History of exotic pets

Mark A. Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter gives an overview of the history of exotic pets and discusses how some exotic animals gained popularity over time. Evidences suggest that the Sumerians were the first to keep fish in captivity (2500 BC), but it was for food. The Egyptians and Romans were likely the first groups to keep fish as something more than just a food source. However, it was the Chinese who were the first to actively keep and breed fish for their aesthetics. Ornamental fish arrived in the United States in the late 19th century/early 20th century. The ornamental fish hobby grew with the advent of commercial travel. Reptiles have only recently become popular as pets. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the primary reptiles being sold in the United States were native species, such as the red-eared slider turtle and green anole. Ferrets are one of the exotic species of animals that have a long and documented history with human civilization. Originally brought into captivity around 350 BC, these animals have held many roles in captivity, including hunting partner, vermin control, and companion animal. Domestic rabbits, like ferrets, have been associated with human civilization for over 1000 years. Chinchillas are also exotic animals of interest in the United States. These animals, like ferrets, have served many different roles since being acknowledged by humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationManual of Exotic Pet Practice
EditorsMark A Mitchell, Thomas N Tully, Jr
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9781416001195
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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  • Manual of Exotic Pet Practice

    Mitchell, M. A. (ed.) & Tully, Jr, T. N. (ed.), 2009, Elsevier Inc.

    Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook

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