Lizards in their terrarium at the Tropical Hut pet store. Lizards are one of the many exotic pets that the Tropical Hut breeds and sells. Photo by Ella Kauffman Smith.

Most may spring for a more common pet, such as a dog or a cat, but there are many who would rather have a pet who is a little more out of the ordinary. Exotic pets offer a new experience when it comes to owning an animal. With an almost endless list of species to choose from—such as snakes, lizards, tarantulas, fish, and more—it’s easy to find an exotic pet to bring into your home. Portland resident Teahsa Schmidt, has a bearded dragon named Betty. “She is pretty easy to take care of, which is nice because we are a pretty busy family. She is also just really fun to watch. She is very different from any of the animals that I grew up with, like dogs and cats,” said Schmidt. 

So far happy with her pet, Schmidt shed light on what it was like to own a reptile. She came into possession of Betty about a year ago when her daughter requested a reptile for her ninth birthday. Besides feeding (she eats live crickets, and leafy greens like radish and arugula) and bathing, her care is relatively limited. “We also bathe her when I clean out her cage. We put her in lukewarm water to bathe her, because it helps them do their shedding, and grow, and then they also get really stinky too,” Schmidt says. She is very happy with the limited amount of care that Betty needs, as opposed to a dog, which requires a lot more attention and care. Though bearded dragons are not originally from this area, Schmidt got Betty at the Tropical Hut, a pet store on Division Street. 

The Tropical Hut is not limited to just bearded dragons however, and has around 500 animals in the store, including turtles, geckos, a variety of snakes, frogs, fish, and more. They also have animals that are not for sale and are used for breeding purposes, as the store breeds their own animals. “We mainly carry stuff that is pretty popular as pets, though,” said Liz, an employee at the Tropical Hut. She also mentioned that even though animals may be similar, each species requires different levels of care and things that they need to survive, such as living facilities. Even though habitats or animals look similar, you never know if an animal is nocturnal or not, or if it requires a heating lamp in its terrarium. “The care differs so much between it, that you really need to do your research,” explained Liz. 

Though the Tropical Hut is only one example of prices, a lot of exotic pets are quite affordable. “We have geckos for sale that are 20 dollars, and then we have different bearded dragons that are 100 dollars, it really depends.” said Liz. Even though this price excludes food and supplies for the animals, exotic pets can be a much cheaper alternative to an expensive purebred dog. 

Though they may seem weird or hard to take care of, an exotic animal may actually turn out to be a great pet. From their affordable prices, to them being fun to watch run around, as well as limited care, they could make a great pet for busy people and families. An exotic pet is a perfect alternative to a common pet, as well the chance to own something out of the ordinary, or even an opportunity to learn something new.             

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