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5 deadly pets for kids

 
Tragic deaths of 2 Canadian boys highlights the risks of keeping exotic pets.
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

Two young boys aged five and seven in the Eastern Canadian town of Cambellton were killed in their bedroom, allegedly by an escaped python, reports News24. Preliminary reports indicate that the big exotic snake escaped from a pet shop below the apartment and entered their room via the ventilation system and then killed them by strangulation.

The town has since placed the exotic pet shop under review, especially since there had been complaints about it previously.

While the autopsies should offer more clues, locals and a wider community of exotic pet owners are taking a deeper look at the animals they look after. Traditional pet shops are under lots of pressure to carry more than budgies, goldfish and hamsters as client’s tastes are diversifying.

In SA there are many snake enthusiasts and it’s not uncommon for children to keep snakes as pets, but parents should always investigate which species are suitable to keep as pets.

Here are the five worst animals to keep as pets:
  • Big cats: Lions, tigers and leopards are not suitable pets for children. These animals are unpredictable and may easily overpower even a grown man. The deadly combination of claws, sharp teeth and extremely powerful jaws present a danger to your child.
  • Some snakes are harmless/non-venomous and relatively easy to care for, however venomous snakes are dangerous to keep in the home. Not only do they represent a danger to the family, but also to neighbours should they escape. Large constrictors are less dangerous but do carry a threat to very young children for obvious reasons.
  • Wolves/wolf-dog hybrids: Wolves and hybrid wolves are not the same as domesticated dogs and generally retain wild attacking instincts, presenting a danger to vulnerable children in the home.
  • Crocodiles: Some families have been known to take on baby crocodiles as pets, but this is not advisable as they grow into powerful, dangerous animals that can easily maim or kill any member of the family.
  • Primates: Monkeys, chimpanzees and other primates may seem cute but can become very aggressive, especially the males. Pet owners and those visiting them frequently report being bitten and require medical treatment.
In addition to the physical dangers of keeping exotic pets such as these, there are other issues to consider. By buying an exotic pet, you may inadvertently be supporting the international animal smuggling trade. Many of these animals imported legally and illegally suffer in transit. Backyard breeders may also keep animals in poor conditions. Some exotic pets may become abandoned after their owners find it hard to care for them (there were many owls left homeless after a Harry Potter-inspired fad for owl-keeping caught on when the books were at their most popular).

Some exotic animals also carry diseases which are extremely hazardous to humans, for example 90% of reptiles carry salmonella in their faeces, which could lead to humans contracting the potentially fatal disease salmonellosis. Some monkeys and other primates are known to carry Herpes B, the Ebola virus and also monkey pox and other diseases.

Some animals are rare and endangered and it is illegal to remove them from the wild. Never bring home wild animals to keep as pets.

Info via: Exoticpets.com and BornFreeUSA.com

In some cases permits are required, and in others it is illegal to keep certain species as pets. Should you be considering looking after an exotic pet, do check with your local authority whether you need a permit. Do ensure that there’s no danger to your children or your neighbours should you keep exotic pets. In addition, you may have other pets which could be at risk of attack from an exotic pet.

Remember, even dogs require training and care, and not all families’ lifestyles or living environments are suitable for pets.

What kind of animals would you say are suitable for young children?

Read more on: pets  |  environment  |  child health
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