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Lemurs as Pets – Ethical or a Huge Violation?

Enashree Chakraborty
  • Since the year 2000, there has been a 95% decrease in the Lemur population.
  • Caring for a common ring-tailed Lemur can cost up to $222000 over the life span of the animal, excluding the cost of purchase and unpredicted medical expenses.
  • Most Lemurs sold are taken away from their mother at the time of birth and reared in isolation causing highly abnormal behavior

Owning exotic animals is a symbol of status and wealth these days. Keeping such animals as pets is now a trend. Pets are fun to play with but they are also a huge responsibility. Having Lemurs for pets has become the hottest fad for most people.
Lemurs are primates that are generally found in Madagascar and a few smaller islands around the African mainland but cutting down their natural resident forest habitat has caused them to become endangered.
Thus people decided to own them, claiming to give them a home. However, there is a massive downside to this “act of kindness.” Madagascar has a law against keeping, killing, or exporting these animals since 1964.

Primates are wild animals that have very specific mental, emotional and physical needs.
They require an environment of independence and fellow wildlife creatures to interact with. Baby lemurs may be irresistibly cute but as they grow up and reach sexual maturity, they become very aggressive much like Capuchin monkeys.
Lemurs move in groups in the wild, which indicates their strong need for companionship and social interactions. In a household, they look forward to having these needs met with by their owners. Failing to do so makes them irritable.

There are certain types of lemurs that can be petted.

  • Fat-tailed dwarf lemur
  • Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur
  • Ring-tailed Lemur
  • Brown Mouse Lemur

Having them for pets, however, poses more responsibility than house pets such as dogs. These animals are termed exotic therefore require much more than belly scratches and store-bought nibbles.

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Lemurs as Pets
  • For starters, they are very expensive and require a license.
  • You also have to find a breeder who can handle their urges. Females are more aggressive in context. There have been several reports of attacks when something was taken away from them once they reached sexual maturity. They are also extremely protective of their babies.
  • Most importantly, you need to find a local veterinarian who is qualified to treat exotic animals. They have to be properly vaccinated and neutered if necessary. It is recommended to have them neutered within 6 to 8 months to avoid the aggressive tantrums during adolescence.

Another important factor is training. Bringing an exotic animal and locking it in a cage can account for a lot of unrequited aggression and danger to the animal and its owner. Therefore it is vital that the animal is properly trained.

  • Also, lemurs are arboreal creatures. Therefore the house has to be primate-proofed to avoid accidents with ceiling fans or curtain rods.
  • Lemurs cannot be potty-trained so they must be wrapped in diapers at all times in the house.
  • They are extremely sensitive to loud noises so humans must be particularly careful not to disturb their peace and quiet.

Lemurs as Pets

Keeping exotic animals may seem like a good idea but Lemurs live for up to 20 years therefore when deciding to get one, people have to plan their financials for the next couple of decades at least.

Keeping lemurs as pets is only permitted in a select number of locations in the United States of America due to their exotic endangered status as well as the risk of diseases they might carry. You cannot transport, import and export them across borders but if you reside in any of the following states, you can keep them as a pet:

  • Texas
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • North Carolina

Keeping in mind the licensing law and the laws placed by each state on owning various exotic animals, they are not only expensive but also pose threats. Conservation of wildlife is a rising interest among various social groups opposing the interest of those who wish to display their wealth and fortune through the possession of such creatures. Wildlife belongs in the wild, not in a cage.

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Exotic animals require a lot more attention, money, and emotional connections than a normal house pet. It is pivotal to consider their needs before our standing in society. They are living, breathing creatures whose feelings and necessities are just as important as ours. Take into account their physical, mental and emotional needs before you decide to acquire one. They may seem fuzzy and cute to play with but they are certainly not easy to take care of.

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