Exotic animals

Fascinating strangers

The colors and forms of the tropics in your home – how tempting! Exotic animals are wonderful to look at and highly interesting. A city apartment, however, is far from resembling the natural habitat of exotic animals and holding them places tremendous requirements towards the owner. Obviously, no one would attempt to keep a crocodile in a bathtub or a cheetah in a living room but professional knowledge is also indispensable if you wish to keep exotic animals such as tarantulas, rainforest frogs or white-bellied hedgehogs who only apparently are not very demanding. Moreover, many of these animal species grow very old, so that optimum care for them must be ensured for decades. From an animal protection perspective, we do not recommend keeping exotic animals in a private household.


Frequent animal protection issues

  • Exotic animals are wild animals. Contrary to dogs or cats that have been domesticated over the course of many generations, exotic animals remain wild animals who have adapted their lives to living freely in nature and are thus much more difficult to hold.
  • Exotic animal species place very special requirements towards their owners. Wild animals are best adapted to their natural habitat and die if temperature, humidity, lighting conditions or feed are inappropriate. Therefore, it takes in-depth knowledge but also costly technical equipment to hold them properly and to prevent their dying from housing mistakes.
  • Exotic animals are often abandoned, because overtaxed owners see no other solution to the problem. Tropical tortoises are thus sometimes found in forest ponds and parrots in city parks. Tarantulas are set loose in Zurich Zoo’s Masoala Rainforest Hall. Those animals not found freeze or starve to death or perish for another reason.

We therefore recommend leaving the keeping of exotic animals to zoological or other experts.


Overwhelmed? What to do with an exotic animal?

Switzerland has rescue stations for exotic animals that will help to place them with professional holders. Contact information is provided in the right hand column of this page.


Legal requirements towards the housing of wild animals

The Swiss Animal Protection Act comprises numerous stipulations towards the keeping of wild animals. These stipulations can usually only be fulfilled by experts with the necessary equipment. Moreover, it is often necessary to obtain an authorization to hold exotic animals.


Alternatives to holding exotic animals in private households

Zoos are home to a large number of various different exotic animals and also provide in-depth information on the animals as well as offering animal sponsorship. Certain zoos offer the possibility to visit a zoo animal and experience it up close and near with a zookeeper in attendance. Or what about a trip to the habitat of your favorite animal? Experiencing animals in their natural environment is the most wonderful form of encounter with them.



© R. Sollberger

Further information


Basically, we do not recommend keeping exotic animals. If you already own one, please find in the following, information on their proper keeping and on rescue stations:

  • Casa Reptilica with a rescue station in Höri (ZH) and list of veterinaries