Comparison of Exotics as Companion Animals
We are not offering any animals of any type for sale to the general public
at this time. We are, however, leaving this page up for informational purposes.
Any references to animals for sale by us are not valid.
We, at R-Zu-2-U, do not openly promote exotic animals to the general public
as companion animals. We recognize, however, that there are individuals
that have the proper experience with domestic animals that might like to
make a move into something more exotic. We have prepared this page to show
the differences in the species with which we are familiar.
We do not pretend to cover every single aspect of owning an exotic and further
surfing of our site and others on the internet may help you make a decision
that will be proper for you and an animal you wish to add to your family. Check
out our Kitten Care Manual for additional information.
Some photos of R-Zu-2-U kids.
SOME DANGERS: Exotic animals, especially carnivores should never
be considered as companion animals unless you not only plan to spend a great
deal of time interacting with them, but actually do it. Some individuals
may regress if you lose interest or lack the time and dedication it takes
to keep them tame. Some individuals will remain tame even after long absences
of their owners, others will not. I have a caracal and serval that were
hand-raised by me and even though they are in the breeding compounds for
nearly a year, they are as tame as the day I put them out there. I have
heard that some carnivores will become less tame even if their owners take
a 3 week vacation. The key phrase here is "you get out of them what you
put into them". Lots of socialization and interaction helps to make them
comfortable and part of the environment in which they are living. If you
plan to be away for some time, it is important that the animals are well
socialized and acquainted with whomever will be their caretaker in your
absence. One other factor to take into consideration is that you must never
make your animal so dependent on you that it will become neurotic and grieve
in your absence. It is difficult sometimes to decide upon the proper amount
of interaction, and the type. Many natural drives can be redirected into
other more acceptable behaviors (to both you and the animal) if you have
a good understanding of the species and your particular animal. That is
what we are here for when you have an animal from R-Zu-2-U. We will help
to guide you through all the little things we have already observed about
the species and what we have found works best for us and others with the
same animal in similar situations. The animals are not our hobby, they are
our way of life. This is not a 40 hour a week job for us. We live and take
care of them 24 - 7. Our animals have a different life than those in zoos
because they know us and see us all day, every day, and into the night.
We are not talking about animals sold by others. We know exactly how we
raise our babies and have hand-picked our breeders for tractable temperaments
as well as physical beauty and mental stability. The following information
is relative to the hand-raised babies we produce from these high quality
sires and dams.
First of all, we give our babies the right start so they will be the most
comfortable in a life with people. They are imprinted on humans - because
they live in our home and that is what they see from the very moment they
open their eyes for the first time. They are handled many times a day to
be fed, stimulated and cuddled. We just cannot help but cuddle the babies!
Occasionally - welllllll - actually quite often, they end up in our beds!
In addition, we have a family nearby that loves to help us raise porcupine
and prairie dog babies when we are overwhelmed. Their daughter, who is now
16 was one of my 4-H kids and they are well-experienced with animals as
well as true animal-lovers. All of our babies are well-socialized with humans
and in some instances have interacted with other animals of the same or
different species that we are hand-raising at the same time. Often, these
babies have been taken to school animal educational programs.
Boundless energy? All young animals have boundless energy that usually
mellows-out to some degree as they mature. Some kittens and the foxes will
be scampering, leaping, running and bounding all over the place - from here
to there - up on this and under that, and through there - everywhere and
anywhere! They play so hard they often have to stop and pant to catch up
on their oxygen needs! It really makes your head spin at times. It is simply
part of being an animal ‘kid’. But, as a rule, most do calm down eventually.
Don’t encourage the behavior, and do NOT discipline for it. Ignore the spurts
of energy or redirect their behavior into some sort of ‘play’. Games of
toss and retrieve are relished by many of these animals, and tiny food treats
can reinforce the positive response that you desire.
What about other pets? We are often asked how a certain species or
individual animal will get along with "my housecats", "my boyfriend's dog",
my mom's canary, etc. Our answer is simply common sense. This depends on
the species, its temperament, its training and how you monitor its behavior.
