My son and his baseball teammates were recently accompanied in the outfield by frogs—seemingly hundreds of tiny frogs! What more could a boy ask for? Not surprisingly, several boys asked mom or dad if they could bring home a frog or two as pets.
One dad said yes (to his wife’s chagrin), and his son left with four frogs. Why not? Frogs make great pets!
Correction: they make great pets if the frogs are prepared for captivity and if you are prepared to provide the proper food and habitat.
What this frog-laden family didn’t know is that it’s illegal to keep wildlife as pets in the state of Illinois: “It is unlawful to take, possess, sell or offer for sale, any such wild birds . . . or such wild mammals . . . contrary to the provisions of the Illinois Wildlife Code.”
For the majority of us who may not consult our state’s wildlife code with much frequency, it’s wise to think twice before bringing wildlife into your home.
Legality aside, wild animals cannot be domesticated by being captive-born or hand-raised. According to the Humane Society, dogs and cats have been domesticated by selective breeding for desired traits over thousands of years. A wild animal’s instinctive nature makes it unsuitable as a pet.
If you’re not easily swayed, consider the following:
- A cute, cuddly young animal may become very aggressive and try to escape as it matures.
- Many wild animals are most active at night, disturbing your sleep and proving “boring” pets during the day.
- Feeding wild animals is not as simple as buying a bag of squirrel chow: their dietary needs are different from domestic pets and specific to their habitats. A wild pet may suffer and die from malnutrition.
- Diseases carried by healthy wild animals can make people sick. Diseases of sick wild animals may be unfamiliar to veterinarians, or vets may choose not to treat a wild pet because of legal implications.
- A wild animal’s life span might be longer than you’ve bargained for, possibly more than 40 years.
As for our froggy friends—or my son’s friend with frogs—I’m not exactly certain of the frogs’ species. Do these frogs require live insects as part of a healthy diet? Do they fare best at a particular temperature or humidity level? Will they need to hibernate for the winter? And how big will they grow to be?
I’m sad to say that one of the four frogs has already met an untimely death, dropped above its tank and paralyzed by the fall. Three remain, but my son’s mom hopes they don’t last long. Does an animal deserve such a fate?
You can help! Share this information with friends. And before you bring home a wild pet, ask yourself:
- Is what I’m doing legal?
- Am I willing to provide the animal an appropriate diet and habitat?
- Do I realize I can’t change an animal’s instinctive behavior?
- Am I willing to risk my health?
- Am I willing to risk the animal’s life?
If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, please let wild animals live in the wild. Visit a pet store you trust to find a pet (frog!) that’s perfect for you.