Why you Shouldn’t Release Exotic Pets into the Wild

People generally understand that they can’t just release a cat or dog into the wild if they don’t want to take care of them anymore, but many other pets do not receive the same consideration. There’s a serious lack of distinguishing between a wild bird or rabbit and their domesticated counterparts. There’s two big misconceptions that come into play here. One is that it’s not bad or even neutral to release these pets into the wild, but actually virtuous. It’s the perception that they are victims and you are their rescuer. The other one, is that it may not be a good thing to do, but it’s also not bad. Basically that the act is harmless. Both of these conclusions are false and can have a much further reaching impact than many would ever imagine.

Rabbits are one of the more popular exotic pets, but they’re often more work than people bargain for when they purchase them. So, what do they do? Well, there’s rabbits all over the place outside, so the obvious conclusion is that they’re all fine out there, right? Releasing them outside is just quicker and easier than bringing them to a shelter. It’s not a matter of virtue, it’s a matter of convenience.

Abandoning a domesticated rabbit is the equivalent of releasing a husky into the wild because it sort of looks like a wolf. Despite any physical similarities, they are not the same.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

More often than not, our fantasies do not match our reality. Our fantasies and ideologies are shaped by a lifetime of exposure to media, misinformation, and a willful suspension of belief. The idea of something feeling good leads us to draw the conclusion that it would, in fact, be good. The image and symbolism of a pet bird trapped in a cage instead of flying free is a very common theme in media. We draw the conclusion that they are sad and unfulfilled because that’s how we imagine we would be if we were locked in a cage. A wild bird is everything it was ever meant to be and all feels right in the world when this little creature is free to go wherever their instincts take them. Therefore, wouldn’t it feel really good to free them from their life of confinement?

Well, allow me to draw a clear line between what’s real and what’s make believe. If you have a pet, that’s only ever known life as a pet, you are abandoning them by releasing them into the wild. They do not know how to take care of themselves. They will most likely not figure it out. The skills they learned as a domesticated animal will work against them in the ‘real world’. They will surely struggle to avoid predators, to find/catch food, and avoid disease/infestations. It’s not compassionate and it’s not ethically neutral. It’s cruel. These animals have been put in a situation where they were groomed to depend on humans and to expect them to know how to thrive as a wild animal is completely absurd.

Beyond the suffering of the individual animals there are other possible ramifications. If they are lucky enough to survive, they can actually become an invasive species that detrimentally affects the native wildlife.

“Even tiny pet goldfish wreak havoc among the ecosystem’s system of checks and balances. In Boulder, Colorado wildlife officials noticed that a few people were dumping some goldfish into Tellar Lake and it’s a huge lake. One wouldn’t think that a few goldfish could really do that much in a lake but in just two years their population exploded. From a few goldfish to around 3,000 to 4,000 goldfish thriving in this lake, they had successfully shaded out most of the native fish that once resided there like the sun fish, blue gill fish, channel catfish, etc.”
From <http://ricochetscience.com/the-ethics-of-releasing-your-pet-into-the-wild/>
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Releasing a domesticated animal into the wild is illegal. Depending on your state, it’s punishable by a large fine or possibly even jail time. If you still aren’t particularly concerned about the animals well-being, maybe you care about that. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t take care of your pet anymore, know there are shelters and rescues available for exotic pets. Please do the right thing and use them.

Sources:

https://www.thesprucepets.com/what-is-an-exotic-pet-1237289

https://www.parrots.org/about-wpt/position-releasing-pet-birds

https://rabbit.org/never-abandon-a-rabbit-outside/

6 thoughts on “Why you Shouldn’t Release Exotic Pets into the Wild

  1. I once found a pet black fish, like a weird floppy tailed gold fish, in the ornamental trough thing that looks like a church font, in the reception area of uni and rescued it from that using a make shift net from tights and a coat hanger… This is getting very detailed, shortening the story it was welcomed into someone’s tank and lived on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I couldn’t just leave it there, no weed, no chance, even though it was an ugly beggar. Apparently it happens quite often at the end of the year and student go home.

        Like

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