We have never had an incident or death due to interaction between any of
our exotics or domestic animals. That is because we are always on alert
to curb undesirable behavior or to remove temptation if necessary. We also
do not allow predator/predator or predator/prey species to ever be alone
unattended. This is asking for trouble! Instincts are there even if the
animal appears 100% tame. You cannot expect a fishing cat to stay out of
your goldfish bowl any more than you can expect a chocoholic to keep their
fingers off the brownies! We cannot give you a black and white answer -
so many people have untrained or spoiled domestic pets. These people are
NOT good candidates for an exotic, so if you have a dog that doesn’t even
have basic obedience, do both of us a favor and do not ask for information
about our babies.
Who can buy one of our babies? We no longer sell to the private sector.
People with good experience with domestic animals, who have the interest
and dedication to learn how to handle and live with one of these animals
and enrich both the lives of both themselves AND the animal may be potential
Are they legal where I live? Certain
states and localities have VERY restrictive laws governing private ownership
of CERTAIN animals. BEFORE you contact us you must check this out to see
if the animal you want is EVEN legal. Check with your state wildlife agency
first. Know your laws, and know your rights.
How to they get from there to here?Animals can be shipped by airfreight
by the best possible airline. You will have to pick the shipment up at the
airport. Shipping cost depends on the destination, airline, weight, size
of crate and type of air service. The crates used are for shipping only
and will not be suitable for the animal to live in once it arrives.
Consultation: We do not do private consulting at this time so please
do not write or try to call..
Feeding: We recommend a similar diet for all the cat species we offer.
Purina Mazui brand exotic feline dry feed (can only be ordered through Purina
Feed Dealer stores), Zu-Preem canned feline and/or ground chicken (bones
and all). If you use Mazuri feline, vitamins are usually not necessary.
If not, you should add zoological vitamins to the diet. Science Diet growth
(dry) mixed with ground meat has been sucessfully used by breeders we know
with good results, however we have not used that diet. We do not recommend
a pick-and-choose diet where the animal can choose between several items.
Of course the will pick what they like first and the diet will not be balanced.
Feed the same thing all the time, mixed to avoid picky eaters. We will cover
the basic diets under the other species. We give full diet instructions
with every animal we sell.
Neutering is a MUST to avoid/curb hormonal surges in seasonal breeders
and spray marking in the males of some species. We recommend neutering by
6 months of age in the canids, felids, other carnivores and the fall of
the "year born" in prairie dogs. If you procrastinate and do not get it
done, we don't want to hear from you because your animal has undesirable
behavior. We are tough on these subjects because often, people ignore the
necessary neutering until it is too late. Don't do it!
Litter Training can be accomplished in all cat and dog species, the
other carnivores and even prairie dogs and porcupine. We have not tried
to litter train kinkajou or coatimundi but suspect they may be similar to
monkeys in that respect. Tree-dwelling animals are not easily litter trained,
but taking them ‘out’ to potty might be possible. We have not had experience
doing this since our adults have outdoor habitats. Our coati babies, however,
have always used litter pans with shredded paper quite dependably.
Declawing is a possible choice for cats that are to be kept indoors.
They can and WILL be destructive when sharpening their claws which occurs often.
Declawing, performed at 5 weeks heals most rapidly. I have heard pros and cons
on declawing and have both types of cats. I see absolutely no difference in
the animals that are declawed or not, except the declawed animals are not as
destructive to other animals and your possessions. For a more complete list
of pros and cons of declawing see our kitten care manual.
Immunization and Deworming recommendations will be given for most
species on written request from purchasers. In general, carnivores are usually
given killed vaccines of either dog or cat types depending on the particular
species. Rodent species including prairie dogs and porcupines do not have
vaccines for their species that we are aware of at this time. Deworming
should be performed after an analysis of feces by your veterinarian. We
cannot urge anyone who handles any animal, whether domestic or exotic, to
practice good hygiene - taking preventative measures such as disinfecting
quarters, dishes and equipment on a regular basis as well as bathing of
the animal and washing your own hands before you eat that burger and fries!
