even if you build one, you will spend hundreds on materials), expensive UVB / UVA lighting, and more.
- Degu $10-20
While chinchilla prices start at $100, their lesser-known appearance, the degu, is about the same price as a gerbil. These exotics have a high population in the pet trade, but few people know about them. However, being small rodents, they breed in abundance and may end up in animal shelters, so it would be a good idea to check them out before buying. They are also not very expensive to keep, as the cost is very similar to caring for rats.
- Budgerigar $10-35
These tiny popular parrots are found everywhere. Their small size and low prices will make them easy victims of impulse purchases for “decorative purposes.” Parrots are actually very sociable, so it’s a bit conflicted that these birds are so easy to acquire, but often their welfare is overlooked to the extent that people tend to give larger birds. Birds are also traditionally given little space. There are many cheap little Budgerigar cages, but they are often too small.
- Hermit Crayfish $5-35
Hermit crayfish are the first pets for many. They are certainly popular “disposable” pets that are bought with the expectation that they will not live long. They are cheap and are often replaced after surviving for a month or 2. Unfortunately, hermit species of pets can live for more than 20 years, but they are extremely poorly cared for. It’s not even the owner’s fault. Their care is advertised as the need for a small plastic tank with sand, water dishes, and commercial crab pellets. Proper care of hermit crabs is much more complicated, and if done right, hermit crabs are not that cheap, but the cost can still be reasonable. Provide a large aquarium with a deep substrate, climbing branches, fresh and saltwater, and keep the humidity around 70% high. They should not be left alone.
- Axolotl $15-35
These strange-looking creatures are amphibians and can be kept relatively inexpensively. One axolotl can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium. They don’t need (or want) any lighting, heating, gravel, or pretty water. Just provide them with dechlorinated tap water or spring water and make sure their water quality is maintained by frequent water changes or decent filtration.
Unusual exotic pets under $1,000
These exotic pets are very unconventional but can be kept with proper care without problems. Because so few people keep these animals, they are highly regulated in the United States, being illegal in at least half the states. This is very unfortunate because they are as much less of a threat to the public as dogs and cats. These rarer animals cost hundreds of dollars, but they are worth it when you realize how few breeders offer these species as hand-bred specimens.
- African Crested Porcupine $500 to $800
Since other porcupine species cost at least $1,000, this stunning African Crested Porcupine is fairly inexpensive. Because of their size, they’ll need a place outside or a place to roam indoors (and that can be tricky if you’re full of them). This cage will obviously increase their consumption.
- Red Fox $300-$500
It’s a shame that red foxes and their many coloring options are banned in most states because they are relatively cheap for an exotic predator. All non-native foxes exceed $2,000. The true cost of owning a red fox is the worry you will acquire if someone decides to change or rethink the law that will threaten your pet with confiscation, in addition to the expense of a street pen. These stinky animals are usually not kept indoors.
- Patagonian Mara $300-$500
These strange rodent deer, which are actually closely related to guinea pigs and capybara, are relatively common in the unusual exotic animal trade, often advertised as a good “starter” exotic. When socialized, they can be quite affectionate and calm. It is recommended that they have an open space.
- Coatimundi $700-800
The price of a coatimundi is just the tip of the iceberg for this extremely active and playful raccoon relative. You’ll also need to build a cage sturdy enough to hold this nimble exotic pet and spread enrichment items throughout the enclosure. Such an animal is time-consuming, and new owners should have experience with exotics.
- Skunk $250-$450
For an exotic mammal that is relatively rare, skunks are inexpensive. As a domesticated species, they can come in other colors. They can be kept just like ferrets and foxes.