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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Owning exotic pets has become a trend in the capital. In addition to dogs and cats, many choose macaws, colorful fish, hamsters and spiders as their companions. TNIE went around town to learn more about humans and their little friends
When his dear Febe didn’t move for more than a day, 17-year-old Sebin Thomas became concerned. Febe is Sebin’s pet tarantula – a hairy spider. The five-inch-tall furry friend only shed his outer layer, Google assured. Owning a spider pet will come as no surprise to those who know Hagrid, a popular character from the Harry Potter series. Like Hagrid, many in town are attached to her iguanas, ball pythons, dormouse, smiling lizards, sugar gliders and monster fish.
Stranger the better
As the world shut down during the pandemic, there was high demand for pets in the city. From toy dog breeds of Chinese origin like the Shih Tzu to macaws and goldfish, they have become people’s favorite companions for those busy days. Some even chose daring companions like snakes, spiders, and even beetles.
There’s a big market for these reptiles and amphibians among the youth, says Kamal VS, a techie-turned-animal collector. “Although reptiles are cold-blooded, with good care and affection they can make lovable pets.” Kamal says his pet iguana is from the lizard family and is easy to care for. “Whether snake or dog, you should take care of them consistently and pay attention to their diet. You should do your research before buying exotic pets, as it’s difficult to tell if they’re sick,” he says.
Some of the New Age pet species include hedgehogs, fire-bellied newts of the salamander family, leopard gecko (smiling lizard), sugar gliders, dormouse, and monster fish like arapaima, colorful corn snakes, and milk snakes. The new winged friends in town are macaws, sun conures, rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos, cockatiels, etc.
Hedgehog, Syrian hamster, sugar glider and micro squirrel are some of the cute pets trending. “Do you know that mice are good companions? Just like in the movie Ratatouille, they can become your best friends. Fancy mice, dumbo rats, gerbils and even ‘Peruchazhi’ can make good pets if we take good care of them,” says Kamal, who runs Wiggly Tales pet shop.
“People choose non-venomous snakes like ball pythons as pets.”
Species like the iguana rely on plants and foliage, says Vaishak CM, one of the owners of Pets Club, which boasts several exotic pets in the city. “Iguana needs a good dose of UV rays. You can feed them hibiscus flowers, moringa leaves and vegetables. Having spiders and other creatures as pets will also help eliminate our fear. However, the cost of these pets can skyrocket,” says Vaishak.
From dry baths to pet parks
Medicinal baths for skin rashes, nail clipping, oil massages, etc. are the fashionable care procedures. The newly opened Petoria Wellness Center in Kowdiar offers accommodation and care for all pets. As the monsoon approaches, the contagious disease for dogs will be parvovirus, says Alan Davis Babu, one of the center’s managing partners.
“Pets also need to be vaccinated every year to prevent viral infections. We administer a multi-component vaccine for dogs and cats,” says Alan. The facility also offers pet care. Squirrels and rabbits can take a dry bath if they have skin problems. This is where foam is applied and dried with pet towels. Medicated baths and shampoos are for dogs and cats. Grooming doesn’t end with a good haircut – teddy bear and puppy haircuts are trending on the list. How about a trip afterwards? In addition to a wide range of products and services, Bark’oke has a pet park in Pattom. “It’s designed to create an activity area for pet parents and pets to relax and have fun,” says one employee.
DESSERTS AND PUPCAKES
Shelter baker Varsha Prabhakaran has a special list of cakes and desserts for the “paw” friends. Through her company, The Barkery.Inc, Varsha offers homemade treats and cakes for dogs. Birthday cakes for dogs and cats are in high demand, says Varsha, who is also a dog lover. “Cakes come in half a kilo and a kilo. Chicken, fish, cream cheese, peanut butter, banana, etc. are the main ingredients. Peanut butter is a mixture of ground peanuts and honey. The diet for dogs and cats must be free of masala, sugar and salt. I use homemade yogurt for the frosting,” says Varsha. She also offers cookie-like treats for dogs that have a three-month shelf life. Dognuts and pupcakes are also popular.