All our animals receive the proper vaccinations for their species up to
the age that they are shipped.
Exercise and the proper habitat is a must. If you own an exotic,
you can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER - did I mention "NEVER" - turn it out in the
back yard to potty or even let it off leash to see if it ‘loves you’ and
will stay with you, etc. These animals have finely honed instincts that
may not be evident, but should a butterfly, a mouse or a fluttering leaf
cross their path and you do not have them on a leash, they are HISTORY with
a capitol "H". They simply cannot control themselves. These instincts are
what have helped them survive in the wild. They are not now and never will
be domestic animals. You must cherish and protect them with every ounce
of your being and appreciate the priviledge that one is a part of your life.
Don’t take this attitude personally. Understand their psyche and you will
provide the best for your mutual relatonship.
Most of these animals will not be happy as 'cage' animals. You must provide
a habitat with plenty of room with furnishings for their particular species.
Climbing species like branches or tree trucks and resting or basking shelves.
Ground dwellers like PVC tunnels and caves. Have fun building a habitat
that will help to keep the animal(s) mentally and physically fit. We will
be here to guide you when you plan the habitat.
Click the Titles below to visit our FAQs pages on these species which also
include photographs. Enjoy.
Our caracals have short,
thick coats in light creamy tan, gold, red, rust and silver tipped. Because
we interchange males, we never know what colors we will have. We do not
reserve babies by specific color because many individuals change color as
they get older. Basically the caracal has a solid base color with black
markings on the face and back of the long pointed ears. The ears black on
the back, sometimes changing to charcoal with long straight black ear tufts.
Some tufts get very long. The tail is 3/4 length. Then are 17-24 inches
Caracals are intelligent with an extremely high prey drive which can be
directed into a play drive. Our house caracal plays soccer in the hallway,
can jump 8 feet straight up to catch a toy or get up on a shelf (or anything
else up that high.) They can get along with other household animals if you
bring them up properly and monitor their behavior around the other animals.
Our house caracal lives with 2 parrots that she harrassed when she was a
kitten and now ignores in her adulthood. Caracals are very lively for the
first 7 or 8 months and finally mellow into mature individuals. My caracal
sleeps on my bed, has free roam of the house and is regal and ellegant.
Females mature to about 30 lbs. while males can eventually mature to 40-50+
lb. (at 4-5 years). Their lifespan is about 20 years.
The jungle cat is the closest
wild relative to the domestic cat with the exception of the African wild
cat. Males can top the scale at 30 lb, with females at 15 to 20 lb. They
can be up to 18 inches tall. Their coat is medium length with a dense undercoat.
The coat is a mixture of hairs of several colors - olive, black and tan.
They have orange blush around the face, chest and back of ears. Their color
is quite beautiful. Their legs and tail are striped and they have a few
stripes on the face. Although they are capable of jumping, they do not display
this behavior as much as the caracal and serval. They are a slightly aloof
cat and in our experience, not as affectionate as some of the other species.
Their lifespan is about 20 years.
Our bobcat breeders have thick,
luxurious coats that they do not lose in the summer like some other northern
breeds. They are thick bodied and stocky with shorter legs than the two
lynx species we carry. They have lightly ruffed face and cheeks with tiny
black ear tufts and a short ‘bob-tail’, hence their name. The males are
about 1 inch taller than the female with a slightly heavier body and head.
I estimate them to weigh about 35-45 lbs. and measure about 20-23 inches
tall. Bobcats can be very affectionate to their owners and very playful.
They can be aggressive about their food to other animals but not all of
them are. Our adults never quibble because they have established a dominance
order which is not challenged. Their lifespan is about 20 years.
The Canadian Lynx has silver-gray
ticked fur with fat faces and fur ruffs under the neck and at their cheeks.
