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Does Wildlife & Exotic Animals Pose a Threat to Pets?

By AmberKingsley. | Dog Info

Although the internet is full of cutesy videos of wild animals interacting with our domesticated pets, these encounters are rare. You seldom see pictures of the damage certain types of wildlife can cause to homes or the potential dangers they often pose to our pets, but both are very real.

As a matter of fact, owning a wild animal yourself is becoming more problematic than ever according to a report from Livescience. Since 1990, incidences, injuries and deaths from humans keeping exotic animals as a pet have been rising steadily (over 1,500 attacks and 75 deaths). Some of these creatures also carry potentially dangerous and deadly diseases.

When it comes to reptiles, 90% of these seemingly harmless pets carry and shed salmonella in their feces. While most owners are aware of this fact and clean their cages carefully, this doesn’t stop these cold-blooded critters from defecating outside their confines. Other types of exotic pets can carry diseases like monkeypox and herpes

Isolated Incident Kills 50 Wild Animals 

In a rare, but true story, a depressed and deranged man in Zanesville, Ohio released dozens of wild animals into the streets before killing himself. Police and other officials were forced to shoot and kill almost 50 animals before they injured or killed people or their pets. Among the dead were: 

  • 18 tigers
  • 17 lions
  • 6 black bears
  • 2 Grizzly bears
  • 3 mountain lions
  • 2 wolves
  • 1 baboon 

It was later leaked that at least one of the primates on the loose was “highly likely” to be infected with the Herpes B virus. Not dangerous to monkeys, but humans can suffer brain damage if exposed to this disease.

Obviously, the chances of you or your pet having a run-in with a Bengal tiger or Grizzly bear is extremely rare. Pets are more likely to have trouble with some of these more common “nuisance animals” that could be found in your own backyard: 

Black Widow Spiders

Fairly reclusive and non-threatening, pets are often bitten when walking through a web or accidentally disturbing them.

Brown Recluse Spiders

Another eight-legged threat to pets, their bite isn’t particularly painful, but it leaves behind a nasty wound that is hesitant to heal.

Fire Ants

These little pests aren’t likely to cause more than irritation to sensitive paws and noses, but the pain caused from their bites is brutal.


Although they aren’t likely to attack or bite unless provoked, they could be carrying rabies, which is another reason to ensure your animal’s vaccinations are always up-to-date. 


Perhaps the most dangerous and often encountered critter when it comes to dogs and cats that roam around outside. Venom strength and severity varies throughout different species and can range from simple swelling to death from exposure to these sometimes deadly bites. 

Be sure to keep a close eye on your pets whenever they’re outdoors, and when it comes right down to it, wildlife is simply better off left in the wild, protected in a zoo or located on a preserve rather than in a household. It’s simply much safer for everyone and everything involved that they aren’t allowed to interact.

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Amber KingsleyAmber Kingsley

Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelters. With writing, she has spent most of her research on animals with regards to food, health and training.


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