Setting Your Exotic Animal Goals


If you are a newcomer to this industry, you are probably trying to decide into which type of animal to invest your time and money. There are several things to consider before making the final decision.

  • What is the current availability of the animals you have selected?
  • Can they still be imported?
  • What is their current CITES and/or Endangered status?
  • How often do they reproduce and at what rate?
  • Do they have highly specific diets and/or temperature and housing requirements?
  • What is your goal in breeding? Is it for resale to the breeder or pet market?
  • Are the animals suitable for the pet trade?
  • Is it legal in most or all of the United States?
  • Is it an animal that is considered non-dangerous?
  • If your goal is resale to other breeders, how large do you think this group will be?
  • Is the animal you have chosen suitable to breeders with both large and small facilities?
  • What did you have to do to set up for this animal?
  • What is the reproductive rate of the species? How often can it have offspring in a year and how many is a normal 'litter'. Is the expense in maintaining this animal (food, veterinarian care, housing) such that you can make a reasonable profit at the expected selling price? What if the price drops. At what price can you sell the offspring without going in the red?
  • If you decide to choose an animal that has a high reproductive rate, you may find that the market is soon saturated and prices will stablize at a very low figure, probably much lower than you paid for the animals.
  • If the animal produces few young during the year, even if it is attractive as a pet, it may not be attractive to breeders because the return on their investment is much slower. It may, on the otherhand, attract breeders because the supply will be less with better return on the initial investment. These animals will have to be housed and fed longer so these costs must enter into the final anaylsis when making a decision about breeding stock.
  • If you have chosen an animal that is on USF&W Endangered/Threatened list, special permits will be required. Endangered/Threatened animals can not be sold across state lines without a special license and/or permits from USDI. I have personally be told by USDI headquarters that they will not issue permits to individuals for breeding ,exhibiting or pets. Animals that are on the CITES list require special paperwork from the country of origin, and CITES I animals require an additional import permit from USDI.

  • Countries that subscribe to CITES have maximum quotas for export and the animals cannot come in to the US in droves, which only serves to drive the prices down.

    How many breeders currently have this type of animal in their program and in what numbers? Are there a few large breeders who can control the market prices at will? If they panic or decide to 'get out' of breeding this species and dump their stock, will it hurt you if you have just a small breeding group? What is their reputation and previous track record in this industry?

    Is the food for these animals readily available and not cost prohibitive? If you are breeding an animal that eats, for example, many insects, do you have a reliable source at a price that will not price you out of the market when you figure your overhead at the time of setting a selling price?

    Do lots of research by READING and even surfing on the internet. Visit with people who have the animals but remember: It is not their life's ambition - or their JOB to teach you everything they know just because you decide to call them. Your approach will have a large effect on the attitude you will receive on the other end. Be respectful of other people's time and grateful if you get any information from them at all. And don't forget to say "Thanks".


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