They have thick, luxurious coats and are medium-sized between the bobcats
and Siberian lynx. One of the neatest features of this lynx is their huge
'schmoo' feet which are almost comical in appearance. Everyone who sees
our adults comments on their 'adorable feet'. They have black ear tufts
and white eye spots on the back of their ears. I estimate them to weigh
about 50-65 lb. and measure 22-26 inches tall. The males are larger than
the females by about 10-15% with fatter faces and heavier ruffs. Their eyes
are ‘silver’. They can be very affectionate and need to be handled fairly
regularly to maintain the bond. Canadian lynx 'bark' a pleasant little 'chortle-like
bark' when they are excited. Their lifespan is about 20 years.
The Siberian Lynx is the largest
of the lynx family and the largest cat we raise. They are reddish gray,
with a slightly longer, black tipped tail. Their coats are thick and rich
with white markings around their eyes. The male is about 15% larger than
the female. I estimate their height to be 24-31 inches tall with weight
of 50-85 lb. They look much heavier because of the fluffy coat. They are
longer in leg and body than the Canadian Lynx. These lynx take several years
to mature and can live up to 18 years.
Servals are an unusual cat because of
their long legs, long body and neck and small head with huge funnel shaped
ears. They have solid spots like the cheetah and sometimes remind me of
a cheetah. They are very affectionate and will rub their face and cheeks
all over you if you are their person. Servals are not very forgiving at
times if you are the type that is away for weeks at a time. I have known
servals to be left for 3 or 4 weeks that do not ‘forgive’ the owner upon
return and refuse to be handled. It takes some effort to win their trust
back. I find this more prevalent in males than females. Servals are the
same size for males and females with the male having a slightly more masculine
head. Their tail is slightly shorter than a house cat’s tail in ratio to
its body. The serval is about 22 inches tall, 28 inches long and with a
weight of about 35 lbs. The body can be varying shades of pale yellow to
deep orange with black spots on the sides and longitudinal stripes down
the back. They are a very interesting cat. Several of our breeders are extremely
affectionate and playful. They are very passionate about their owners and
do well with domestic cats if raised with them from kittens. Their lifespan
is about 23 years.
The fishing cat is the ‘quarter horse’
of the small cat world. They are about 30 lbs. and about 18 inches tall.
Shorter legs, stocky body, round head with rounded ears, this cat is built
for strength. Normally a quiet cat, it has a distinct cackle similar to
a hyena when it is looking for its mate. They are silver gray with solid
black spots. They like water but do not have to ‘fish’ every day. They do
enjoy fishing for minnows or feeder goldfish. This sport will keep them
happy for hours. Unless neutered they have a pungent odor to their urine.
They are the most expensive cat we breed and very rare in private collections.
They are not aggressive and rather docile, even breeders that are never
We do not raise cougars any longer ourselves, however, we do list the babies
for a dear friend who takes wonderful care of his animals. His breeders
are Western cougars and the male weighs 250 lbs. They can be up to 4 feet
long. The cubs look like little Sumo wrestlers compared to the servals and
other cats we have. They are spotted when born with blue eyes. They progress
rapidly from the little pet nurser to a regular baby bottle with a huge
hole in the nipple. Cougars play rougher than the other cats and are a handful
as they get older. They are NOT suitable as house pets. The size of the
litter pan they'd need should tell you that. Cougars can be taught to walk
on a leash like a dog, however, they are incredibly strong and if they decide
to climb a tree when you are walking them, believe me, you are going up
the tree - whether you want to or not! Cougars eat about 2-5 lbs. of meat
per day as adults. They are very affectionate, but make no mistake, VERY
strong. They are probably much stronger than the strongest person you know!
