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Home > Statistics > 8 Surprising Exotic Pet Statistics in Canada: 2024 Update

8 Surprising Exotic Pet Statistics in Canada: 2024 Update

Exotic Pet Statistics Canada

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Exotic animals are beautiful and awe-inspiring, but keeping exotic animals as pets can raise many concerns. Exotic pets can escape their enclosures and harm the biodiversity of the region as well as the individuals in the community. In some instances, exotic pets have even been responsible for deaths. Even if exotic pets do not escape their enclosures, they can be dangerous due to the infectious diseases they may spread to humans.

Canada has an alarmingly high number of exotic pets within its borders. The abundance of wild animals in the country has had severe consequences. In this article, we will review eight surprising statistics about exotic pets in Canada to give you a better understanding of the gravity of the situation and its repercussions.

divider-food Top 8 Exotic Pet Statistics in Canada

  1. Around 1.4 million exotic pets are owned in Canada.
  2. Canada is a large exporter of exotic pets; for instance, over 15,000 bison are exported from Canada to the United States each year.
  3. Nearly 400,000 wild mammals are owned as pets in Canada.
  4. 36% of shelters in Canada have received exotic animals from owners surrendering their pets.
  5. Among new and emerging infectious diseases, 75% of them originated from animals.
  6. 93% of Canadians share the opinion that the wildlife trade is cruel and can lead to suffering in animals.
  7. Among surveyed Canadians, 89% believe that importing and exporting exotic pets can be a danger to public health and may even cause pandemics.
  8. Nearly 9 out of 10 Canadians worry that the trade of exotic pets will threaten biodiversity, possibly leading to extinction.
CANADA_EXOTIC_PETS_FACTS_&_STATISTICS
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General Statistics About the Exotic Pets in Canada

1. Around 1.4 million exotic pets are owned in Canada.

(World Animal Protection)

A staggering number of exotic pets are owned in Canada, all of which are considered unsuitable for domestication. These animals are not adapted to captivity and suffer significantly when confined.

This astronomical number results from steady wild animal imports to the country over the years. From 2007–2017, over 23 million animals were brought into Canada. If this trade does not stop, it is likely that the number of exotic pets in Canada will only grow.

Honduran milk snake winding in the hand
Image Credit: Aleksandr Klochko, Shutterstock

2. Canada is a large exporter of exotic pets; for instance, over 15,000 bison are exported from Canada to the United States each year.

(Springer)

Canada has imported tens of millions of exotic animals in recent decades, but they have exported their fair share as well. The United States of America receives most of its exotic mammal imports from South America and Canada.


3. Nearly 400,000 wild mammals are owned as pets in Canada.

(World Animal Protection)

Out of the 1.4 million exotic pets owned in Canada, 342,250 of them are wild mammals. This includes wild cats (leopards, tigers, lions, and more), wild dogs, and monkeys.

However, the number of wild mammals is less alarming than that of wild reptiles and birds. Around 462,893 exotic reptiles and 478,648 exotic birds are kept in the country, including dangerous snakes.

Macaque Monkey side view_Pixabay
Image Credit: InspiredImages, Pixabay

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Consequences of Owning Exotic Pets in Canada

4. 36% of shelters in Canada have received exotic animals from owners surrendering their pets.

(World Animal Protection)

Many exotic pet owners soon realize that they’ve made a mistake and cannot handle the wild animal they brought into their lives. This leads to 36% of shelters in Canada receiving wild animals that the owner no longer wants to claim responsibility for. Additionally, 15% of shelters report that they have received exotic pets seized from the owner due to poor living conditions.

Even more alarmingly, 29% of shelters brought in exotic animals that were strays. This percentage indicates that many exotic pet owners either lost or abandoned their wild pets, leaving the animals to wander through communities unsupervised.


5. Among new and emerging infectious diseases, 75% of them originated from animals.

(World Animal Protection)

In the past three decades, three-quarters of all new and emerging infectious diseases have originated from animals. Primarily, these animals are wild rather than domesticated animals. A prominent example of this is the COVID-19 outbreak. The wildlife trade increases the risk of zoonotic diseases developing and spreading to humans, making the trade dangerous for wildlife and the entire globe.

