Diary of a Working Housewife (Part 7)
Living with Khaleesi; Why exotic animals are not for everyone.
Saturday Oct 5th, 2019 8:50 AM:
Dear Lord give me patience! This morning I woke up to another disaster I have to clean up. Once again I fell asleep before I let Khaleesi out of her playpen for the night. The outcome; a poop bomb exploded in her nice clean sleeping quarters. This is the usual result when Khali doesn't get her "play" time at night.
As you can see from the above picture, Khaleesi is an Opossum (possum for short). She is about six months of age and a very sweet, curious, little girl. Possums are nocturnal; this means they come out at night to search for food. Therefore, Khaleesi is awake when I go to sleep. Though I try to spend some time with her during the day, I am sure I am as annoying to her when I wake her up as she is to me when she climbs on my bed and nudges me with her nose at 3 AM.
Our nightly routine consists of rub downs and shoulder rides while I prepare her meals, a variety of foods that give her all the nutrition she needs. As scavengers, they eat everything (so everyone says), but not Khaleesi. She is very specific about what she likes. Her favorite food is live meal worms, an expensive little treat her human dad buys her from Petco. After devouring her squirmy snacks, she proceeds to eat her baby oatmeal. I always leave a variety of fruits and veggies in her bowl overnight along with a side of dry cat food that she is not very fond of. During her night munchies, she eats all her veggies and a few fruits. The cat food, on the other hand, is something she may touch if she stays hungry, but very rarely.
Khaleesi uses a litter box with a pee pad in it. She normally urinates twice a day and defecates once. Possums are clean animals, but if you do not clean their litter box once they go number two, I can guarantee you will have poop art all over their enclosure. After Khaleesi eats, I leave her in her enclosure for about an hour until she does her deed. I check on her often so I can clean up quickly. This works very well for me so I can go ahead and set her loose in my room where she has a cat tree and places to investigate during the night.
This routine did not get completed last night! Last night I fell asleep waiting on her to finish and I did not wake up! Therefore, Khalessi did not get to come out to play. The moment I opened my eyes this morning I knew she had served her vengeance (not that she does it intentionally, or does she?). For the sake of believing she is an innocent wild animal, I will say she doesn't do it on purpose. Her tail drags through while she walks around and makes the mess. Yea that's it!
I want to explain to everyone out there why exotic animals as pets are not for everyone. An exotic pet is defined as a rare or unusual animal pet: an animal kept within human households which is relatively unusual to keep or is generally thought of as a wild species rather than as a pet. Most need a license (which I have) and an experienced handler (which I am). Their maintenance is very costly as is their medical care. If you cannot afford to provide for their daily needs as well as their medical care, please do not consider getting one. When you live with an exotic animal, you have to adapt to their routines and habits, not the other way around. They are animals and as such, there is only some things you can get them to do to fit your lifestyle. Khaleesi learned to use a litter box. BUT, if there is none near her when she's roaming the house, she will go anywhere!
I know everyone has seen those cute videos of exotic animals on leashes and doing cute things and immediately say, "I want one!" Well don't go getting one yet! The fact is all the work and money that goes into maintaining these animals is never shown on any of those videos. If you don't give them the proper care, your pet can get sick real fast and die even faster. Plus, you want to do things the right way. Keeping them in a cage without allowing them to be themselves is not the right thing to do for something you claim to love. I had purchased an outside enclosure for Khali so she can roam outside safely at night, but it wasn't a proper one for my little princess to be in. At this time I'm looking into buying another one. In the meantime, she has my home to cause chaos in, at 3 AM.
Possums are not loved by people. They consider them ugly and dirty creatures. People go as far as killing them, claiming they spread rabies. This is not true at all. The possum is unable to become infected with the rabies virus because their body temperatures are too low for the rabies infection to survive. In the wild, possums are a benefit to the ecosystem by eating ticks, cockroaches, rats and mice. They also consume dead animals of all types.
No one knows what happened to Khaleesi's mom. At the age she was found by a good Samaritan and brought to me, she would have still been living in her marsupials mom's pouch still nursing for another month or so before she moved to being carried on mom's back and taught how to scavenge. She was covered in fleas, full of dirt, dehydrated, and had bad diarrhea. I was able to hydrate her, clean her up, and later feed her kitten formula, but not before she hissed at me a few times and tried to bite. It was love at first sight! Such a little thing with such spunk!
Being a Veterinary Technician gives me the ability and the knowledge to meet the needs of this beautiful animal. I specialize in ICU and Emergency care and have 15 years of experience in the field. I'm also grateful to have great friends like Dr. Fitz "The Wildlife Guy," the host of the TV show called Fitz Wildlife Adventures, who has taught me so much about their care and is always a phone call away.
Please be responsible when choosing any exotic pet. Make sure you understand its a lifetime commitment (their lifetime). Your vacations have to be planned around their care. Your daily routine has to be combined with theirs. Their nutritional and medical needs have to be met. Don't expect the same behavior or obedience you would get from a puppy or kitten. Remember, they didn't choose to live with you, you brought them into your world.
May the Goddess bless you all and surround you with her divine white light.
Follow Khaleesi on my IG: Venus2926