The darling Fennec fox weighs 2-3 lbs
when fully grown with ears about 6 inches long! They have been litter box
trained by many people who own them. About 1 ounce when born, they are fed,
after weaning, a diet of high quality cat food (dry but softened when young)
and mixed fruits and veggies. They are true omnivores. They will go bezerk
for a grape. No matter how long I have had them, I still think they should
go bezerk for a piece of liver, but if you put a piece of liver, a piece
of bell pepper and a grape in front of them, the grape will disappear first,
then the pepper and then the liver! Weird, huh? I taught one pup to retrieve
like a dog. The only difference was that he would run out after the ‘dumbell’
which was made of soft felt, and jump straight up in the air and pounce
on it like - well - like a fox (imagine that!) - as if it was a mouse. They
he would ferociously ‘kill’ it and then come and offer it to me as a gift,
by laying it across my bare feet. This type of behavior gets me all mushy
inside and it makes me feel real humble. We did this on the kitchen floor
which was waxed and shiney. He soon learned that he could run full blast
and 'slide in for home base'. He taught ME alot about fennec foxes. What
loves they are. They can be nippy, not because they want to be aggressive,
but that is ‘fox’ behavior to other foxes. They are a little mouthy, but
it can be curbed by lightly squeezing their muzzle. I've usually seen this
behavior when they have been in a crate quite a while and I open the door.
They are so glad to see me that they sometimes nip a finger with their needle-like
teeth as then jump into my arms for hugs. So what are a dozen bandages when
you have that kind of loving animal? If you are not a model for hand-lotion,
it is not a big deal. They usually outgrow this phase after 4-5 months of
age. They LOVE to sleep in bed with you and make all sorts of interesting
tunnels under the covers. Eventually they settle down and warm your feet
or curl under your chin or hair (if you have hair, that is!) Their lifespan
is similar to other dogs at about 15 years.
Black Backed Jackal
The black backed jackal is a gorgeous,
smooth-coated member of the wild dog family with a strikingly beautiful
grizzled saddle on their back. They have a sharply pointed muzzle and fine-boned
legs and feet. They weigh about 25-30 lbs. Both sexes are the same size.
They can be kept as tame animals, however, they are ferocious diggers and
can climb like a cat. They must never be put in an area that is not totally
enclosed, top and bottom. They eat a wide variety of foods and can be maintained
strictly on a high quality dog food as well as a meat/vegetable diet. These
jackals have a concentrated urine that has a pungent odor as adults. Owners
have told us their neutered animals do not have this odor. They make lovely
display animals. Their life span is about 15 years.
Coatimundis are not only ‘weird’ looking
like someone stretched their nose a few inches too long, but they are incredibly
intelligent. They weigh about 15-18 lbs at maturity and only stand about
10 inches tall. They are active, busy animals, so if you are looking for
a doormat type of animal, this is not for you. They can easily be trained
to walk on a harness, love to climb and play. They are best maintained if
they have a roomy cage when you cannot monitor their behavior in the house.
Having a coatimundi is like having a perpetual 2 year old. They will be
into everything and anything. It is THEIR JOB to get into trouble. Their
hands are incredibly dexterous and they use them to their advantage to open
cupboards, boxes, certain types of doors and locks. Your house must be kid-proof
or you will be SORRY! If you don't want an animal that can learn and will
keep you busy, this is NOT the animal for you. Coatis do not make good cage
animals and must have the proper habitat to keep them mentally and physically
stimulated and healthy. Coatis are NOT for the inexperienced! Diet is dry
dog food, raw chicken and fruits. We also feed canned primate diet. Lifespan
is about 15 years.
Closely related, taxonomically only, to the coatimundi and raccoon, the
kinkajou is quiet, loving and affectionate, basically they are your loveable
tree-dwelling doormat in the daytime. They weigh 5 to 10 lbs and stand about
8 inches at the shoulder. They are not as intelligent (in our opinion) as
the other two, but make endearing pets. They can be trained to a harness
or collar and might be candidates to ‘outside’ potty training. They are
quiet animals and mostly nocturnal but are perfectly happy for you to wake
them up for attention. They need an enclosure with climbing apparatus and
shelves. Their diet consists of bananas (the staple), sweet fruits, cooked
carrots and sweet potatoes, an occasional hard-boiled egg and dry dog food.