Marmoset monkey
Image Credit: jctorres15, Pixabay

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Opinions & Perspectives on Exotic Pets in Canada

6. 93% of Canadians share the opinion that the wildlife trade is cruel and can lead to suffering in animals.

(World Animal Protection)

The trade of exotic animals requires them to be poached from their natural habitat or bred in captivity in deplorable conditions. If the animals are shipped, they are often forced into tight-fitting containers with several animals, sometimes not even animals of their species. This exposes the animals to disease and extreme stress, and it is no wonder that so many animals die before making it to their destination.


7. Among surveyed Canadians, 89% believe that importing and exporting exotic pets can be a danger to public health and may even cause pandemics.

(World Animal Protection)

As we have seen earlier, 75% of new infectious diseases are zoonotic or passed from animals to humans. Considering this, it is no surprise that most Canadians recognize the risks of importing and exporting exotic animals. Examples of zoonotic outbreaks include the Swine flu, Ebola, and COVID-19.

Honduran milk snake
Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

8. Nearly 9 out of 10 Canadians worry that the trade of exotic pets will threaten biodiversity, possibly leading to extinction

(World Animal Protection)

Beyond the worries that the wildlife trade is cruel and poses a risk to global health, Canadians are also overwhelmingly concerned about biodiversity. 89% of Canadians are worried that the importing and exporting of exotic animals will play a role in the loss of natural biodiversity, possibly leading to species extinction.

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How Are Exotic Animals Impacted by Ownership?

Exotic animals overwhelmingly suffer when confined to small enclosures. No matter how well-meaning a pet owner may be, wild animals are not adaptable enough to live a life of captivity. If they cannot roam as they would in nature, they cannot live a fulfilling life.

Likewise, many wild animals need highly specific diets. Their needs are much more complex than most people know. The cost and portions required to feed the animals are immense and dwarf those required with domestic pets. In most instances, wild animals suffer great stress when their range is reduced to a tiny fenced-in area in a backyard. (Newswire)

What Does the Capture of Exotic Pets Look Like?

The process of capturing an exotic animal is exceptionally stressful for the animal. Many are caught in nets, buckets, or snares. Some are chased out of their hiding spots or homes. Often, animals are injured during this process. Due to this, it is illegal in most cases to remove an exotic animal from the wild. However, the wild animal trade on the black market continues to flourish. (BCSPCA)

Does Captive Breeding Harm Exotic Animals?

Apart from snatching animals from their homes, another prevalent way to provide animals for the wild animal trade is by breeding them. Most often, these animals are housed with the bare minimum of standards to save the breeder more money. Of course, this causes extreme stress in the animals and prevents them from carrying out their natural behaviors. (BCSPCA)

exotic pet python examined by veterinarian in his hands
Image Credit: Andrii Zastrozhnov, Shutterstock

Are There Risks to Transporting & Selling Exotic Animals?

There are many risks to transporting and selling wild animals, and not just for the animals. As discussed earlier, the chances of spreading zoonotic disease make the wild animal trade dangerous.

For animals, the process of being transported is dangerous. Many of them are pushed into boxes so tightly that they are crushed. When they are packaged individually, they rarely have enough room to move. Many do not survive the journey.

Wholesalers keep the animals in poor conditions; there is rarely adequate lighting, heating, or food, and injured or sick animals do not receive necessary medical care. Due to these abysmal conditions, it is not a surprise that mortality rates can reach as high as 70% in these facilities. (BCSPCA)

Have There Been Any Dangerous Incidents Involving Exotic Pets in Canada?

There have been several incidents of escaped exotic pets, some of which were killed during recapture attempts. Similarly, there have been several tragic incidents involving exotic animals in Canada, including a 10-year-old boy being mauled by a tiger in 2007, a woman also mauled by a tiger in front of her two children in 2007, and two young children dying from asphyxiation due to a 100-pound snake escaping its enclosure. (World Animal Protection)

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Conclusion

The trade of wild animals is dangerous to the animals, the community where the exotic pet may reside, and the entire globe. In Canada alone, 1.4 million exotic animals live where they shouldn’t, and the repercussions have been severe. Wild animals should be left in their natural habitat, not forced into captivity for a person’s amusement. Hopefully, as more people become aware of this situation, there will be more organized movements to put an end to this cruel trade.

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Featured Image Credit: Rob Oldland, Shutterstock

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