Their lifespan is 20+ years.
The African civet is probably the best
known for the 'civet musk' it can secrete from special glands under its
tail. This civet is used in perfumes. I don't think they are suitable for
a house companion, unless you run the Best Little *&$^# House in Texas because
of the musk they produce. They can weigh up to 50 lbs and stand about 15-18
inches at the shoulders. We have never had one descented so cannot express
an opinion about that. Our breeder animals have no odor at all unless you
open their musk pouch and remove some of it. I love the way it smells, sort
of like 1000 proof Tabu perfume. They can be affectionate and friendly.
One of our breeder males is exceptionally affectionate and rubs his neck
all over my hair. I don’t smell anything, but when I've gone shopping shortly
after one of his massages, I have had some PRETTTTTY interesting offers
while in the checkout line. Just kidding! They eat fruits, canned primate
diet and raw chicken. I just love these animals. They weigh 30-50 lbs when
mature with a distinct silver body, with solid or rousetted black spots,
a black mask and a mane from the head to the tail that they erect when excited.
I do not know of anyone in the US who is breeding these but us. They are
excellent mousers. Lifespan is 20+ years.
Genets are the sports model of the ‘ferret’
world. They weigh 3-5 lbs. and stand about 7 inches at the shoulders. Their
bodies are long and lean like a ferret, but more closely related to the
civet and cats. The species we currently raise have lovely coats of silver
background with black spots. Their very long, fluffy tail is silver and
ringed with black stripes. They are cat-like in the face with retractable
claws and shorter limbs suitable for tree dwelling animals. They love to
lay on shelves with their beautiful tails gracefully hanging down. They
are excellent mousers and avid about catching any insect around. There are
several species and sub-species. At the moment we are breeding the small
spotted with the color described above. Some species eat fruit, cat food
(dry) and raw chicken. Some will only eat raw chicken and mice. Some will
also eat eggs. We give complete diet directions. The easily litter train!
Lifespan is about 15 years.
When you first get your baby prairie dog
it will weigh 4-8 ounces. Adult prairie dog adults weigh about 2-3 lbs and when
standing on all fours, reach a height of about 5 inches. Prairie dogs make wonderful,
endearing and inexpensive companion animals. They are easy to feed, although
their diet must be controlled to be sure they are getting the proper nutrition
and are not overweight. Serious health problems can result. They need to be
protected from fungal infections of the respiratory tract. Proper bedding and
nutrition are very important to prevent these problems. Prairie dogs MUST be
neutered in the fall of the year they are born. If they are not, they can become
protective of their cage and personal items. Lifespan is 8-12 years. Lots of
useful and interesting prairie dog information can be accessed off of our FAQs
pages. Go to Animal FAQs and scroll down to prairie
dogs for many pages on prairie dog information.
South African Crested Porcupines are the
largest of all porcupines and stand about 18-20 inches at the shoulder and weigh
up to 70 lbs. They shed a quill or two daily, like we shed hair, which are highly
prized by crafters world-wide. There is a picture of the quills at
this link. Sometimes I give thick ones to female friends who like to wear
their hair in a twist. These porcupines not only can be affectionate, they are
wonderful in educational programs. They can be trained to walk on a leash or
follow a bell. They are easy to feed and are clean about their toilet habits,
using one place to go most of the time. A litter pan in that area works wonders.
They are affectionate, believe it or NOT, and to have a 60 lb. porcupine climb
in your lap for hugs is a real definition of lap-dancing! Their lifespan is
We hope this will answer many of your
questions and help you make a proper decision about which type of exotic,
if any, would fit into your life. It is our goal to match the right species
and individual animal to the proper person who already knows what to expect
ahead of time.
Ownership of an exotic animal is a huge responsibility. You must provide
for the safety of the animal, yourself and the public at large. You must
provide the proper nutrition, environment and stimulation so that both of
your lives will be blessed and enriched.
R-Zu-2-U Animal "Terms"
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